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Bruins welcome Jake DeBrusk back to the No. 1 line after a 17-game injury absence

In his return to the Bruins' lineup, it took Jake DeBrusk a little over two minutes to put the puck in the back of the net.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Following an absence of nearly seven weeks, Jake DeBrusk returned to the same spot.

DeBrusk, who suffered a pair of injuries (leg, hand) in the Jan. 2 Winter Classic at Fenway Park, was again the No. 1 right wing Saturday at TD Garden for center Patrice Bergeron and left wing Brad Marchand against the Islanders. He brought his foot speed and creativity to the first game back after missing 17, scored the first goal, and set his team cruising to a 6-2 win.

DeBrusk went on to add an assist on a Bergeron goal and has 17-15–32 totals in 37 games.


“I’ve been waiting for this day for a while,” DeBrusk said. “I just wanted to get a goal. I just wanted to get that first one.”

He did, 2:19 in, off a killer tic-tac-toe play with David Pastrnak and Marchand. The goal came on the power play, where he logged 1:27 with the first unit.

With DeBrusk’s help, the Bruins went 1 for 3 on the man advantage, scoring a PPG for the second game in a row. The power-play struggles of recent weeks — 0 for 20 over a six-game stretch — are in the rearview mirror.

DeBrusk, typically a regular penalty killer, did not take a PK shift. The Bruins went 2 for 2 in killing penalties.

He finished with 13:07 in a rout, one of several Bruins whose ice time was cut short. Bergeron (12:54), Marchand (15:09), and Charlie McAvoy (19:00) logged season lows in ice time.

“I thought we managed it pretty well,” DeBrusk said of his own endurance. “I got caught in the third period a little bit there. I feel it will come a lot quicker than anything else, honestly.”

The Bruins were 12-4-1 in DeBrusk’s absence, extending their lead over second-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division from 9 points to 13.


“He’s a guy who plays in every situation,” coach Jim Montgomery said before puck drop. “His hockey sense, to go with his speed and his ability to not only finish plays but make plays, makes us a lot more diverse — especially creativity-wise, matchups from other teams. He brings elite speed to go with the will and the skill of Bergeron and Marchand.”

Good for the Maple Leafs

Montgomery, an assistant coach in St. Louis the past two seasons, saw plenty of former Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly. He sounded impressed with the Maple Leafs’ big addition.

“It’s a really good acquisition by Toronto,” Montgomery said of O’Reilly, traded with former Bruins forward Noel Acciari to Toronto late Friday. “It makes them significantly better. They’ve got really three big-time centers now. I know Ryan really well, and O’Ry’s a really, really good hockey player, and he’s someone who cares about winning and has a lot of winning habits to his game.”

When they see a division rival add, do the Bruins feel they need to act or are they comfortable with where they are?

“No, we’re really comfortable,” Montgomery said. “I still would take our roster over anybody else’s. So, we’re comfortable.”

David Pastrnak was one of the Bruins to warm up with a specially wrapped stick to be signed and auctioned off to benefit Boston Pride Hockey.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Time to celebrate everyone

The Bruins celebrated “Hockey is for Everyone Night.” They welcomed LGBTQIA+, sled hockey, Black, and women’s players during the starting lineup announcement.

Bergeron hosted students from the Perkins School for the Blind, with students receiving a customized Braille roster card.

The Bruins wore Pride hats and shirts, as well as American Sign Language shirts. A host of players, including Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, McAvoy, David Krejci, Hampus Lindholm, Derek Forbort, Linus Ullmark, and Jeremy Swayman, used sticks wrapped in rainbow tape during warm-ups. Those sticks will be signed and auctioned off to benefit Boston Pride Hockey, the LGBTQIA+ and ally-friendly organization.


Ullmark’s numbers add up

Ullmark (26 saves) improved to a league-best 28-4-1 with a 1.91 goals-against average and .936 save percentage … Pastrnak’s assist on DeBrusk’s goal was the 300th of his career … DeBrusk’s return bumped Craig Smith to the No. 3 right wing spot, with center Charlie Coyle and left wing Taylor Hall. Nick Foligno played No. 4 right wing, with Trent Frederic in the middle and A.J. Greer on the left side. Frederic scored twice, Foligno had a goal and assist, and Greer contributed a helper … With center Tomas Nosek still out of the lineup, a Foligno-Frederic combo was pleasing to Montgomery’s eye, particularly in the faceoff circle. Frederic, he noted, can “take more liberties” at the dot because Foligno can win … After winning less than 50 percent of drops in five of their previous nine games, including a franchise record-low 17 percent Tuesday in Dallas, the Bruins are back to their usual success rate (55 percent Saturday). The Bruins rank third in the league (54.6 percent) in faceoff wins.

Matt Porter can be reached at Follow him @mattyports.