TORONTO - There's something about the playoffs that gets the best out of Boston Bruins forward David Krejci.
Krejci, in his sixth year in the NHL with the Bruins, broke the Toronto Maple Leafs hearts on Wednesday night with a hat trick, including the overtime winner as Boston beat Toronto 4-3.
The three goals give the Czech native five goals and 10 points through the four games with the Leafs as the Bruins opened a 3-1 series lead heading back to Boston for Game 5 on Friday.
"I'm just trying to do my best," said the soft-spoken Krejci, who's let his play on the ice do the talking for him. "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 and beat the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup. Of those 12 goals, four were game-winners.
But in Boston's brief playoff run last season where the Washington Capitals eliminated them in the first round in seven games, Krejci only managed to put up three points.
If the early returns are any indication, it looks like his subpar performance from last season looks to be a one-time 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. "But when you see him playing like that I'm not sure you want to call it a weakness. When he does find his game he's a pretty dominant player."
During the regular season, Krejci put up 10 goals in 47 games. Through four playoff games, he's already halfway to his regular season total.
It's been patently obvious that he's the man the Maple Leafs need to try to slow down but despite their best efforts thus far, Krejci's always found a way to get around them and punish them.
"He's a real smart player," said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "He might be their most skilled player."
Krejci, combined with linemates Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, have been the dominant force in this first round series. With Krejci’s three goals, Horton's two assists, Lucic adding another, the line has combined for 22 points in the four games.
While his name isn't mentioned up there with the biggest in the game, Krejci's contributions don't go unnoticed by his teammates. His playoff success has rubbed off on everyone who’s played with him.
"He might be underrated to you guys but he's not underrated in this dressing room," said Lucic. "Especially for me, I've had the opportunity to play with him for the last four years as linemates with him and I’ve had a lot of fun along the way."