BOSTON (CBS) — He took the shot.
Bruins forward Milan Lucic took the shot, and Tampa Bay goaltender Anders Lindback missed it.
The Bruins grabbed a 2-1 lead late in the second period Thursday en route to a 3-1 victory against the Lightning in the season-opener for both clubs and Lucic is suddenly off to the same start he was last season.
Of course, we all know what happened after Lucic scored against the New York Rangers in the season-opener last January. He only scored six more goals over the next 47 games before earning himself a reprieve with seven more goals during the 22-game run through to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Unlike last season, however, Lucic plans to maintain the confidence that escaped him during the 2013 regular season. That he started the rush in the second period against the Lightning, then got in position to receive a pass at the left hash mark and fired off the shot without hesitation was a sure sign that Lucic believes in himself.
“Definitely,” said Lucic when asked if that was the type of shot he need to take more last season. “I mean, I think when you’re in a slump you start thinking too much and you start [second] guessing yourself. It was one of those things that hopefully give you confidence right off the bat and you build off of it.”
It’s not an Earth-shattering statement to say that the Bruins need Lucic to build off this goal and be close to a 30-goal scorer for the entire campaign. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli did the best he could to make sure Nathan Horton’s departure wouldn’t leave Lucic and David Krejci without a high-caliber sniper on their left side. Iginla showed he could be every bit the physical and offensive presence Horton was with two solid shots on net and a fight against Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas. Almost from the outset, Iginla and Lucic were a one-two punch on the forecheck the way the Bruins drew it up over the summer.
With Iginla filling the Horton hole well, and Krejci always playing like he’s the best player in the world, it’s up to Lucic to play up to his standards in order for the Bruins’ best offensive line to produce like one of the best lines in hockey.
It was only one game, but opening night made it look like Lucic is ready to shoot his way to the top of the list of power forwards in the NHL.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.