Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins notes: Night of firsts for Moore, Backes in Bruins win over Habs

Matt Kalman
November 24, 2018 - 10:58 pm

It never made much sense that a defenseman that can skate and move the puck like John Moore was hardly contributing to the Bruins’ offense.

Through his first 19 games this season, Moore had just two assists to show for his efforts in 20:06 of average ice time a night.

Well there’s no way to know if Moore’s game-winning goal in a 3-2 win at Montreal on Saturday will be the start of an offensive eruption from the 28-year-old. But it definitely was a reward for Moore’s yeoman’s effort at the defensive end, blocking four shots in a team-high 25:41.

Moore was also on the ice for 5:26 of Montreal’s 6:50 of power play time, and he wasn’t on the ice when Tomas Tatar’s man-advantage goal tied the score 2-2 in the third period. In just his second game back from a lower-body injury, Moore helped alleviate some of the pressure off a Bruins defense corps that’s still down Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy and Urho Vaakanainen.

Although the Bruins would be satisfied with Moore continuing to be a defensive stalwart, even if he did nothing else, he does have offensive expectations. He’s just been added to the Bruins’ second power-play unit, and in its current injury-depleted state, the Bruins’ defense group doesn’t feature a lot of offensive juice beyond Torey Krug.

Earlier this month he admitted to that he was extra locked in at the defensive end while trying to fit in with a team that signed him to a five-year contract worth $2.75 million per season July 1.

“When you’re coming into a new team you want to find your niche, and that’s kind of been my direction so far,” Moore said. “And I want to be the best that I can at that, but at the same time I think I want to start being accountable offensively and helping the team that way too.”

Moore’s offensive accountability got him on the scoresheet for the first time and earned the Bruins a huge two points, as they extended their point streak to 3-0-2 and improved to 3-0-1 since losing Chara and Patrice Bergeron to injuries.

*In the end, David Backes decided not to steal from Toronto’s Auston Matthews. After his would-be goal against Pittsburgh on Friday was disallowed, Backes said he planned to copy Matthews’ pointing celebration when he finally scored his first goal.

After he beat Carey Price to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with his first goal in 18 games this season, Backes raised his stick as he turned to the boards and then dropped to one knee to give a quick fist pump before his teammates mobbed him.

It wouldn’t be a night in the spotlight for Backes, of course, without some sort of injury-related experience. Backes, though, seemed to be OK after he took a high stick from Jonathan Drouin in the third period. The penalty led to Moore’s goal and Backes played one more shift before the game was through.

*Tatar’s power-play goal came in the aftermath of a David Pastrnak penalty that nearly took the prize for most-foolish penalty of the night before Drouin’s stick caught Backes in the head miles from where the puck was being played. Pastrnak retaliated with a slash to Andrew Shaw in response to a hit he felt was too late. Can’t blame Pastrnak for his fury, but by now he should know how to contain his temper at crucial points of the game, especially knowing Shaw’s ability to sell a penalty. Sure enough Shaw added a little extra leap to his fall and the Canadiens got a power play.

After the game coach Bruce Cassidy told NESN that the coaching staff would address that play with Pastrnak.

*Jake DeBrusk’s goal off a give-and-go with Torey Krug during a 4-on-4 was impressive and ran the wing’s goal total for the season to 10. But the best sign of DeBrusk’s growth as an all-around player was Cassidy’s decision to have DeBrusk on the ice during the Canadiens’ game-closing 6-on-5 attempt to tie the score in the final couple minutes with their goaltender pulled. DeBrusk made one huge clear and didn’t look out place during that important stretch of the game.

*Tuukka Rask may have muffed the puck a little bit on Drouin’s third-period goal that got the Canadiens on the board, but the goaltender had no chance to stop Tatar’s one-timer. Rask finished with 31 saves and his save percentage is now right around league average at .913, an impressive feat considering how his season started.

Related: Eventful night for Bruins' 4th line featured busted nose, disallowed goal