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Safe return for Bruins’ David Krejci; he says he’ll play Friday

David Krejci (46) faced off against defenseman Ryan Suter and the Wild in his first game after missing the past 11 games.Ann Heisenfelt/AP

ST. PAUL — The nerves had not abated for David Krejci. The Bruins center had been through this dance before: being injured, attempting to come back, and getting injured again. He tried to come back twice this season, and neither worked out.

So it was notable that Krejci seemed relieved after Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Wild, a game in which Krejci returned after 11 straight out of the lineup.

He played 18 minutes, 22 seconds with one shot on goal and three blocked shots, playing alongside Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith.

“I’m glad I got through,” Krejci said. “Safely I can say that I’ll play the next game. That’s good news and a good step forward. I managed it a little bit differently this time around. I played a little bit more smart today and got through so I’m happy about that, and obviously happy that we won.”

It was a feeling shared by his coach.


“For his first game back in a long time, I thought he handled himself well,” Claude Julien said. “He managed the puck well. You can see that he hasn’t been around the team with the hard times and the confidence that some of those guys are fighting to get through. But he was a confident player, made some good plays, and thought he had a good first night.”

Krejci had not seemed quite so confident heading into the game, just the third time he had played in the Bruins’ last 20 games.

Asked after skating Wednesday morning if he felt less nervous than in previous attempts to return, Krejci said, “At this time, no. But it’s just because I came back twice and I reinjured it again. So it’s always in my head and this time around I took a little more time on the ice and off the ice, so hopefully if I play or if not, maybe the game after that, but it’s going to be in my head. So I just try not to think about it, just focus on the game.


“I worked hard to get back where I am today. I don’t want to have any setbacks anymore. I want to keep playing from on till the end of the season.”

Krejci began skating with the team Dec. 2 after the Bruins returned from the West Coast in his third attempt to return.

Without Krejci, the Bruins have struggled to score, sinking to 22d in the league with 2.45 goals per game. They had scored more than two goals in just three of their last 15 games heading into Wednesday’s matchup with the Wild, when they managed to get a third goal in the extra session.

“You hope that he can give us an offensive boost and he can add some excitement to the lineup as far as goal scoring goes,” Lucic said. “You hope that it adds some excitement to the lineup and that it can get us past that two-goal mark.”

On Wednesday, with the center back in the lineup, that was exactly what the Bruins did.


Wednesday night marked the sixth time this season that the Bruins had played back-to-back games.

The Bruins are 1-5 in the second half of back-to-backs.

That’s a far cry from last season, when the Bruins were 13-3-1 in the second half of back-to-backs.


“Different team, different situation,” Julien said.

“A lot of different things. Right now, with all the injuries that we’ve had, we’re not as strong as we were last year. Let’s be honest about that. The other part is we’re not playing as well as we did last year, either.’’

“So there’s a lot of things that come into play. I don’t think it’s anything to do with the fatigue factor. I think it has to do more with our play and our situation.”

The Bruins have nine more back-to-back sets this season, including playing Saturday and Sunday on four consecutive weekends in March. Those eight games include five on the road.

“You have to rectify it,” Julien said of the team’s record in the second games of back-to-backs. “We’re trying to do our best here to turn things around. It’s hard work when things aren’t going your way. You’ve got to dig in a little deeper. And I’m not just talking about players, I’m talking about coaches and everybody involved. You’ve got to find a way, so I think that’s what we’re trying to do right now is try to turn this ship around and get it sailing in the right direction.”

Precaution with mumps

The Bruins had been through mumps precautions this season, a couple of weeks ago when they went to Anaheim, where the Ducks had been hit hard by the disease. But they went through them again here, given that the Wild have also been passing around the mumps.


“We knock on wood here that we’re going to try and stay as safe as possible,” Julien said. “But the one thing I can tell you is that every dressing room we go in, we disinfect the room with whatever those cans of bombs or whatever they call them. It just disinfects the whole room. We take those kind of precautions right now, and with the players it’s already been done.”

Mumps have swept through the NHL with 15 confirmed cases, including to the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and the Wild’s Ryan Suter.

The outbreak has caused multiple teams to postpone or cancel holiday visits to children’s hospitals.

The Penguins’ Beau Bennett, case No. 15, might have exposed some children to the mumps when he visited the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh recently.

No Bruins have been diagnosed with the mumps.

According to ESPN.com, the NHL sent out a second memo about the mumps outbreak on Tuesday, reemphasizing to all 30 teams the league’s guidelines on how to handle the disease.

Mr. Sudden Death

Per the NHL, the overtime goal was the seventh of Loui Eriksson’s career. Just two players — Alexander Ovechkin (10) and Steven Stamkos (eight) have more overtime goals than Eriksson since 2008-09 . . . According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Niklas Svedberg is the first goalie in Bruins history to need overtime in four of his first five career NHL wins . . . Gregory Campbell celebrated his 31st birthday by fighting Justin Falk in a bout in which barely a punch thrown . . . Julien said that he reached out to Simon Gagne, who is on personal leave from the team because of his father’s incurable liver cancer. “I touched base with him, just to see how he’s doing,” Julien said. “Nothing more than that. My reasoning to reach out to him is not to see when he’s coming back, but how he’s doing, how his family is doing.” . . . Matt Fraser was the healthy scratch among forwards. Defensemen Joe Morrow and Matt Bartkowski also sat.


Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.