Before the puck dropped in Raleigh for Game 3 Tuesday night, the Bruins got some good news.
Injured forward Noel Acciari was cleared for game action. But with how well the team had been rolling, especially the fourth line, head coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t about to try and fix something that wasn’t broken, leaving Acciari out of the lineup as a “coaches decision.”
Once the puck did drop on Game 3, Cassidy’s fourth line rewarded him for his decision.
Chris Wagner opened the scoring for the Bruins in the second period, a period that followed a dominating start from the home team.
“That line scored a goal by playing the right way, pursuing pucks. Our high forward, if your first two guys get beat, their D tend to want to get going,” said Cassidy. “Our high forward, Kurlay is in a great spot to keep a puck alive and then you make some plays, right? They’re fourth liners, you don’t expect them to make a tic-tac-toe play, but they did. Good for them.”
Even if you were to take the goal out of the equation, the line was the Bruins best in Game 3. Of the Bruins four lines, no line logged more five-on-five minutes than the fourth line did.
In 8:24 of five-on-five ice time, the trio of Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Wagner had a Corsi For Percentage of 61.9%, an edge in shots 8-3 and an edge in scoring chances for 8-3.
“Yeah, well you need all four lines to contribute to win playoff games and playoff series. What we have right now is great and we have the confidence to throw anybody out at any situation of the game and that’s huge for a team and probably makes a coaches life a lot easier,” said defenseman Torey Krug. “But, we have all the confidence in the world in every single line and our depth guys are bringing it now.”
After failing to score in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Wagner now has two goals in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals.
“I thought he was terrific," Cassidy said of Wagner. "That line scored a goal by playing the right way."
The news however wasn’t all too great for Wagner who left the game in the third period after blocking a shot Justin Faulk shot to the wrist area.
According to several members of the Bruins media, Wagner’s right arm was in a sling following the win.
“Right now, I don’t have an update. He’s not good right now when he came off, obviously in a lot of pain," Cassidy said.
“He’s been huge, you saw the block he made today and the goal he had. I think he was one of our best players. He’s a guy that we really lean on, our line leans on.,” Kuraly said. “I hope he’s okay. He’s a tough kid. I’m sure he will be eventually. I don’t know what the medical report is.”