BOSTON - Returning to the lineup after missing two weeks early in the season is typically no easy task. David Krejci made it look otherwise on Tuesday night.
After missing five games with an upper-body injury, the 33-year-old was back in action against the San Jose Sharks and promptly delivered a standout performance in a 5-1 victory at TD Garden.
Krejci potted his first goal of the season - a blistering one-timer from the left-wing circle in the first period - and added an impressive assist on Charlie Coyle's second-period marker, while also landing three shots on goal in 19:19 of ice time.
"Scoring a goal in the first period always helps, but honestly it was just so good to be out there with the guys," said Krejci. "They've been playing some really good hockey lately and I just wanted to be a part of it, so I'm happy to get some points tonight.
"There were some shifts where I felt good and some shifts where I had a puck on my stick and no one was around me and I lost it, but that's understandable, they'll come back. So some good stuff, some not so good."
Video: Krejci addresses media after 5-1 Win over Sharks
For the Bruins, there was nothing negative about having their No. 2 center back in the lineup. Krejci's return allowed coach Bruce Cassidy to role out a strong four-line attack, with a backbone of Patrice Bergeron, Krejci, Charlie Coyle, and Sean Kuraly up the middle.
"He adds a whole other dynamic, I think, with just his game and how he plays," said Coyle, who had been filling in for Krejci as the B's second-line pivot. "Obviously, we know how that first line goes with how successful they've been. But for him to slide in and just do what he does and work with Jake [DeBrusk] and whoever else on that right wing, that's huge.
"Then I get to play my spot where I thought I was going to be and just try to get some continuity and chemistry with those guys. It was nice, it paid off right away with how we played tonight. Hopefully we can keep building that and build that more."
Krejci was flanked on his left by DeBrusk, his familiar partner in crime for much of the past three seasons, and on the right by Danton Heinen, who got the bump up to play on his off side. Heinen has played alongside DeBrusk and Krejci at times in the past and seemed to fit well on Tuesday night, picking up the secondary assist on Coyle's tally.
"Listen, we need him going. We know that. And it's good to get off on the right foot tonight," Cassidy said of Krejci. "I think he can drive a line when he's going. And we didn't expect him to do that necessarily tonight, he's missed time. But that's what we want out of David. He's a pro, he's been around, he's a Stanley Cup champion. We need him to pull that line along.
"He's got a constant in [Jake] DeBrusk and then whoever's on that other side. We've had a lot of discussions - individually, myself and David - about different guys maybe in there, but we've asked him to just drive the line. If there's really a poor fit, then let's talk about it. Otherwise, you might see some different players.
"That's what we want him to do, because there's going to be nights that Bergy's line is going to get neutralized. It doesn't look that way right now, but we know it's going to happen."
Video: SJS@BOS: Krejci unloads slap shot for power-play goal
More Than A Game
Chris Wagner returned to the lineup on Tuesday night after missing one game with a sore foot, the result of a blocked shot over the weekend during a win over the Blues. The winger appeared to be anything but hampered as he notched a goal - his first of the year - and an assist with a plus-2 rating and three shots on goal in 13:01 of ice time.
It was the Walpole native's best performance of the young season, highlighted by his silky-smooth finish on a breakaway - one of three such attempts for the 28-year-old - to put the Bruins up 4-1 midway through the second.
And after the game, Wagner revealed that the goal, coming on Hockey Fights Cancer Night, held a very special meaning.
"Just want to give a shout out though to one of my buddies, Tom Boudreau, who was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma last week, so we're going to start raising money for him…Toughtom.com," said Wagner. "Give him a shout out. He's a fellow Xaverian [High School] brother…[my foot is] kind of sore, but it's nothing compared to what he's about to go through."
Video: Wagner Addresses Media After 5-1 Win Over Sharks
There He Goes Again
David Pastrnak quickly squashed his one-game goal drought on Tuesday night, when he rifled yet another one-timer from the left-wing circle on the power play to open the scoring in the first period. It was the winger's 12th goal of the season, making him just the third player in team history to reach that mark in a single October, joining Charlie Simmer (12 in 1985) and Phil Esposito (14 in 1973).
Pastrnak also extended his point streak to 10 games, making him the sixth NHL player since 1989-90 to record four or more point streaks of at least 10 games before the age of 24. The others: Evgeni Malkin (5), Sidney Crosby (5), Eric Lindros (5), Alex Ovechkin (4), and Pavel Bure (4).
Brad Marchand picked up an assist on Krejci's first-period marker, extending his career-high point streak to 11 and his career-best assist streak to 10.
Video: SJS@BOS: Pastrnak nets massive one-timer for PPG
The victory over the Sharks pushed the Bruins' win streak to four and point streak to eight. Boston, which has garnered points in 11 of 12 games this season, is now 9-1-2 on the year, matching the team's best 12-game start in franchise history (1929-30). And yet, Cassidy believes there is still work for his club to do.
"We're getting there. I think these past four, five, six games, we've progressively tightened up, played more our style where teams have got to earn their way out there," said Cassidy. "I thought at the start of the year we were a little bit too loose, even though our goals against was down. I thought that was a product of probably our goaltenders and then playing the right way once we got the lead.
"But, I see us more start to finish now, playing that way. Listen, nobody's going to be at 60 minutes every night at this time of the year. You're still figuring out your team, guys are still getting going, but we're getting closer. I like where we're at."
Video: SJS@BOS: Wagner goes backhand for breakaway goal