AP NEWS

Bruins notes: David Backes shows some early fight

February 27, 2017 GMT

DALLAS — The 11:30 a.m. local start time had lots of players looking to shake off some cobwebs, so the Dallas Stars’ Jamie Benn decided to get the blood flowing. Off the opening faceoff, Benn challenged David Backes to a fight and Backes happily obliged.

“Two competitive guys that wanted to start the day game off with a little energy,” said Backes. “He’s one of the best players in the world, so if I can get him in the box or have him thinking about fighting, we’re probably better off for it. So you accept the invitation and get the heart going in a hurry on this one.”

What was in Benn’s mind is not known — he didn’t speak to reporters after the 6-3 Bruins win — but there could have been some old bad blood. Backes’ St. Louis Blues did eliminate Benn’s Stars in the second round of last year’s Western Conference playoffs.

“Good on him. He’s a big boy and a guy that carried his team to the second round last year when we played him. There’s obviously a little history there,” said Backes. “But again, two competitive guys starting the game off. And it certainly worked. There was a lot more energy all around for both teams after that.”

While Benn had the slight edge in the fight that was mostly a wrestling match, the outcome worked out well for the B’s. With Benn and the Backes in the box, B’s coach Bruce Cassidy reunited David Pastrnak with the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron line and Pastrnak had a hard-working assist on Marchand’s first goal of the game that set the tone.

Cassidy kept the trio together for the rest of the period and moved Backes with David Krejci and Peter Cehlarik, but he decided to put Backes back with the top combo to start the second period.

“It was just a gut feeling. Pasta went up and they scored on a nice goal,” said Cassidy. “You’re playing Dallas and there will be times when there’s chances traded and I think Pasta’s line with Bergy and March can be real dangerous. Once we got the lead, we balanced it out a little more. They’ve both played with both centermen — Pasta and Backs — so I didn’t think it was going to be a big adjustment either way.”

Save and a beauty

Tuukka Rask turned in a highlight-reel save in the second period when he stared down puck carrier Tyler Seguin (goal, assist) and then had to dive to the left to make a great stop on Patrick Sharp after Seguin fed the wide-open winger.

“Segs had a lot of time there and I was trying to stay square to him because he can score some goals, too, right? And then he had more time than anyone thought I guess and he made the pass. I saw the puck the whole time, so I guess that helped me make the save,” said Rask. …

Former Bruin Rich Peverley, now the player development coordinator for the Stars, was on hand before the game to help raise funds for Pevs Protects, the charity that he and his wife Nathalie started after Peverley’s career — and nearly his life — was cut short when he suffered a cardiac arrest on the Dallas bench in March 2014. The charity collects funds to purchase defibrillators, like the one that saved his life, and for cardiac education.

“We’ve had numerous cities reach and ask to do these events and we’ll see where it goes,” said Peverley, who has been to schools and junior rinks in his native Canada.

Lineup shuffle

Cassidy continued to shift his lineup. On the back end, Colin Miller was scratched and John-Michael Liles suited up, while forward Matt Beleskey was scratched and Riley Nash was in. Liles had been a scratch for 10 of the previous 11 games.

On the defense change, Cassidy said: “Colin’s been a good player for us, but Johnny went in for Zdeno Chara (when Chara was ill a couple of weeks ago) and gave us some real good minutes, so it’s a matter of keeping him involved and moving Kevan Miller over to his right side which I think will benefit his game as well.”

Liles played 16:21 with one shot on net.

As for the forward switch?

“We’ve kind of rotated two or three players in to see what the best fit it is and I think Riley Nash is a good fit with (Dominic) Moore and (Tim) Schaller on the fourth line and is good on the penalty kill,” said Cassidy.