Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak made his 500th NHL appearance on Tuesday night, becoming the 74th goalie in league history to reach the milestone, considered the equal of 1,000 games for a skater. Net-mate Tuukka Rask hit the mark Oct. 22.
“Might as well do it with a shutout,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, who watched the other half of his league-best tandem record the 49th clean sheet of his career, a 2-0 win over Carolina.
“It’s a really good accomplishment for any goalie, particularly even myself, finding myself three or four years ago in the minors,” said Halak, who was demoted to AHL Bridgeport during his stint with the Islanders. “I’m just glad that I’m part of this group. It’s a special group. We are so close in here and we keep proving it on the ice.”
Before Halak made 24 stops, Cassidy was reminiscing about the 2010 first-round playoff series in which Halak, playing for eighth-seeded Montreal, stole a thrilling seven-game series from the heavily favored Capitals.
“He was outstanding,” Cassidy said of Halak, who spent four seasons with the Islanders before signing a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the Bruins two summers ago.
Halak, who was 28-12-7 with a 2.34 GAA and .924 save percentage in his first 50 appearances as a Bruin, saw the bulk of his career’s work with the Islanders (177 games), Blues (159), and Habs (101), plus a quick stop with the Capitals (12).
“On the Island, he faced a lot of high-end shots when we played him,” Cassidy said. “He was a very, very athletic goaltender, a battler. He’s done the same thing here.
“I’m sure he could be a No. 1 in this league. I really believe that. So we’re happy to have him in that regard. We feel like we’ve got two No. 1s.”
All in all, a fine run for the 34-year-old, a ninth-round pick (271st overall) of Montreal in 2003.
“I think he’s just been a rock in there,” teammate Sean Kuraly said. “It’s a credit to him how he steps in and plays, sometimes not in the most ideal of situations. He’s been solid in there, and a really good teammate. It’s been fun to have him.”
Recognized for his achievement during a first-period stoppage Tuesday, Halak was given a warm round of applause.
At times emotional during an interview about his comeback from major shoulder surgery, defenseman John Moore said he is ready to play.
“I missed everything about it,” Moore said. “It was a long recovery. You learn a lot about yourself. You learn a lot about who’s in your foxhole. I’m really happy there’s a shining light at the end of the tunnel for me.”
Moore, cross-checked by then-Tampa Bay forward Adam Erne last March 25, played through a torn shoulder and broken humerus in the playoffs. He gutted through 10 games in the run to the Stanley Cup Final despite the fact his shoulder kept slipping out, sometimes while tying his skates.
The Latarjet procedure he had in June was Moore’s first major surgery. He learned to gain satisfaction in the incremental. “It’s hard every day when your goal is to gain 2 degrees of raising a stick over your head,” he said.
His teammates kept him going. Moore fondly recalled when a slew of them visited him at his house, including Chris Wagner (who “barged through the door and my kids were going nuts”), Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Kuraly, Torey Krug, equipment manager Matt Falconer, and Noel Acciari, who has since moved on to the Panthers. “That meant a lot,” Moore said. “I think it’s been said by a lot of guys, it’s a really special group in here.
“They do a really good job of pulling you in and making you feel a part of it, even when your contribution is drinking a Gatorade in the weight room. My wife and kids really helped me, pushing me every day with the small gains in rehab. And Kevan Miller (currently dealing with his own knee issues). He’s someone that had had the surgery that I had before. I bounced a lot of ideas off him and he really looked out for me. I’ll forever be grateful for that.”
Moore, in a one-game conditioning stint with Providence, assisted on a goal and was plus-2 in Charlotte on Sunday. Cassidy said Moore could return Thursday night against Chicago.
“He had a good game, felt good, got some of the rust off, got some of the uncertainties taken care of, in terms of puck retrievals, getting hit, putting himself in situations he had to rely on the shoulder,” Cassidy said. “He passed the test.”
Nothing to add
Joakim Nordstrom spent three seasons in Carolina (2015-18), and was around when coach Bill Peters is alleged to have punched and kicked two players there.
Peters, who last week resigned as coach of the Flames, is now under investigation by the league because of those allegations, and ex-NHLer Akim Aliu alleging Peters used a racial slur while coaching him in AHL Rockford. Nordstrom played for Peters at Rockford (2012-15), though he was not a teammate of Aliu’s.
Asked if he would contribute to the investigation, Nordstrom said he would not. He declined further comment.
Peters was an assistant on Mike Babcock’s staff for Team Canada in the 2016 World Cup. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron played for him there.
“I don’t think any of us will have too much comment on the situation,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said last week. “Obviously [we] understand the dynamic and the importance and have to be respectful of the process.
“Certainly coaches and managers and everybody, when you’re talking about young players, talking about any players, and the relationships, I think you have to continue to evolve as an organization, be very cognizant of it, respectful of everybody’s space. That’s probably all I want to expand on it at this point in time.”
Bergeron could be back in the lineup Saturday against Colorado, in the Bruins’ homestand finale, but nothing is set in stone. Cassidy didn’t commit to a return date for Bergeron, who missed his fifth game in a row (seventh in the last nine) with a core/groin ailment. Bergeron will travel for the four-game trip that begins Monday in Ottawa . . . Brett Ritchie (elbow infection) was available to play, but Cassidy opted to stick with the same group. Ritchie has played four games in the last month, sitting for 11. “Hopefully this is it,” Cassidy said of Ritchie’s infection. “We’ve given it a little more time to take care of itself.” . . . With Moore returning, forward Brendan Gaunce, who assisted on Zdeno Chara’s goal in Ottawa in his only varsity appearance, was returned to the P-Bruins . . . The Hurricanes have seen rugged sophomore Andrei Svechnikov blossom into their leading scorer (11-18—29 in 28 games). Former Bruin Dougie Hamilton ranks second in points by defensemen (10-18—28). Nine of his goals have come at even strength . . . David Krejci scored the Bruins’ second goal, making him the 18th player to score 200 in a Bruins sweater. Krejci is ranked eighth in assists (464) by a Bruin.
Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports