Not only were the Bruins fighting off the Canadiens for first place and a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference, they wanted to prove themselves against a team they had lost four of five against this season and also show they weren't intimidated by Montreal's talk following a hit by Boston captain Zdeno Chara that knocked Max Pacioretty out of the previous matchup with a concussion and fractured vertebra in his neck.
Campbell answered the bell in all respects, scoring a pair of goals in the Bruins' dominant 7-0 victory and picking up a five-minute fighting major for a scrap with Canadiens defenseman Paul Mara.
Campbell's first goal, a tip in of a Chara shot, was part of a three-goal first period that helped Boston establish its superiority. Then, with 16.5 seconds left in the second, he dropped the gloves against Mara and the two squared off near the B's logo at center ice. Despite being the smaller man in the battle, Campbell more than held his own as the players traded a series of mostly overhand rights for about 30 seconds before the officials intervened.
Earlier in the period, Mara had taken a double roughing minor for going after Bruins veteran Mark Recchi. Campbell, finishing up his first season in Beantown, earned rave reviews in the dressing room for coming to the defense of his teammate.
"Never mind the two goals, he took it upon himself to settle something that happened with [Recchi] and Mara, and he spotted him about five inches and 30 pounds," forward Scott Thornton told ESPN.com. "But he's fearless and I can't say enough good things about him as a teammate. He's a great friend and a great teammate."
A third-period assist would have completed the hat trick famously named for "Mr. Hockey," but instead Campbell did something that hadn't been accomplished in the NHL previously this season -- he scored a 3-on-5 shorthanded goal with both Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand in the box for the Bruins. It was Campbell's 12th goal of the season -- one off his career high -- and put the finishing touches on a statement game for Boston.
"These are fun games to play," Campbell told ESPN.com. "We had tremendous support from our fans. It was important for us to get off to a good start and just to play. With everything that has been surrounding this game, with all the things that don't involve the actual game, it was important for us to play our game. We collectively treated it like a playoff game and rightfully so because it had that feel to it. You could tell everyone was ready."
It is really special. I had a lot of friends and family here tonight, and for my first [NHL] game in here it was great. I played here as an elementary-school player in the city championships and this was my first time back. It was a lot of fun.
— Toronto native Brandon Pirri after scoring 2 goals for Panthers in win at Maple Leafs on Thursday