NEW YORK — Hit by friendly fire the night before in a 4-1 win over the Islanders, Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron was back in the lineup Thursday vs. the Rangers.
Bergeron, struck in the face by a deflected David Pastrnak slapper, underwent X-rays after the game in Elmont, N.Y., and the X-rays proved negative, according to coach Jim Montgomery.
All of which meant that Bergeron, 37, was back at his familiar No. 1 center spot for the night’s opening puck drop, pivoting linemates Brad Marchand and Craig Smith. He did not wear any extra facial protection.
“An incredibly tough, determined professional athlete,” Montgomery said prior to faceoff at Madison Square Garden, “that we’re very, very lucky to have as our leader and someone who’s helped the Spoked-B be great for several years.”
Struck early in the third period by the Pastrnak shot that ricocheted out of the slot, Bergeron finished out Wednesday’s game, despite initially having to be helped off the ice when the puck felled him in the right faceoff circle at 4:26 of the period.
Helped off the ice by Pastrnak and Marchand, Bergeron soon returned to the bench, moments after Marchand’s power-play goal boosted the Bruins lead to 3-1. Bergeron’s right nostril was packed with gauze for the remainder of the period and, per team policy, he did not meet with the media during postgame interviews.
Most everyone watching Wednesday night was amazed to see Bergeron back on the bench, gauze tucked up his right nostril, after he exited the ice in obvious pain.
Among those amazed: Bergeron’s teammates, including Pastrnak in particular.
Pastrnak was on the bench, sitting next to Taylor Hall, when Bergeron quietly returned to the bench.
“He’s back,” Hall said to Pastrnak.
Uh, say what?
“I thought Hallsie was joking,” recalled Pastrnak. “I couldn’t believe that he’s back. I’m so happy he was alright. It wasn’t serious. I didn’t even look for him on the bench when [Hall] said he’s back … honestly couldn’t believe it.”
Bergeron (four shots, one goal) finished the night with 19 shifts and 15:20 in ice time. He also won 12 of his 21 draws.
Going on the offensive
David Krejci and Marchand led the offensive harvest with two assists apiece … The Rangers’ Artemi Panarin led all shooters with five shots on net … Derek Forbort was the night’s hit dog, delivering six of the Bruins’ 21 smacks … The Rangers fired 69 pucks Jeremy Swayman’s way, 32 of which made it on net. The Bruins blocked 24, including one by Tomas Nosek that momentarily hobbled the Czech pivot … With Brandon Carlo hors de combat, his minutes were divvied up by the remaining five blue liners. Charlie McAvoy punched the work clock for 24:38 and Forbort and Hampus Lindholm for 24:27.
Road trip coming up
The Bruins were to take a charter home and won’t return to work until the Sharks visit Causeway St. on Saturday night. They then play the next five on the road (Montreal, Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, and Toronto) before their All-Star break and mid-season siesta. Following the Feb. 1 game in Toronto, they don’t play again until the Capitals come to the Garden on Feb. 11.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.