BOSTON -- Every time Milan Lucic starts to feel the heat from the media and fans, he seems to respond.
That once again was the case Monday as Lucic cut a 2-0 Maple Leafs lead with his first goal in 15 games at 9:49 of the second period, helping to jump-start his team to a 3-2 shootout win.
After the game, Lucic was happy to have rid himself of the latest monkey that set up shop on his back.
“Definitely relief. You start thinking positively again and like they say, the monkey is off your back,” Lucic said. “It’s definitely on your mind, and after the goal I had a lot more positive thinking, so it was good to get it.”
Coach Claude Julien had put Lucic on a different line and the rugged winger admitted after the game that he realized it was partly an effort to get him going. Lucic admitted he had gotten close to a boiling point.
“It was starting to get really frustrating, going as long as I did without a goal,” Lucic said. “You try so many different things, you keep pushing and pushing and when things start not working, you start second-guessing yourself.
“It was a great play by [Jordan Caron] to beat the pinch there and [Rich Peverley] gave me the pass and I just wanted to take it to the net and was able to finish it off. My game is pretty simple so it doesn’t really matter who I play with, I’m expected to play a certain way and I play the same way no matter who I play with.”
With a new three-year contract extension that will pay him $6 million per year starting next season, Lucic has high expectations for himself. But he realizes he hasn’t been meeting them.
“You always have expectations on yourself and you want to get better every year as you get older and as you start reaching your prime you want to continue getting better,” Lucic said. “It’s no secret, but it does add a little bit of pressure on you.
“But you can’t really think about it. If you think about it too much, then that’s when things aren’t going right for you. So like I said, you try not to think about it and just go out there and play your game.”
Lucic realizes he has been the target of media and fan criticism recently and has done his best to block it out.
“You try not to listen to it, that’s the main thing,” Lucic said. “And you just want to do whatever you can to get yourself out of it. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction, where I can get my game going.”
Lucic's game got going on Monday because his feet got going and he was using his size to plow down the wing. Julien noticed that and said that’s when Lucic is at his best.
“Always has been. With Milan, it’s all about his feet,” Julien said. “When his feet are moving and when he uses his speed, not just on the goal, but a couple other times there, he really took the puck to the outside and tried to cut back in. Either he’s going to get those chances or create some power plays for us, by getting them to drag him down. But he’s big, he’s strong, and when he uses his speed he’s certainly that much more of a player.”
Lucic plans to keep moving his game in that direction.
“I think you look at that goal there, I think a big thing was I was moving my feet on the play and I was able to create a lot of speed, and when I move my feet I give myself a lot more opportunities,” he said.
That can only mean good things for a Bruins offense that has been stagnant for too long.