TAMPA BAY, Fla -- Patrice Bergeron
played 19:13, most among Boston's forwards, in his return to action from his third career concussion as the Bruins took a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals with a 2-0 shutout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"I felt pretty good out there," said Bergeron. "I was pretty happy to be back to help the team.
"It was more a matter of taking it a day at a time," explained the center of his recovery. "It felt good for the past week.
"So I decided I was ready to go, and I had some practices this week. And I had a little bit of contact with the extra guys on game day last game.
"And I felt good," he said.
Bergeron was often very good during his return, particularly in the faceoff circle, where he won 18 of 28 draws.
"I really liked the way he played," said B's Head Coach Claude Julien. "Obviously, you see the difference he can make for our hockey club faceoff wise, but also his in responsibility on both ends of the ice.
"I really liked the way he played. Obviously, you see the difference he can make for our hockey club faceoff wise, but also his in responsibility on both ends of the ice." - Claude Julien
"His line was definitely better, and his linemates obviously felt comfortable because they had been with him all year.
"So there as some chemistry there and that certainly helped us tonight."
Bergeron obviously felt comfortable, too. Asked if there were anything about his game that bothered him during Game 3, Bergeron said, "To be honest with you, I felt pretty good out there. I felt like I was myself. I felt good.
"Maybe in the first period I was kind of keeping things simple, which I think it's pretty normal, you know, coming back from -- I missed two weeks. Even though I only missed two games, it was two weeks.
"So I kept it simple, and as the game went on, I felt like I was feeling better."
The B's alternate captain did admit to being down in the immediate aftermath of the hit by Claude Giroux during Game 4 of Round 2.
"Yeah, obviously I wasn't very happy," he said. "I was pretty disappointed, especially at that time of the year. You know, you want to be out there, you want to help your team.
"So I was pretty happy with that big win," continued Bergeron. "It gave me some time to, first of all, to rest, but...I didn't miss too much time, which I was pretty happy about.
"Obviously that first night was frustrating, and it was hard to take, but I thought I stayed pretty positive in the process again. And, I mean, obviously it's behind me. I'm looking forward and I'm happy it was mild like it was."
Bergeron described his feelings after he took a hit and said it was important to get through the physical contact -- but not that important.
"I wasn't worried," said Bergeron. " Like I said, I was confident. I was ready. I was back 100 percent. And when you're like that in your mind, you know you're fine.
"I wasn't really worried about that first hit. I knew I was going to be all right."
Bergeron's impact on his teammates was anything, but mild. Sitting next to him on the postgame dais, Boston goaltender Tim Thomas
talked about Bergeron's play.
"He's very good, not just at both ends of the ice, but just in all areas of the arena," said Thomas, who earned his second career playoff shutout. "Whether it's in the faceoff circle or in our defensive corner, in the offensive corner, all over the place.
"And it was great to have him back," added Tim. "The most important thing is his health. So when I saw him get hit there against Philadelphia, it wasn't a fun thing for me to watch, and I'm just glad that he's feeling better."