It wasn’t only the Stars’ Tyler Seguin making his return against his former team Tuesday night. The Bruins’ Loui Eriksson was also back, also against his former team.
After suffering a concussion Oct. 23 against the Sabres — courtesy of an illegal check to the head by Buffalo’s John Scott — Eriksson missed the next five games, most recently Saturday’s game against the Islanders in New York.
But Eriksson passed his final concussion test Monday afternoon and, after skating with the Bruins each of the last five days, he was declared ready to go by the team. He had three shots and one attempt block. He had 20:17 of ice time, and was given the third shot for the Bruins in the shootout, although he couldn’t convert in Boston’s 3-2 loss.
“Felt good puck-wise, the head felt all right,” Eriksson said after the game, adding that he didn’t feel hesitant on the ice. “I got some hits out there from them and it felt good, so that’s positive.”
Eriksson was just starting to find chemistry with linemate Patrice Bergeron when he was knocked out of the game against Buffalo. The Bruins have struggled since, culminating in their worst effort of the season against the Islanders.
Eriksson’s return should help turn that around, with the second line (Brad Marchand, Bergeron) being reunited Tuesday night. Bergeron had seven shots on net and Marchand added three.
“I think we just need to keep doing the things we did there before I got hurt, and I think we’ll be fine,” Eriksson had said before the game.
And Eriksson said he wasn’t going to be distracted by the team on the other side of the ice.
“I had a lot of good memories from Dallas when I played there, but they changed almost the whole team,” Eriksson said. “So it’s a brand new team for them, too. But I’ve been in Dallas for eight years, you get used to everything there. You miss some things there, but it’s nice to come here.
“It’s a really nice city to play in, kind of similar to where I’m from in Sweden, so I really like it here, and the team is really good, too.”
While the team struggled to put together a complete effort, one player was happier with his play than he has been lately. Marchand said he thought his game and the play of his line is “going in the right direction.”
The winger, who has had a difficult start to his season, had those three shots, one missed shot, and two hits in 16:07 of ice time. He had a golden chance in the third period in front of the net and couldn’t put it in, but he thought his game showed improvement.
Asked if he was happy with his play, he said, “I think, at times. Saw a couple of turnovers I wish we could have back and a few opportunities I missed that normally I’d finish, but think it’s a step in the right direction and I just have to build off it.”
He said he felt more confident making plays in the corners, and that it helped being back on the ice with Bergeron and Eriksson.
“It could be a lot of things,” Marchand said, on being more engaged in the game. “I tried to focus a little more for tonight and be a little more prepared, but I think a little more comfortable again with Loui back there and playing, practicing with him a little bit now and Bergy for a little bit. So, definitely felt better, still got to clean up a few areas.”
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk played after missing Saturday’s game. He injured himself crashing into the boards against Anaheim Thursday night.
“I went into the boards a little awkwardly,” Boychuk said. “When I got up I couldn’t put any pressure on my right foot. It was my back. It just sent the pain down my back, so I couldn’t really put any pressure on my foot.”
Asked if he’s back to 100 percent, Boychuk said, “Yeah. [Monday] it felt good, we had some good battles. There were no issues there. Today it felt normal.”
He played 24:14, with two shots and two shots blocked.
He acknowledged it was good to take the game off, as much as he didn’t want to do it, saying, “Just take the one game off, and make sure you’re 100 percent because I wasn’t. That one game off helped recover what could have been, if I’d gotten hit again, maybe five games. It’s a smart decision.”
Boychuk stayed behind in Boston last weekend, giving him a chance to watch the game vs. the Islanders on TV.
“So painful,” he said. “You’re just sitting at home and you can’t do anything about it. It’s probably the worst.”
Reilly Smith also got a chance to play against his former team in the Stars, notching an assist. Smith was part of the deal that sent Seguin to Dallas, coming to Boston with Eriksson, Matt Fraser, and Joe Morrow.
“There’s definitely a little extra motivation,” Smith said before the game. “It’ll be a little weird the first couple shifts, seeing all those guys, having played against them. But at the end of the day it’s still just another game playing a different team.”
Smith played 40 games for the Stars, including 37 in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, scoring three goals with six assists. Smith already has a goal and seven assists in just 14 games this season.
“There’s definitely a bigger onus on winning,” Smith said about adjusting to Boston. “They have higher standards here. I remember going to Dallas, the goal was to make the playoffs every year, where here it’s to win the Stanley Cup.”