There’s something about the playoffs that brings the best out of Boston Bruins forward David Krejci.
Krejci, in his sixth year in the NHL with the Bruins, broke the Maple Leafs’ hearts Wednesday night with a hat trick, including the overtime winner past James Reimer as visiting Boston beat Toronto 4-3.
The three goals gave the Czech native five goals and 10 points through four games as the Bruins opened a 3-1 series lead heading back to Boston for Game 5 on Friday night.
“I’m just trying to do my best,” said the soft-spoken Krejci. “I know I had a run a couple years ago, but I know I had a bad run, so I’m just trying to play my best, go out there and do my hardest and not worry about the result.”
Two seasons ago, Krejci put up 12 goals and 23 points in 25 games as the Bruins went all the way, beating the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup. Of those 12 goals, four won games.
But in Boston’s brief playoffs last season when the Washington Capitals eliminated the Bruins in the first round in seven games, Krejci managed only three points.
If the early returns are any indication, his subpar performance from last season looks to be an aberration.
“If he’s got one weakness, he’s really hard on himself at times when things aren’t going well,” said Boston coach Claude Julien.
Ducks 3, Red Wings 2 (OT): Nick Bonino scored 1:54 into overtime, and Anaheim moved to the brink of the second round with a victory over visiting Detroit.
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy took the puck behind the Detroit net and fed it in front. Bonino scored for the Ducks, who took a 3-2 series lead.
Game 6 is Friday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, where the Ducks will attempt to close out just their second playoff series victory since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007.
Rangers 4, Capitals 3: Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan scored third-period goals for New York and the Rangers drew even 2-2 in the best-of-seven series after squandering a two-goal lead against visiting Washington.
Carl Hagelin, who had a goal and two assists for New York.
Game 5 will be in Washington on Friday.
Kings 3, Blues 2 (OT): Slava Voynov scored on an odd-man rush eight minutes into overtime and visiting Los Angeles beat St. Louis for the third straight time.
The win put the defending Stanley Cup champions on the verge of surviving the first round, leading 3-2 heading to Game 6 in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Alex Pietrangelo scored on a wrist shot from the point with 44.1 seconds remaining in regulation and goalie Brian Elliott off for an extra attacker. That forced overtime for the second time in the series.