BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins did not get off to a strong start in Columbus on Thursday night. Tuukka Rask allowed one of the softer goals of his career less than three minutes into the game and the team’s young defensemen like Brandon Carlo and Rob O’Gara looked nervous to start their NHL debuts.
But after the shaky, uneven first period, the Bruins recovered and took it to the Blue Jackets, outscoring them 6-1 in the final two periods to earn a 6-3 victory in the 2016-17 season opener. Without stalwart center Patrice Bergeron, the temporary line of Brad Marchand – David Backes – David Pastrnak dominated with a combined 12 points.
Head coach Claude Julien lauded the team for having the mental toughness to hang in the game and fight back after the first period, a quality that has been somewhat missing from the team in the past two seasons.
“I really didn’t think we played that bad [in the first period],” said Julien. “[There were] just two mistakes that were really costly and it was unfortunate, but I still felt out team played well, even in the first period. … It was just a matter of getting ourselves back in the game and cleaning up some of those little issues that we had, so we did that.
“I think we showed some resilience, some character, and it was nice to see guys step up here and find a way to win a hockey game.”
Julien acknowledged the massive hole in the roster left by a player of Bergeron’s caliber and praised the strong effort put in by the top line with Backes filling in at center in No. 37’s absence.
“For David Backes to step in there and replace one of the best forwards in the league and have instant chemistry with that line was important and made a big difference,” said Julien, “but all three of them played extremely well. It was nice to see we were able to come through with a big win missing a guy like Bergeron in our lineup.”
For a team that started off shakily and put themselves in an early deficit, the Bruins sure passed the first test of the season. They’ll get another when they head to Toronto on Saturday to face the Maple Leafs and star rookie Auston Matthews.