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Heinen Makes Most of Another Opportunity

Rookie winger pots first two career goals in Bruins win over San Jose

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - David Backes had a challenge for the visitors to the Bruins' dressing room following Thursday night's win over the San Jose Sharks.

As the media drifted away from his stall and swarmed Danton Heinen, Backes hollered across the room: "Twenty bucks if you can get him to stop smiling."

On this night, however, that was an impossible task.

Heinen, recalled from Providence on Thursday morning, made the most of his return to the Bruins lineup by potting his first two career goals in Boston's 2-1 victory over the Sharks at TD Garden.

"It was pretty cool," said Heinen. "Obviously, it's something you dream of your whole life, and you kind of just go into shock for a bit there. It was awesome."

Video: Heinen scores 1st and 2nd NHL goals vs. SJ

The performance was particularly gratifying for the 22-year-old winger after what has been an up-and-down - quite literally - start to his NHL career. After breaking camp with Boston last training camp and playing eight NHL games without a point, Heinen was assigned to Providence, where he became one of the AHL's top scorers and helped lead the P-Bruins to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Heinen followed up with another strong camp this fall and was one of the team's final cuts. But injuries up front led to a three-game call-up earlier this month, during which the University of Denver product chipped in three assists.

However, with Patrice Bergeron and David Backes nearing a return early last week, Heinen was sent to Providence again. Disappointing, yes. But not devastating.

Heinen's performance after his demotion made that clear. The 2014 fourth-round pick notched a goal and five assists in helping Providence to a perfect 3-0 weekend.

Video: Heinen's first two goals lift Bruins to 2-1 win

"Obviously, you don't like it right way," said Heinen, who now has five points in four games this season, good for fifth on the Bruins. "There's no reason to pout. There's always injuries - you hate to see guys go down, but there's holes that need to be filled. They're going to call guys up, so you want to be first in line."

Heinen made sure to make the most of the opportunity.

With Boston shorthanded midway through the first, Kevan Miller dug the puck out of the corner and got the puck to Backes, who played some give-and-go with Heinen all the way to the opposing blue line. Backes then fired one on San Jose goalie Martin Jones just above the circles. Heinen charged to the net and potted the rebound for the first of his career at 9:41 of the opening frame.

"It was kind of a two-on-two so I figured if I could get it through…I know the feeling you're on the power play, you're thinking about getting that puck however you can," said Backes, whose helper was his first point of the season. "Getting it back up the ice, maybe you get a little garbage there and that's exactly what it was. But kid gets his first goal and I couldn't be happier for him and then he scores a second that ends up being a game winner.

"Quite a storybook day for him and we'll humble him back down tomorrow but he can certainly enjoy the night. He deserves it. He worked his butt off tonight."

Video: SJS@BOS: Heinen buries rebound for his first NHL goal

After Joe Thornton tied the scored with a power-play tally at 10:40 of the second, the Bruins - and Heinen - responded. When Brandon Carlo's slapper from the right point clanked off the end boards and popped out at the other side of the net, Heinen was there at the post to knock it home for the winner just under three minutes later.

"It was the kind of shot that I got a lucky bounce off the end wall. It came out pretty hot," said Heinen, who started the play with a strong forecheck. "Right place, right time."

Video: SJS@BOS: Heinen bangs in carom off end boards

Perhaps the most impressive part of Heinen's night was the fact that he did all of his work in just 8 minutes, 39 seconds - the second lowest ice-time total on either team. The limited minutes were less about Heinen's play and more about the bottom-six role he was slotted into - he played the right wing alongside Tim Schaller and Sean Kuraly for much of the night - against the Sharks.

"He's kind of realizing his role and he's accepting it and it hasn't affected his offense, obviously. He's embraced the penalty kill, he's embraced playing on a different type of line," said Cassidy, who deployed Heinen for 1:14 of shorthanded ice time.

"And that is the biggest thing that I like about him because he's learning how to be a good pro - accept the role you're given, dominate in it, see if it can grow from there. And that's where we're at with him. It's still early, but that's where we're at."

Heinen's ability to adapt to his NHL role has grown considerably since this time a year ago, and it's clearly beginning to pay dividends.

The smile on his face after the game was evidence of that.

"Every shift you just want to do everything you can," said Heinen. "You don't know how long you have up here. You have to take it day-by-day and try to put your best foot forward everyday and work as hard as you can. That's just what I'm trying to do."

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