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Pastrnak Returns, Kuraly to Make NHL Debut in Tampa

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins / Boston Bruins

TAMPA - David Pastrnak returns to the lineup on Thursday night in Tampa, as the Bruins close out their three-game road trip against the Lightning.

Pastrnak finished out serving his two-game suspension handed out by the NHL's Department of Player Safety.

After the couple of games up in the press box, the winger has plenty of energy to bring to the night's matchup.

"It's nice to be back and try to help the guys," said Pastrnak. "I'm just trying to get better every day - had a couple of days off, so didn't have to save my energy for anything, so I tried to work hard and get better."

The Bruins will be glad to have Pastrnak's offensive flair back, after the forward started the season with five goals and three assists through his first seven games.

"Well, we can certainly use some scoring," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the Bruins' pregame skate at Amalie Arena. "But I think Pasta just needs to go back and play the way he's been playing before the suspension."

"I think he's had a good start to the season, so hopefully we get some good shifts out of that line and then continue to give us that little bit of dominance that they showed at times this year so far."

Pastrnak's been a strong complement to the duo of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

"They're great players, you know. They're difference makers on our team, so it's nice to be playing with those two," said Pastrnak. "They have a lot of talent and I have a lot to learn from them, so just trying to listen to them and play how they want me to."

Beleskey Likely a Scratch vs. Lightning

When the Bruins went through morning line rushes on Thursday at pregame skate, Sean Kuraly slotted in on the left wing with Riley Nash at center and Jimmy Hayes on the right.

Matt Beleskey was on the ice, but did not rotate in on left side for the Bruins' full-ice line rushes.

Following the skate, Julien confirmed that Kuraly would be making his NHL debut, and that Beleskey may be a scratch.

"He just certainly hasn't found his game," Julien said of Beleskey, who is searching for his first point of the season. "Right now, we need better from him and we've done everything we can to help him out there, so right now, I feel it's not a bad thing to take a step back and watch a game and hopefully regroup in his mind and come back with the intentions of being in there every night."

"But he's a good player and right now, I think we're getting a little bit more out of our role players than we are from him, so this is a decision based on performance, so this is what I'm going with."

Julien had been asked following Wednesday's practice in Tampa about players with lower production on the team, and if he had faith that they would eventually catch up.

"When you're winning, I guess you have a little bit more patience for those guys and you give them that opportunity to find their game, but there's no doubt, there's some guys that are not where they should be production-wise and you hope that's going to come," said Julien. "And while you're winning, that's great, but hopefully it comes at a time when we really need them and that they can get their game to where it should be, so we just keep working with those guys, and bottomline is to help them in one way and make them accountable in another."

Julien had hinted after Wednesday's practice that Kuraly may get a look soon.

"You know, we kept him here and the goal is certainly not to sit him out, so we may look at that, and we'd like to see him as well," Julien had said of Kuraly. "He's a guy that plays with a lot of energy."

"And he probably needed some time down there [with Providence] at least to start and work on his game, as far as positionally - he's got a lot of energy, but sometimes he gets caught out of position, so they've worked with him down there. We'll give him another look and we're going day by day here with all of these guys because of our injuries."

Kuraly Excited for Debut

For Kuraly, Thursday night will be a dream come true.

"I think the most important thing is to just treat it like a game that I regularly play and do what I do, and try to stick to that and keep it simple," said Kuraly, who joined the team Monday on his first NHL recall.

Kuraly was first recalled on an emergency basis when Patrice Bergeron's status was in question for Monday night's game against the Florida Panthers. Bergeron was able to play in the game, so Kuraly spendt the night in the press box as a healthy scratch.

When the Bruins assigned Danton Heinen to the Providence Bruins on Wednesday, the roster move opened the door for Kuraly to get his opportunity.

He skated in one practice and one pregame skate with Nash and Hayes, so the chemistry among the trio will need to form quickly.

"I think the simpler the better, just sticking to the basics and not try to do too much or play out of my role or anything is going to be the best thing for me, and for my linemates, and for the team," said Kuraly.

"I think, at my best, I'm simple and hard and try and play fast, and I think if I'm doing those things, I'll be able to help the team," he said. "And playing a little physical at times and winning my battles and really doing the simple things right and not too flashy of a player - I don't think I'll be on the highlight reel or anything but that's not my game, that's not me, so over time, I think the best parts of my game will come out."

Kuraly is in his first professional season after playing college hockey at Miami University for four years, three of which were spent with fellow Bruin Austin Czarnik (Kuraly captained the team his senior year). His first taste of the pro game came during the preseason.

"I think the preseason was a good spot to be exposed to some of this hockey I've never been exposed to before," he said. "Right now, I feel more confident having those games under my belt at least and know that I have been in this situation somewhat before."

Heinen Joins Providence

With Pastrnak returning to the lineup, Heinen's assignment wasn't too much of a surprise, since he had been filing in alongside Bergeron and Marchand.

Czarnik has also played well in his second recall with the group, and has been skating on a line with David Krejci and Ryan Spooner.

"In his case, he probably needs to go down there and get better and get more confident and get stronger," Juien said of Heinen. "And there's areas that we talked to him about, as far as getting better, but certainly not unhappy with him. I thought he had a great camp. I think he's going to be a great player of the future, whether that's shortly or a little later, I think he's got all of the potential to be a good player in this League."

Backes Skating Back in Boston

David Backes began skating on Wednesday back in Boston. Thursday night will mark his fifth game out of the lineup since having surgery on his elbow a week and a half ago on Oct. 24.

"He hadn't skated in a while, so he started skating and again, we're hoping that everything goes well and maybe having a chance at Saturday," said Julien.

When Julien was asked specifically if Backes could be back in the lineup on Saturday, Julien replied, "I don't know yet, but I hope so."

Pregame Skates Lines and Defense Pairings 11/3

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner-David Krejci-Austin Czarnik
Sean Kuraly-Riley Nash-Jimmy Hayes
Tim Schaller-Dominic Moore-Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
John-Michael Liles-Colin Miller

Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Zane McIntyre

Projected Scratches: Matt Beleskey, Joe Morrow

Video: Pastrnak returns as Bruins face Bolts

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