John Moore’s teammates were happy to see him back: in the room, on the ice, and even in the penalty box.
The defenseman, making his season debut after offseason shoulder surgery, dropped the gloves in the third period after Chicago’s Zack Smith threw a questionable hit on David Pastrnak. Moore departed to make sure his shoulder was OK, but later returned and finished with 16:11 of ice time and three hits.
“I don’t know if it was the smartest decision, my first game back,” said Moore, adding that he checked out fine. “I was right there, I saw it, I didn’t like it, and felt something had to be done.”
Pastrnak was a bit thrown when he saw No. 27 tossing fists.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Pastrnak said afterward. “Hopefully he’s all right. It’s so good to have him back. He’s such a nice guy to be around. We all love him.”
Moore, cross-checked from behind by then-Tampa forward Adam Erne March 25, played 10 games in the playoffs, including five in the Stanley Cup Final, with a broken humerus and a shoulder that kept slipping out.
“You can’t say enough about him,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It’s a reaction thing. He’s not thinking about anything other than protecting his teammates. That tells you all you need to know about his character. He’ll earn a lot of respect in that locker room, that he already has.”
Moore, skating his natural side on a lefty-lefty pair with Matt Grzelcyk, displaced Connor Clifton in the lineup.
“What Johnny’s gone through, it’s tough,” said fellow defenseman Torey Krug, a longtime friend from their days facing each other on Upper Midwest travel teams (Krug is from Livonia, Mich; Moore is from Winnetka, Ill.) and Team USA.
“I can’t imagine some of those days where he’s coming in, it feels like Groundhog Day. The team’s on the road, he’s at home, he’s got two little kids, he doesn’t have a shoulder and he can’t pick them up and help that way. He’s just grinding away. He’s been through a lot.
“He’s a great player for us, too. Dynamic guy that can skate and move the puck well. He’s got that physical edge. He’s definitely important to get back for us.”
Backes feeling well
David Backes, whose rush into the zone and shot gave Joakim Nordstrom the 3-1 goal, is chipping in. He has a goal and an assist in three games back from a 13-game absence with a head injury.
“Feeling well,” said Backes, who skated 9:14 Thursday. “Working with Kim [Brandvold], our skills coach, is giving me a lot more confidence with the puck.
“Nordy and Lindy (Par Lindholm) are two guys who are responsible, they work their butts off, so I don’t feel like I’ve got extra defensive responsibilities.
“That, along with a clean bill of health, I’ve been able to just go play the game and not be concerned or tentative.”
Cassidy hoped Patrice Bergeron (core/groin injury) would join the team for its Friday practice. “Not sure on that yet,” Cassidy said after Thursday’s optional morning skate, “but he’s progressing.” Bergeron, who missed his sixth game in a row (and eighth in the last 10), returned to the ice Thursday, skating on his own after a day off . . . Does best pal Brad Marchand miss Bergeron? “I always miss Bergy,” he said. “I miss Bergy when I’m not with him at the rink.” . . . Caution is the name of the game with Brett Ritchie (infected elbow), too. He is cleared to play, but the Bruins wanted to allow him more practice time. “We’re just not sure his conditioning is at an NHL level right now,” Cassidy said. He added that they want Ritchie, in and out of the lineup over the last month, to be fully over his infection “so it’s not a ping-pong for him all year, on an off the injured reserve list.” . . . Zach Senyshyn, out since Nov. 12 with a lower-body injury, was scheduled to be back on skates Friday. Early in the second period of that Nov. 12 game against the Panthers, Senyshyn went awkwardly into the boards as he tried to close off a rush. He limped off, favoring his left leg . . . Karson Kuhlman (cracked tibia) and Kevan Miller (broken kneecap) remain off skates . . . The Bruins fell to 2-2 in overtime games. They are 0-4 in shootouts . . . They are also 4-8-20 lifetime against the Hawks in OT . . . Sean Kuraly (assist) has six points (1-5--6) in his last six games . . . Chris Wagner’s goal snapped a 13-game drought.
Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports