Bruins' top trio looking to regain scoring touch in Game 5

Bruins forward David Krejci (left) and Nathan Horton celebratea goal against the Blackhawks during...

Bruins forward David Krejci (left) and Nathan Horton celebratea goal against the Blackhawks during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final at the United Center in Chicago, June 12, 2013. (JOHN GRESS/Reuters)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 PM ET

BOSTON - Together, they are the top producing forward line in the playoffs and hold down at least a share of spots one, two and three in the scoring race.

But together in the last three games of the Stanley Cup final, Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Milan Lucic have produced just three points collectively.

If the Chicago Blackhawks are able to maintain that ability to shut them down beginning with Game 5 here Saturday night, there may not even be three games remaining in the Bruins season.

"We have way more to offer than the last two games," centre David Krejci said Friday shortly after the team arrived at its hotel on the shore of Lake Michigan. "We have to pick it up, especially our line. We were just so-so.

"We have to be big. We're ready for a bounce back."

Such is the nature of this series -- so tight, so close, so intriguing as we approach the clinching stage -- that every day, it seems, there's a new scab to pick at. The goaltenders have had their turn, as have Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in the Hawks camp.

And now the Krejci line.

It's been an ebb and flow post-season for Krejci, who leads all scorers with 24 points. He was dynamite against the Leafs in Round 1, solid vs. the Rangers and Penguins in those two rapid-fire series and ordinary, especially in the most recent games, of the final.

The pair scored one goal in Wednesday's 6-5 shootout, but nothing else since Game 1. Heading into Game 5 at the United Center, Horton is second in playoff scoring with 19 points, two better than Milan Lucic, who is tied with the Hawks' Patrick Kane for third.

The Bruins top forwards don't have the flash of their high-profile latest opponents -- first the Pittsburgh Penguins and now the Hawks -- but as we saw earlier and as the scoring race confirms, they are no slouches either.

"I certainly wouldn't be the guy to complain about their performance so far," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "They've been pretty good. But at one point, you get to the finals and everybody wants to give a little bit more.

"They're a line that's very proud of what they've accomplished in these playoffs so far and would like to finish on a good note."

A couple of things could be at play here in making those notes just a little off-key the past few games.

Horton, who suffered an upper-body injury earlier in the series, could be playing hurt. And Krejci's scoring is out of character to his regular season efforts (24 points in 20 games now vs. 33 in 47.) Remember, as well, that more than half of the two-four he's put up in the playoffs -- five goals and eight assists -- came in the opening-round, seven-game victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Of course, it could also just be as simple as the Hawks are playing the trio tighter and having solid success doing so.

"They've been playing us tight from Game 1," Lucic said. "I think we have to definitely be better as a line and we've got to find a way to break through whatever kind of adjustments they have."

As if there ever was any doubt, there's no mystery what's at stake now. Each team has stolen a win on the other's ice. Each has battled through three overtime games.

And now with the series down to an advantage-no-one situation, something has to give in the two-out-of-three that awaits.

Just as Toews and Kane are saying similar things, Lucic talked Friday about the desire to be that guy over a 48-hour stretch that could see the Cup awarded as soon as Monday night in Boston.

"As the series goes along, every game gets bigger and bigger," Lucic said, sounding anything but a guy spewing cliches. "Right now it's down to a best-of-three with a maximum of three games left in this year's hockey season. When you look at it like that, you've got to leave everything on the line."

Starting with your top line.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/longleysunsport


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