HALIFAX - Patrice Bergeron wasn't eased back into things in his return to the Boston Bruins.
In his first game since suffering a severe concussion almost 11 months ago, Bergeron played on the team's top line, the power-play unit and the penalty kill.
But if he was struggling, the 23-year-old didn't show it. Bergeron scored a goal and three assists as the Bruins pounded the Montreal Canadiens 8-3 in NHL pre-season action Monday night before 7,792 fans at the Halifax Metro Centre.
Bergeron, the game's first star, picked up a pair of assists early in the second period, then scored with 10 seconds left in the frame as he tipped home a shot from linemate Marco Sturm.
His final point came in the third as he made a beautiful feed to blue-liner Aaron Ward, who snuck in from the point and made no mistake from in close.
Bergeron, who also played on a line with Phil Kessel, missed 72 regular season games and then the playoffs last season when he suffered a Grade 3 concussion and a broken nose against the Philadelphia Flyers on October 27. Bergeron was driven face-first into the end boards by Philadelphia defenceman Randy Jones.
"Obviously, I'm very happy with the way it went," Bergeron said of his return. "I'm very happy the first game is behind me and I can now look forward. Keep getting better in training camp."
Bergeron showed good jump most of the night, especially in the final two periods when he created a lot of good offensive opportunities.
"Eleven months is a long time and I was just trying to have fun out there," he said. "But the first period, I have to admit, I was nervous.
"I'd say it took me the first period to get into it. To get a little better, get the nerves out, so I could play my game."
Sturm added two goals and two assists for Boston, while 21-year-old prospect Vladimir Sobotka scored twice. Andrew Ference and P.J. Axelsson had the other Bruins' goals.
Ben Maxwell, Tomas Plekanec and Mike Glumac scored for the Canadiens, who were badly outshot 42-19, including 29-12 through two periods.
Alex Tanguay played his first game in a Montreal uniform last night and recorded two assists while playing on a line with Maxwell and Max Pacioretty.
"First period was OK. Felt good. We had a lot of chances, some really good, then in the second period it seemed like it was a loss of energy," Tanguay said of his performance. "I couldn't get my legs going extremely well. I hesitated a few times here and there, just not knowing where to go exactly on the systems. But that will get better as the pre-season goes on and I should be fine-tuned for the regular season."
Manny Fernandez started in goal for Boston and made just 10 stops before being replaced in the third by Kevin Regan. Jaroslav Halak also played the first 40 minutes for Montreal and made 24 stops. Marc Denis was in net for the third.
As was expected, last night's contest was a heated affair between the long-standing rivals. There were hard hits throughout and four fights, including a dandy match-up in the third period between Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton and Steve Begin of the Canadiens. The two teams combined for 100 minutes in penalties
"It's fun. It's always nice to have rivalries," Tanguay said. "For me, it's going to be different. To see new teams, see new faces. Get to know the other teams."