David Backes hadn’t played a game since Nov. 2 when he collided with Ottawa Senators’ Scott Sabourin in a scary incident that left Sabourin bloodied on the ice.
Backes left that game and didn’t return and was dealing with an upper-body injury since then. He practiced with the team this week without restrictions and made his return to the Boston Bruins’ lineup Sunday night.
And boy, did he leave quite the mark.
Backes scored the game-winning goal in Boston’s come-from-behind 3-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. The crowd went crazy, the bench was jubilant and no one was happier than the 35-year-old himself.
Raise your hands if you just took the lead in the third👇 pic.twitter.com/XCd4LO4MRI
— NESN (@NESN) December 2, 2019
Jake DeBrusk, for one, was extremely happy to have his teammate back in the lineup. After the game, he spoke about how Backes’ leadership is “underrated.”
“He’s a very lovable guy. Coming back from injury’s not easy, especially an injury like that,” he told NESN’s Sophia Jurksztowicz on NESN’s postgame coverage. “I know a thing or two about that too. So to see him get back on the ice, just have him be vocal on playing and on the bench is something that we missed and something that’s underrated. Not a lot of people know that unless you’re inside the room and obviously to see him score was, I think my reaction said it best, just really happy for him. He deserves it.”
Backes, who has six goals and 10 assists in 23 games against the Canadiens, essentially shared the same feelings about his teammates.
“It’s an awesome group of guys,” he said on NESN’s postgame coverage. “The best group of guys. What we were able to do last year and get to Game 7 of a final was no fluke because we genuinely care about each other. We’re picking each other up, checking in on each other when we’re injured and not around the rink and it translates onto the ice of what we’re able to do. Quite a few guys have come up to me and I think they’re genuinely happy for my success and that’s not always the case in professional sports.”
And he gave a special shoutout to his wife.
“She deserves credit for this, as well. She’s the rock in our family and I’m able to do what I do because of her.”
Here are some other notes from Sunday’s Bruins-Canadiens game:
— The Bruins are tied for the top spot in the NHL with the Washington Capitals with 43 points. Boston has a game in hand.
— Tuukka Rask made 28 stops in the game, with his only hiccup coming on the second shot of the game.
After Joel Armia’s goal, Rask denied the next 27 shots that came his way. He made a crucial stop on Brendan Gallagher to keep the B’s down 1-0 before Pastrnak scored just three minutes later.
“(I) can’t say enough about Tuukka’s save on Gallagher,” head coach Bruce Cassidy told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley on NESN’s postgame coverage. “It’s a 1-0 game, that’s a difference-maker, too.”
— David Pastrnak extended his league lead in goals to 25 in the third period to get the scoring started for Boston. Capitals star Alex Ovechkin is second with 20.
“He’s a competitive guy, for sure,” Cassidy said on NESN’s postgame coverage. “He loves to score, loves to help the team win, loves to make plays. … He found a loose puck, good play by Anders (Bjork) … from there we got going pretty good.”
— The B’s trailed until about the halfway mark of the third period and Cassidy knew the Habs, losers of eight straight, would come out hot.
“We certainly deserved to win,” he said. “But we know they’d play with a lot of urgency and they’re probably sick of losing over there. They played hard, they checked well. I just think we stuck with it … eventually, it paid off for us.”
— The head coach also had high praise for Connor Clifton.
“He just loves to beat Montreal like the rest of us,” Cassidy said. ” … Cliffy certainly responded physically and pushing pucks. And I think that’s when he’s at this best. We’ve said it before, when he plays a little bit reckless, not to the point of where he’s out of control, that’s when he’s at his best and he certainly brought it tonight.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images