When Daniel Paille alerted the Bruins to the fact that he didn’t feel quite right after a flight from Toronto to Calgary earlier this month, he was mired in a slump. He had gone eight straight games without a point. He was sent back to Boston and diagnosed with concussion symptoms, missing the next seven games.
In the five games since his return, Paille has three goals and one assist, with a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Jets at TD Garden.
“I feel normal again, which is huge,” Paille said. “It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way — I’m still slightly sore, but I don’t sense any delay or anything like that. So it’s a good thing, I guess. For me right now the main focus is to skate and compete like I have been.”
Paille scored the team’s first goal, at 14:06 of the first, delivering on a pass from Torey Krug to the winger at the side of the net. As Paille said, “I saw him look at me the whole way, so if he didn’t pass it to me, I would have been surprised. He would have fooled me for sure.”
Krug, though, said, “I was going to shoot it and at the last second I saw he popped back up.”
Paille came close to one earlier in the game, too, earning a goalie interference penalty at 5:51 of the first after he missed on some open net and bowled over Ondrej Pavelec.
Paille also had an assist on Krug’s first goal, at 3:08 of the second.
The fourth-line winger drew praise for the way his line played Saturday, integrating yet another new piece with Jordan Caron out and Justin Florek in. It has been 13 games since the Merlot Line — Paille, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton — has played intact.
“We have a certain identity and we’ve played together for so long, and when one’s gone we try to find another identity,” Paille said. “I think we were thinking too much and not moving or skating at all, but I think the last few games we were competing a lot better with the opportunities we have.”
As coach Claude Julien put it, “You have to give credit to Dan Paille, who I thought looked really good on the right side. That was a reason that line was good was that he was able to make that transition to the other side. I thought he had a great game, too. That created a decent line.”
Of course, there was also that penalty on Paille, the second straight game in which he has gotten a trip to the box after getting through his first 33 games of the season without one.
“There are times when I don’t get penalties just because I don’t try to play dirty,” said Paille, who has 121 penalty minutes in 462 career NHL games. “But I like to play physical when I see the opportunity.
“No one really teases me about it, so that’s a good thing. But like I said, I don’t try to be an agitator or anything like that. My whole life growing up I just tried to play the right way, and I haven’t really gotten too many penalties my whole career.”
There were three fights between the Bruins and the Jets, including two just two seconds apart in the first period. At 3:16, Zdeno Chara and Chris Thorburn dropped the gloves, and then at 3:18, Matt Fraser and James Wright earned their own fighting majors.
Thorburn said that he challenged Chara for a roughing penalty that Chara earned against Blake Wheeler just 22 seconds into the game. As Thorburn said, “Any time you can get Chara off the ice, a guy of his caliber, that’s also a plus.”
The last fight was between former teammates Adam McQuaid and Mark Stuart at 13:40 of the third.
Asked if they had exchanged words, McQuaid said, “I don’t know if there was anything said. I think everyone says when you get out there and play everyone’s an opponent. I have a lot of respect for him and how he plays. He plays hard. He was a good teammate and well liked when he played here.”
The game was Julien’s 500th with Boston, and the coach received a souvenir after it was over from one of his players — though he wouldn’t reveal which one. “I had a player give me the puck, and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘That’s your puck.’ I said, ‘What for?” He said, ‘It’s your 500th.’ I didn’t know what he was talking about,” Julien said. He added, “It’s always nice to be here for that long and, like I always say, I hope I can be here for another 500.” . . . Caron was scratched with a stiff back, leading to the emergency recall of Florek . . . Loui Eriksson (concussion), who has not yet been cleared for contact, will travel with the team to California. Eriksson has been practicing with the team and skating every day, but Julien said earlier in the week that he is still “a way’s away” from playing . . . The United States women’s Olympic hockey team was at the game. The players got a standing ovation . . . Wheeler, a former Bruin, learned this past week that he had made the US Olympic team. He said he knew how close he had come to not making it, and called it a “huge honor.” He added, “I knew I was right on the bubble. I knew that it was going to come down to one of the final couple guys. I guess that speaks to the strength of USA hockey now.”