QUEBEC CITY, QC - The Bruins were looking forward to getting the preseason started on Monday night against the Montreal Canadiens.
It had been a long five months without game action for the players, though a few of the young players took part in the team's rookie camp before main camp opened.
The Black & Gold ultimately took a 3-2 win from the Habs at the Videotron Centre in the first of seven preseason games before they officially open the 2017-18 season on Oct. 5 against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.
The game went as most early preseason games do, especially the first one: slow-moving, mistake-laden, and without a high level of thrill - but aside from the usual nuances, the game proved valuable for the Bruins.
The Bruins found themselves down 2-0 early in the second period, but came back with three straight goals.
Jesse Gabrielle one-timed a perfect feed from Riley Nash behind the net, going five-hole to make it a one-goal game.
The game marked the first NHL preseason action - and goal - of his career.
"It was a great play by Nasher; he was good on forecheck just had to get open and it was a really good feeling when it happened," said Gabrielle. "Just really good to get the win."
Anders Bjork then fired in a power-play goal shortly after to make it 2-2 in the second, after putting home a feed from Ryan Spooner. Bjork had originally planned the shot as a pass to Colby Cave, but the puck found its way through instead.
"I thought he tipped it at first, but yeah, it was nice that we got a lucky bounce there," said Bjork, who made his NHL preseason debut.
"I felt good out there," said Bjork. "I thought we competed really hard as a team, and how we battled back in that game, and it was a good learning experience for us. Definitely very competitive out there. Guys are battling for jobs, and it was fun hockey to play."
Tim Schaller gave Boston a 3-2 lead with a shorthanded snipe from the left circle with 9:12 to play in the middle frame, and that would prove to be the game-winner.
"Noel was good on the halfwall," Schaller said of the play that helped make his goal happen. "They made a pass and I was able to intercept it and Noel and I went down 2-on-1, and I don't know if the goalie thought I was going to pass or not, but he froze and I put it over his shoulder."
Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre split the time in goal, with McIntyre taking over at about six minutes to go in the second.
"I made some nice saves, but I thought I could have stayed a little tighter on a couple of those changes in the second period," Subban said, assessing his game. "In this game, there's a lot of positive stuff to look at, but I try to look at - not trying to be negative - but I always look at the mistakes I made and try to correct them."
"Given the first start, for sure [I felt good]," said Subban. "Obviously you want to improve as camp goes on. You don't want to plateau or just go down, so I think it's definitely a good starting point."
Cassidy's Key Takeaways
With several young players in the lineup in Quebec City, Cassidy gave his takeaways after the game.
"A lot of young guys out there," said Cassidy. "Goaltenders were good. Working backwards, I thought [Jeremy] Lauzon had a lot of energy back there, was willing to confront people and get involved in the play."
"Bjork made some good plays with the puck, obviously scored a goal. I thought Colby Cave was hard on pucks, did a good job, and the kills, was efficient around the net, hung in there pretty good," said Cassidy. "[Jesse Gabrielle] was good. It took him a little while to get going, but once he did, he was skating well, got on pucks, a couple of routes there we'll have to straighten him out on his angles, but that's stuff we don't mind doing."
"He's willing to work and got rewarded - a great forecheck I thought," said Cassidy. "How we're trying to play is play with energy, be on top, force mistakes, and I thought that goal was a great example of that. Schaller had a nice goal and had good legs tonight."
Cassidy also commented on defenseman Matt Grzelcyk's play.
"Grizz moves the puck, he's just going to have to use his speed to close in certain areas, we'd like see a little more initiative," said Cassidy. "He can't take on big men, but to use his quickness and speed to create a few more turnovers. We'll ask him to keep working on that, but I think the majority of our young guys, probably all of them, I can't find much fault with."
Roster and Lineup vs. Montreal Sept. 18
Jesse Gabrielle-Riley Nash-Noel Acciari
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Spooner-Anders Bjork
Tim Schaller-Colby Cave-Zach Senyshyn
Kenny Agostino-Jack Studnicka-Chris Porter
Matt Grzelcyk-Paul Postma
Kevan Miller-Chris Breen
Jeremy Lauzon-Tommy Cross
Extras: Justin Hickman, Connor Clifton
Goalies: Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre