BOSTON - Much of what Noel Acciari delivers on the ice does not show up on the scoresheet. Box scores do not include columns for toughness, grit, or hustle.
Such traits have, however, helped endear him to his teammates, coaches, and fans.
Over his first 42 National Hockey League games, Acciari has established himself as a trusted member of the Bruins' fourth line. And in recent contests, the 25-year-old has formed a solid unit with Riley Nash and Dominic Moore, creating not just energy, but a number of offensive opportunities.
Despite those chances, the Rhode Island native was still searching for his first career goal.
That search ended on Tuesday night when Acciari charged hard to the net and finished a pretty feed from Nash to extend Boston's one-goal lead late in the third period and help lift the Bruins to a 4-1 win over Nashville at TD Garden.
Video: NSH@BOS: Acciari pots Nash's feed for first NHL goal
"It feels pretty good. Couldn't have done it without a good D-zone and Riley Nash with an unbelievable pass, so he left me with the easy part there," said Acciari, whose team won its second consecutive game and remains three points ahead of Tampa Bay for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"Your first NHL goal is a special feeling and to finally have it…I couldn't have done it without the other guys, the other four, five guys on the ice. But it feels good."
Nashville was pushing after cutting the Bruins' lead to 2-1 at 11:16 of the third on a taly from Craig Smith. But Acciari made sure to end any thoughts of a comeback, when the winger went hard to the net on a 3-on-1 with Nash and Drew Stafford, stopped at the right post, and directed Nash's pass by Pekka Rinne at 15:47.
"I'm not really thinking at that point," said Acciari. "I'm just - my mind is kind of just blank and as soon as I see it hit the netting, it was special and [I was] just excited."
Video: Acciari talks about scoring his first NHL goal
Acciari was up to his usual tricks early on, delivering several big hits to help the Bruins establish a physical presence en route to a 2-0 first-period advantage on goals from Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. For the night, Acciari finished with a game-high eight hits in 13 minutes, 7 seconds of ice time.
"I'm glad I don't have to play against him because those look like they hurt a lot of the times," Nash said of Acciari's physical play. "It doesn't matter if he's hitting you or you're trying to hit him. He's pretty sturdy. And he just creates a lot of space. If he's in on the forecheck and hits one of their D-men, it kind of takes them out of the play and gives us a couple extra feet with the puck.
"It's nice to watch. It's nice to see a guy on our line banging someone. I know me and Dom aren't the most physical guys. But, Noel is picking up where we're a little short."
Recapturing that physical play was a priority for Acciari. After a lower-body injury sidelined him in November, the Providence College alum struggled to find his game and was sent to the Providence Bruins in early January.
It was during that two-month stretch in the AHL that Acciari regained his confidence and earned his return trip to Boston. Acciari was recalled on March 19 and has since played in all five games.
"I think I kind of strayed when I got back from my injury - I kind of strayed away from the hitting game and just getting in on the forecheck," said Acciari, who also received a 10-minute misconduct during a large scrum late in the third period.
"Just kind of getting back to that down in Providence was huge and kind of got my confidence up down there helped out a lot…when I got the call up I was ready for anything."
Video: Chara notches 600th career point in Bruins' win
His presence on the fourth line has opened up opportunities for linemates Moore (he assisted on David Backes' empty-netter) and Nash, who have combined for four goals and six assists over the last five games.
"He's come up here and really given us an opportunity to look at that fourth line, maybe a little heavier in terms of physicality, because he can get there to finish checks," said Cassidy. "Part of the process with Noel that we talked about was rounding out his offensive game. You're starting to see more, he's making tight-area plays, and that was a great finish, obviously great play by Riley Nash.
"He's really added just to that line and kind of slid in there seamlessly…he's a good fit on that line, with Nash and Moore."
Rask Comes Up Big
Despite some question marks about his health in recent days, Tuukka Rask was recovered from a lower-body injury and was back between the pipes Tuesday night against the Predators. Rask was tremendous, making 24 saves to snap his four-game losing streak.
"I loved it," Cassidy said of Rask's battle level. "He really worked hard to find pucks in traffic, they created some good opportunities, and even the goal against, he found it. They just tipped it at eye level, so it was going to be a tough one, and we need to be better in the shooting lane on that one. But I though he was terrific, very pleased with his performance."
Video: NSH@BOS: Rask shuts down Arvidsson with the glove
Cassidy said following the victory that a pre-game transaction to recall Zane McIntrye from Providence on an emergency basis was precautionary. Backup Anton Khudobin was feeling a bit under the weather, but was active and sat on the Bruins' bench.
"Nothing to do with Tuukka," Cassidy explained. "He was fine, ready to go. I know there was some speculation of what might have been going on, but it was nothing nefarious there. It was just Dobby a little under the weather. Providence wasn't playing, we brought him up. It's a short drive. Nothing serious."
Krejci Good to Go
David Krejci did not participate in Tuesday's morning skate and was a game-time decision because of an upper-body injury, but the center did suit up and potted his 22nd goal of the season to give Boston a 2-0 lead late in the first period.
"He looked good," said Cassidy. "I told him, I said, 'If you wanted a day off, you should have just asked me,' because I thought he was flying. But obviously he had a little injury that was nagging him, and he took care of it, and he looked good.
"Their line had a lot of pop tonight early on, creating offense, and probably could have had a few more goals…and they didn't suffer at the other end as well. So, I liked his game a lot."
Video: NSH@BOS: Krejci scores off give-and-go with Pastrnak
Chara Grabs Milestone
Zdeno Chara picked up the 600th point of his career when he assisted on Bergeron's goal at 2:28 of the first period. The Captain fired a wrister from the point that bounced out to Bergeron, who punched it home for his 18th goal of the season.
Video: NSH@BOS: Chara earns 600th point on Bergeron's tally