Krejci’s Hat Trick Leads Bruins Past Panthers

David Krejci Bruins
(Michael Tureski/Icon SMI)

It’s usually the other way around. You know, with David Krejci feeding passes to either Milan Lucic or Jarome Iginla, his power forward linemates who have a knack for shooting and scoring.

Not this time.

This time, Krejci was the one putting the puck in the net–three times in fact, in the Bruins 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. The hat trick was Krejci’s fifth of his career, two of which came in the postseason, and the first of any Bruin this season.

Krejci opened the scoring in the first period after intercepting a misconstrued Tom Gilbert pass to the slot, deking Tim Thomas once before sniping the puck top corner. His second goal was similar; high in the slot, ripping a shot past the sprawling Panthers goalie.

“Dave has always been a pass-first kind of guy, but he’s got a good shot,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the game. “I think his approach this year has been a little bit more about shooting, and even being on the point on the power play, I’ve seen him where times he would never shoot but this year he’s taking the shots when that shooting lane is there.

“It’s probably more confidence in his shot, and he does have a good shot and it’s nice to see him use it.

It was a bizarre turn of events in the waining minutes of the game when Lucic was holding onto the puck, perhaps for a second or two too long, in order for Krejci to get to open to receive a pass. He and Iginla were thinking of returning one of many favors to Krejci, the center who has set them up for so many goals season. Krejci scored his third and final goal of the night on an empty net shot with 14 seconds left in the game.

“We obviously recognized the situation and he had two at the time with an empty net,” said Lucic. “We were just able to turn the puck over high up there and I looked for him and he was open and was able to hit the empty net there from the neutral zone.”

Krejci’s hat trick have brought his season total to 16, good enough for sixth on the team, even though he leads all Bruins with 55 points. He has been on a bit of a streak as well, scoring six goals and seven assists in his last 10 games, with five points (three goals and two assists) in last two.

The offensive production of the Bruins’ top line, anchored by Krejci, has set the pace for the rest of the roster going forward into the final part of the season. With their win on Tuesday, the Bruins moved within three points of the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference. They’ll look for revenge on Thursday when they face the Washington Capitals–the same team they lost to on Saturday afternoon.