Lucic explains himself

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:23 PM ET

MONTREAL -- Speaking publicly for the first time since being slapped with a one-game suspension by the NHL, a humbled Milan Lucic insisted today that his actions against Montreal's Maxim Lapierre Saturday were not premeditated.

Lucic will sit out Game 3 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal tonight at the Bell Centre after his blow to the head of Lapierre in the third period of Boston's 5-1 victory over the Canadiens Saturday caused the long arm of the NHL law to lay down the punishment.

"It was not intentional," Lucic told a large gaggle of reporters after the Bruins morning skate at the Bell Centre.

"Me and (Habs defenceman Mathieu) Schneider were going at it. He stuck me. I stuck him. Suddenly I saw Lapierre coming in and just reacted."

Both Lucic and Bruins coach Claude Julien maintain Lucic's glove made the majority of contact with Lapierre, not his stick.

"I know my right glove got him in the face," said Lucic, who blamed himself for the incident.

"I'm a little disappointed in myself. Our team has done a good job in being disciplined. The biggest thing is, I'll learn from this.

"Obviously it was a decision made by (league disciplinarian) Colin Campbell. I've got to respect his decision."

Lucic will be replaced in the lineup by youngster Byron Bitz.

The Bruins hold a 2-0 lead in the series and can take a stranglehold over the Canadiens with a victory tonight.

"(The absence of) one player can't change the whole team," Lapierre said when asked what effect the Lucic suspension will have on the Bruins. "I have no more comment about (the suspension)."

As for Game 3, Lapierre predicted the raucous Habs fans will see a different Montreal team tonight than the one that has struggled to date in the series.

"We are going to be the ones who dictate (the play)," he said. "We are not going to play follow the leader."


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