It didn’t take long for John Moore to further ingratiate himself to his Boston Bruins teammates in his return from injury.
The defenseman made his season debut Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, his first NHL appearance since offseason shoulder injury. While the Bruins ultimately fell short in overtime despite a rousing third-period comeback, Moore was the toast of the Bruins’ dressing room for fighting Chicago forward Zack Smith in the third period after Smith delivered a hit on Boston star David Pastrnak.
Smith’s hit won’t earn him a suspension or anything of the like, but Moore thought it crossed a line and immediately challenged Smith to a fight. Smith obliged and got the better of Moore, who ultimately retreated to the locker room for medical attention. After the game, Moore told reporters he was fine physically and explained his decision to drop the gloves with Smith.
“I don’t know if it was the smartest decision my first game back,” Moore admitted, “but I saw someone kind of take liberty on Pasta and I felt like it was my turn.”
Smith’s hit on Pastrnak is the latest in what’s been a developing trend for the young Bruins forward who has been targeted more in recent games amid his blistering 25-goal start to the season.
“I can’t speak for past games. All I can say is it was my turn there,” Moore said. “I was right there. I saw it and I didn’t like it, so I thought something had to be done so I stepped in and did something.”
After the fight, Pastrnak skated over to Moore and gave him an appreciative tap on the helmet, although he admitted after the game he would have been OK had Moore let it be, especially in his first game back from injury.
“I don’t even know what to say. Hopefully he’s all right,” Pastrnak told reporters. “It’s so good to have him back. He’s such a nice guy to be around and we all love him. Obviously, give him the tap and thank him for coming for me, but obviously I’d rather have him not (fight) at the point he just got back, but I said it’s good to have him back.”
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy also praised Moore’s willingness to defend his teammate.