BOSTON (CBS) — After missing the end of last season with a leg injury, veteran forward Chris Kelly couldn’t wait to take the ice with his Bruins teammates in their season opener on Wednesday night.
He had to sit and watch high above the ice as the Bruins were sent packing by the Montreal Canadiens last postseason, so there was a little extra fire to the normally-reserved Kelly leading up to the drop of the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers.
And the third-line forward made the most of his chances, burying Boston’s game-winner in the 2-1 victory with just 1:51 to go in the game. After defenseman Adam McQuaid fired a rocket on Philadelphia netminder Steve Mason, Kelly cleaned up the mess in front of the net. He beat Flyers defenseman Mike Del Zotta in a one-on-one battle for the puck, and found the back of the net to propel Boston to their first win of the season.
“It was obviously right place at the right time,” Kelly said after the win. “He’s a big goalie and it’s important to get some traffic in front of him. Luckily it paid off.”
While he was a little soft-spoken in the locker room, Kelly showed his excitement on the ice with an emphatic fist pump.
“There’s no better feeling,” he said of netting the game-winner. “I just wanted to go out there and feel good, and enjoy it. Last year was taken away from me, and made me realize how much I missed the game and want to be out there playing. I just tried to enjoy the whole night and tried to play my game.”
Kelly, who has received plenty of criticism from Boston fans and media alike for his $3 million salary, was working on the B’s third line alongside Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. It’s a trio who played together towards the end of last season, and one that felt more comfortable as Wednesday’s game played out.
“I like playing with the Swedes, even though half the time I don’t understand them on the bench,” Kelly joked. “We really hadn’t played together throughout training camp, and obviously we played together last year when the three of us weren’t injured. But I thought as the game went on we were clicking better and better.”
It may just be one goal and one win in a long regular season, but Kelly said it’s very important for himself and the team to get off to a good start.
“That’s the way we want to start,” he said. “Wins in October are just as important as wins in April, and I thought we played well. Everyone.”
Kelly and the Bruins will be right back at it Thursday night, as Boston heads to Detroit to take on the Red Wings.
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