Bruins

Emotional night for Backes as he returns to St. Louis with Bruins

Emotional night for Backes as he returns to St. Louis with Bruins

ST. LOUIS -- David Backes knows it’s going to be an emotion-filled moment when he takes the ice tonight at the Scottrade Center for the first time since leaving the St. Louis Blues organization, which he bled, sweated and played for over the last 10 years.

He played 727 games in St. Louis, eventually becoming captain and helping the team advance to the Western Conference finals last year. But last July 1 he signed as a free agent with the Bruins, and has become the same kind of emotional and physical leader he was for the Blues.

Still, this return to his adopted home of St. Louis has been on his mind for a while.

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“I’m going to try to control myself and my emotions, and live in the moment while enjoying every second of it,” said Backes, who has 11 goals and 21 points in 35 games this season with the Bruins. “There are a few times in your career when you get special nights, and tonight is going to be a special night for me, no question, coming back to a place where I spent 10 years. I’ve got a lot of great memories here. My wife and daughter flew in for the game, a lot of friends will be sitting with them and I just want to enjoy every second of it, be in the moment, not look past it and not take anything for granted.

“At the end of the day I’m going to do everything I can to help my team come out of here with two points against a team that I know is very tough, and has already beaten us once this year. But in the midst of that there will be some special moments throughout, and I want to enjoy every second of it. It starts with morning skate and some of the familiar faces around the rink.”

Backes has already crossed paths with his ex-teammates once before, when St. Louis came into TD Garden and defeated the B's, 4-2, on Nov. 22.

"It’s probably stranger for him than it is for us,” said defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who succeeded Backes as Blues captain. “We're still here, and we're going on business as usual. Like I said to him yesterday, it just feels like you've been hurt for 40 games now that he's back here. I know for [Backes’ wife] Kelly it's a little bit weird too coming back and seeing everybody, seeing all the friends that they've known for a long time. I think he's adjusting. The way he plays, too, I think he'll go out there and do what he's going to do.

“We know he plays the game pretty honest. He keeps the other team on their heels. He plays the game hard, we know that. Obviously he was the captain here for as long as he was, so you miss that. You miss that emotional side of him being the guy.”

Backes has already shown a high motor and fiery, vocal leadership in just a half-season with the Bruins, and he sets the standard for the rest of the team by playing a physical game and consistently paying the price at the front of the net. The B's are expecting more of what they’ve come to rely on from Backes even as he readies for one of the most emotional games of his career.

“I don’t worry about what he brings to the table” said coach Claude Julien. “I know what he brings to the table every night. I expect him to do that again tonight because he does that on a regular basis. But that’s not denying that this is a big night for him. To come back to the place where he was captain and played for many years, there’s no doubt it’s going to be an emotional night for him. Hopefully we can reward him with a win here.”

So what happens when you put an emotional player in an ultra-emotional moment in his longtime NHL home for the first time? It could be something special.

Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

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Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins all kinds of energy out of the starting gate, and made a couple of plays that allowed his team to hold a lead despite getting outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. DeBrusk went hard to the net splitting a couple of San Jose defenders on the first goal, and fired a shot on net that created a rebound for Peter Cehlarik to cash in on. Then DeBrusk scored a little bit later on a rush where he beat Brent Burns in a foot race to a loose puck, then whistled a wrist shot past Aaron Dell for his fourth goal of the season. DeBrusk finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net while falling just short of 16 minutes of ice time in the victory. It was a strong effort from DeBrusk shortly after being a healthy scratch, and showed what he’s capable of when he gets his skating legs going.

BLACK EYE: Brent Burns was a complete mess for the Sharks. He was burnt by Jake DeBrusk in each of the first two Bruins goals in the first period with the B’s rookie going right at him with the attack. He also didn’t make it to the net with 12 of the 16 shots that he attempted and Burns finished with seven giveaways as well. It’s been a rough follow-up season for Burns after last year’s Norris Trophy season where he’s tried to do too much for the Sharks, and his game has suffered as a result. That seemed to be the case for Burns against the Bruins as well where his mistakes played a big role in the Sharks dropping the game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins won the game when they managed to survive an opening 20 minutes where they were outshot 17-5, and even better they had a 2-1 lead based on some offensive fireworks from Jake DeBrusk. They were also aided by a couple of video reviews where the Bruins took a San Jose goal off the board when it was ruled that a crashing Joonas Donskoi punched a puck into the net with his glove. The Peter Cehlarik goal was also upheld at the other end after a challenge from the San Jose bench. It looked like DeBrusk was tripped before he partially crashed into Aaron Dell that set up the Cehlarik goal, and that’s clearly how the referees saw it after reviewing the play.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Anton Khudobin, who stopped 36-of-37 shots and improved to 5-0-2 on the season with another strong win aided by a stalwart defensive effort in front of him. Khudobin now has 12 of the 20 points that the Bruins have amassed on the season, and he absolutely rewarded the B’s for opting to go with the Bruins backup for a second game in a row as they ride the hot goaltender. Khudobin was helped by a number of Bruins blocked shots in the third period when the game was still very tight, but it was also about Khudobin coming up with 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were getting outplayed by the Sharks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of Bruins rookies that have scored their first NHL goals this season, including Peter Cehlarik finally getting his first NHL score Saturday night in his 14th career game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We need them. They’re in the lineup and they’re playing significant minutes. We need them to produce for us. Tonight we needed some offense early, and they provided it for us.” – Bruce Cassidy, on the role of the rookies in the win where it was all first-year players Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen doing the scoring vs. San Jose. 

Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

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Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Anton Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

NOTES: Sharks F Danny O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.

UP NEXT

Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.