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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lucic (1 goal, 1 assist) Returns to Boston and Helps the Kings Bludgeon the Bruins, 9-2

If you are Milan Lucic, in your wildest dreams I'm pretty sure that you couldn't come up with a more enjoyable experience that what happened for him tonight in his first game back at TD Garden since getting traded to Los Angeles over the summer. He had a goal, assist & was +2 as the Kings (32-17-3) neutered the Bruins (28-19-6) 9-2 at TD Garden.

It was the most goals given up by the B's in nearly eight years (10 at Washington on March 3, 2008) and the most shots on goal allowed by them (57) in almost 41 years (57 on March 18, 1965 vs. Detroit). The burly former Bruins left wing received a huge ovation during warmups, after a video tribute for him was shown on the Jumbotron in the first period and even after the beating as he took a victory lap to thank the few fans that remained (all to see him and boo the Bruins in the process).

For Boston, they have to hope that their consistent struggles at home (12-14-3) this season still don't carry over to the road as they get ready to head out on a season-long six-game road trip (16-5-3). The good news for them is that mighty LA is in the Western Conference so as ugly as this blowout loss was, it really doesn't mean all that much in the grand scheme of things. It was a bizarre game as the Bruins actually scored first on Brad Marchand's team-leading 25th goal of the season at 5:03 (a power play goal from Matt Beleskey and Zdeno Chara that was Marchand's 10th goal in his last 11) of the first period but then the Garden roof caved in. LA scored two goals late in the first period by Jeff Carter (on a power play that was deflected in by Kevan Miller) and a sick top-shelf backhander from Marian Gaborik.

After Marchand's goal, Boston hit three posts so despite being down 2-1 after the first, things didn't seem so bad. Miller's season-long horrorshow here continued as he literally handed another tally right to the Kings-his turnover went right to Andy Andreoff (great name!) who beat Tuukka Rask (27 saves) at 2:42 of the second period. How about Colin Miller plays home games and Kevan Miller plays road games, I wish that I was kidding but Kevan is somehow immune to being a healthy scratch. Drew Doughty added a power play goal (the Kings were 3 for 3 on them this evening), assisted by Lucic and Dwight King tapped in a rebound 33 seconds later for a 5-1 lead. Not that it was all his fault but Rask had to be pulled at that point for his own sanity and Jonas Gustavsson (21 saves) promptly gave up a goal to Trevor Lewis with 1:04 left in the second. At least Gustavsson was back in action after he left his last appearance (Jan. 26 vs. Anaheim) in an ambulance with worries about his heart condition.

The third period was the equivalent of garbage time in a preseason NHL game, it was that tedious. Tyler Randell had fought Kyle Clifford in the first and Beleskey dropped the gloves with Andreoff in the second but there would be no return bout for Lucic on this night. UMass product Jonathan Quick (35 saves) made his usual assortment of incredible saves and luckily seemed to avoid injury in the last seconds when Jimmy Hayes barreled into his left leg/knee. Lucic got a tap-in goal to cap off LA's absurd seven-goal run before Randell scored (his 5th goal of the season) in his first game in a month (he was a scratched for the past 12 contests). Luke Schenn potted the third power play goal for the Kings and Dustin Brown closed it out by padding his stats with a goal.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this trip could very well be a defining moment for the B's when it comes to whether they make the playoffs or not this spring. It isn't as daunting as you'd think though (at least on paper) since three of the six teams that they'll meet (Winnipeg, Minnesota and Columbus) currently are out of the playoff picture in their respective conferences. Of course, this is all assuming that the Bruins continue to defy reason as one of the best road teams in the league.

The fun starts on Thursday (8, NESN) in Winnipeg (24-26-3) where the Jets are playing out the string in a disappointing campaign (what up Jeb Bush?). Boston is at Minnesota (23-20-10) on Saturday for a rare afternoon tilt (2, NESN) then they complete a back-to-back in Detroit (27-18-8) on Valentine's Day (3:30, NBC). Can you think of more romantic spot than the Motor City? The Bruins are in Columbus (21-28-6) a week from tonight (7, NESN) then at Nashville (25-21-8) on Thursday (8, NESN) and things end in Dallas (34-15-5) against Tyler Seguin and the high-flying Stars a week from Saturday (8, NESN).

You won't see the Bruins at the Garden for almost two entire weeks-their next game in town is Monday, February 22 vs. Columbus-which is probably a good thing. It's easy to forget given the way that things played out in tonight's nightmare but Boston had quietly been playing pretty well lately (7-2-1 coming into this debacle). It shouldn't take long to get a feel for the trip as they play three games in four days to kick it all off. Get some rest everybody!

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