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June 18, 2013

Kelly quietly playing a major role in Bruins' wins in Stanley Cup final

BOSTON — Over the Boston skyline sometime before 8 p.m. last night, a double rainbow appeared following several hours of pelting rain, crackling lightning and a 20-degree drop in temperatures.

Inside the TD Garden, there was an even more beautiful sight: a Stanley Cup shutout victory for the ever-surging Boston Bruins.

Heroes galore wore Black-and-Gold last night in a 2-0 Game 3 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks, one that gave the home team a 2-1 lead in the series. There’s Tuukka Rask’s whitewashing between the Boston pipes; Jaromir Jagr’s thread-the-needle-like-a-Singer-sewing-machine pass to Patrice Bergeron for a power play goal; Zdeno Chara’s continued dominance defensively (who can doubt this guy isn’t the best at his position in the league when it matters most) ... you could literally go up and down the Boston roster and find a reason to praise virtually every player who took to the ice last night.

So why focus on perhaps the Bruins’ most humble and reserved player?

Because Chris Kelly has been back to his old self these last two games — not ironically, both wins for his team. And when Kelly is on his game, the Bruins seem to be virtually unbeatable.

“Kells is more of an in-room type of guy, and we get to see the personality he is. He’s been bringing a lot of leadership (on) the ice for us, and I think we’re happy to have a guy like that in the room,” said his linemate, left wing Daniel Paille, who scored the game-winning goal on a play set up by Kelly. “I think he’s one of our most vocal leaders on the team, and I think that’s amazing to have -- and guys respond to it.”

Beloved by fans during the 2011 championship run after being acquired in a late February 2011 trade, Kelly was maligned earlier in these playoffs for not doing the things that ... well, make Chris Kelly who he is. The 32-year-old checking line center didn’t score a goal or dish out an assist in seven games against Toronto, five against the Rangers or during Boston’s four-game sweep of the Penguins. He was an ugly minus-3 during Boston’s triple overtime loss in Game 1 against Chicago, dropping him to minus-9 for the playoffs, and found himself playing on the fourth line.

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