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Bruins Jet Back to Boston with Winning Record

Boston starts season with 2-1-0 road trip

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins / Boston Bruins

BostonBruins.com - The Bruins came back to Boston with four points in tow, following a 2-1-0 season opening road trip through Columbus, Toronto and Winnipeg.

They'll now shift their focus to Thursday's home opener at TD Garden against the New Jersey Devils.

"We're all excited to get to the home opener and we're happy we got four points out of six," said David Pastrnak, who put up four goals through the three games. "So we're all really excited to get back and see our fans and just can't wait to play in the Garden."

On the trip, the Bruins picked up a 6-3 win last Thursday against the Blue Jackets, before dropping a 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, and bouncing back with a 4-1 victory over the Jets on Monday night.

"We've got a lot of new faces in our lineup and I think it's probably not a bad way to start, on the road, to take some of the pressure away," Head Coach Claude Julien said from Winnipeg, before the team flew back East. "But, also, anytime you can come off a road trip with a winning record, it's a successful one."

"So I liked the way our guys competed. We didn't have a very good game in Toronto, but the way we competed [in Winnipeg] and bounced back - was nice to see our club react that way."

The Bruins have yet to open the scoring this season. In Columbus, they fell down 2-0 and then 3-1 before mounting their comeback; and then in Toronto, they couldn't come from behind to douse a Leafs' 3-0 first period lead.

When the Bruins fell down 1-0 yet again in Winnipeg, it could have turned into another night like in Toronto, but instead, they tied the game 19 seconds later and withstood a barrage from the Jets through the first 40 minutes. They also went a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.

"I like the way we've been resilient," Julien said of his takeaway from the Bruins' first three games. "Obviously, two of those three games, we have been. We had one tough night [in Toronto]."

"But at the same time, I'd like to see us play with the lead and start with the lead, instead of having to battle back," Julien said of what can improve. "So that's something that in the first three games of the season, we've given up the first goal - that's an area there hopefully we can get better at it."

The Bruins didn't have the cleanest defensive zone play throughout the trip, and on Monday night, they had some trouble handling the puck and getting clean breakouts with Winnipeg's hard forecheck coming at them all night.

But give them credit: Boston's back end featured three rookies, including two who made their NHL debuts in Brandon Carlo and Rob O'Gara, who didn't cave under pressure.

"I think [Carlo] and O'Gara both are very poised with the puck," said Tuukka Rask, who was between the pipes for both of Boston's wins. "They make decisions and they're smart players, so good size D-men and block a lot of shots, overall package there for us, so they definitely don't look like young guys - they're veteran-looking D-men there, and that's what we need."

Adam McQuaid has been skating back in Boston, recovering from his day-to-day injury, while Kevan Miller is out for at least another five weeks.

The Bruins also played the entire trip without Mr. Everything, Patrice Bergeron, who stayed back in Boston recovering from a lower-body injury. Where do they miss him the most?

"Everywhere," said Julien. "He's a leader. He's the best two-way centerman, I think, in the league. He can score some big goals and he can certainly shut down top players, so we miss him. But, at the same time, I think this has been a great test for our hockey club to show that we have guys that can come in and help us out."

Bergeron is due to join the team for practice on Wednesday. The team was off on Tuesday after traveling back from Winnipeg late Monday night.

"The expectation right now is for him to join us at practice when we get back," said Julien. "We certainly kept it open for him to join us on any of those games. We just didn't have a timetable for him as far as how long. But, right now, he's really close to the point, he's supposed to join us when we get back."

Leading the Way

Through three games, Brad Marchand is leading the charge with seven points (2-5=7) and a plus-7 rating. Pastrnak is on a three-game goal streak with four goals and two assists for seven points with a plus-7 rating. The wingers' current centerman in replace of Bergeron, David Backes, has three points off two goals and an assist, with a plus-7 rating.

The rookie Carlo also has a plus-7 rating through his first three NHL games. He notched his first NHL goal in Winnipeg to help insure the Bruins' 4-1 win, and recorded his first NHL point in the Bruins' season-opening victory in Columbus.

Video: BOS@WPG: Carlo buries first NHL goal off iron and in

Moore, Fourth Line Show Versatility

Along the trip, Dominic Moore picked up his first goal as a Bruin, scoring a response goal on Monday night just 19 seconds after the Jets scored. The tally tied the game at 1-1, and set Boston up for the victory.

"I thought we rose to that challenge [on the road]," said Moore. "Having said that, I think there's a lot of things that we need to continue to work at as a team. The penalties, we need to clean that up, check with our feet a bit more, keep our sticks down, but there were a lot good things, too."

Moore has formed a strong PK-tandem with Bruins newcomer Riley Nash, and has been part of a fourth line through three games that has provided energy and gained Julien's trust.

"I think there's a lot of moving parts at forward, and we're prepared to be versatile and no matter what, just work together well," said Moore.

One example of versatility came for Monday's game, when Nash moved up from the fourth line to center Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes. He provided stability in the faceoff circle, winning 67 percent of his draws.

Video: BOS@WPG: Moore nets loose puck for first as a Bruin

Schaller Makes Bruins Debut

Austin Czarnik was a healthy scratch on Monday after suiting up in his first two NHL games, with New Hampshire native Tim Schaller slotting into the lineup for his Bruins debut.

Schaller connected with former Providence College teammate Noel Acciari to set up Moore for his momentum-shifting tying goal. The forward was recalled from the Providence Bruins for the trip, when Bergeron didn't travel. He had a tough start to training camp, suffering an injury during practice, but finished out the preseason strong.

"He was good - you can tell he's played in the league before," said Julien. "He wasn't overly nervous, but he was strong. I thought he was strong for us, and we used him on the penalty kill. I thought he was a good player for us for a guy playing in his first game with our team. I liked his response."

No Rust for Rask

Rask showed no signs of lingering soreness on Monday night against Winnipeg, when he backstopped the Bruins with an outstanding 34-save performance.

Blake Wheeler scored a breakaway goal on him right out of the penalty box in the first period, but he was sharp on the rest of the night, especially when the Bruins spent the first half of the game on the penalty kill. He made back-to-back stops late in the first period on the PK to keep it a 1-1 game.

"It was all right; I saw the puck well," said Rask. "I felt like I was in a good position to make save and I mean, that one double save there, it's just tough to control that first shot, but it ended up up hitting me with that rebound and it's just one of those, sometimes you save them and sometimes you don't but today fortunately we escaped that first with the tie and kind of regrouped after that."

"I really think that might have been the turning point there, because he really gave us some life," said Julien. "He gave us a lot of confidence, and from there, we took off."

Rask finished the night with two assists - getting the secondary helper on Pastrnak's game-winner and then assisting on Zdeno Chara's empty-netter - to become the first Bruins goalie to record two assists in a game.

"That's awesome," Rask laughed, when he was told the stat. "Breaking records, yeah. That's funny. I'm happy to take that. Next game, I'll get three - how is that?"

Video: BOS@WPG: Rask denies Perreault, Lowry in set of saves

Personal Praise for Pastrnak?

Don't look for Pastrnak to give himself any praise for the way he's started the 2016-17 regular season, with a three-game, four-goal scoring streak (and his plus-7 rating to boot).

"Um, I would describe it like a good team road trip," Pastrnak said, when asked to describe his personal play throughout the trip. "We won two out of three, so I think it's pretty good."

"And I don't want to comment on myself, sorry," he said with an apologetic smile.

Video: Hear from the Bruins after their 4-1 win in Winnipeg

 

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