PHILADELPHIA—Andre Burakovsky responded to his benching exactly how Coach Barry Trotz hoped he would—by producing his best performance in weeks.
The 21-year-old winger scored his first goal in 27 games and registered a secondary assist on Lars Eller’s tally in Wednesday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Flyers.
“Once I saw the puck go in,” Burakovsky said, “I was kind of shocked.”
Burakovsky had been a healthy scratch the previous three games. During that time out of the lineup, he said he worked on getting his shots off faster and getting better at detecting soft spots in the D-zone coverage.
That work, it seems, paid off at Wells Fargo Center, where Burakovsky finished with a team-high five shots on goal. The total marked the most he’s logged in a single game since he took seven at Arizona last April 2.
“Yeah, it was good to get back in and finally get a goal again,” he said. “It’s been a while. It’s about time and I thought I played a very good game today. I had a lot of opportunities to get [the puck] in. I was really confident with the puck and it was fun to get back in [the lineup].”
Eller said he hopes it’s the start of something for the young winger.
“It’s good,” said Eller, who scored his first goal since Nov. 5, a span of 19 games. “It’s a good confidence booster for him. And it’s good for the team. When Andre is good, we’re a better team. He has a big capacity to score a lot of goals.”
Trotz has acknowledged in recent days that he’s still searching for the right mix for the third line. He liked what he saw Wednesday night from the combination of Burakovsky, Eller and Jakub Vrana but wouldn’t commit to it going forward. The trio accounted for both goals, four points and eight shots on net.
“Big picture, Lars and Burakovsky were very good,” Tritz said. “Same with Vrana. That line got us two goals. I thought that was great for both of them. You can see Lars’ game coming [and] with Burakovsky we’re hoping it would come. That line was good for us tonight.”
Trotz added: “All three of them have been pretty good. [But] we have Brett Connolly who has been on that line. He was pretty good and I took him out because we were trying to find something that works. We’ll see what we do here the next couple of days.”
Burakovsky said he liked the line’s chemistry.
“I think our whole line was playing really solid today,” he said. “I thought Vrana was skating and winning battles. Lars, as well. I think Lars is one of the hardest guys on the puck, he protects the puck really good and he gets the puck back a lot for me and Vrana. I think it’s a good line combination and we had a really strong game.”
As much as Burakovsky liked the way his line played, he liked seeing his wrist shot beat Steve Mason’s blocker even more.
“It was just one game [but] I’m just going to keep doing the same job I did tonight,” Burakovsky said. “I think I had a really good game and it was a lot of fun to finally get one.”
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