Bartkowski registers first career NHL point

Bartkowski registers first career NHL point
April 1, 2013, 1:30 am
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BUFFALO -- After the first weekend of NHL games since the trade heard round the world fell through, it’s Matt Bartkowski 1, Jarome Iginla 0.

What’s that they say about it always being the deals that you don’t make?

The rookie Bruins defenseman finally registered his first career NHL point in his 12th game with Boston, and assisted on David Krejci’s game winning strike in the third period that helped propel the Bruins to a 2-0 win over the hapless Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center.

It was a solid play by the 6-foot, 196-pound Bartkowski inside the blue line to keep possession in the offensive zone, and helped set up Nathan Horton’s backhander that set the scoring play into motion. Horton got one more crack at a fore-hand shot that Ryan Miller once again stuffed, but the third effort was the charm as Krejci pushed a rebound shot around the sprawling Buffalo goaltender.

"It's kind of a monkey off my back, I guess. It always feels good to win and it feels even better when you can contribute in that way,” said Bartkowski. “There’s nothing wrong with the ‘D’ leading the shot as long as we’ve got traffic in front and we’re jumping on the rebounds.”

The 24-year-old Bartkowski finished with a couple of shots on net and the assist along with a plus-1 – and a bogus cross-checking penalty in the first period that looked more like a harmless collision – in 11:05 of ice time. It wasn’t surprising to see Bartkowski back in the lineup for the Bruins on Sunday night after sitting out the last two games as a healthy scratch: one was because of the impending Iginla deal and Saturday he sat again in favor of the struggling Aaron Johnson.

The veteran spare defenseman had a host of turnovers in little more than nine minutes of ice time in Saturday’s loss to the Flyers, so Claude Julien opted to go with the rookie option as Bartkowski continues gathering experience and confidence.

“He’s definitely more assertive and more confident this year than he’s been in past years when he’s been with us,” said Julien. “He skates the puck up the ice when he has to and he’s really developed into a good defenseman. It gives us that versatility and we wanted to have a good look at him. He’s a good player. We wanted to make sure we gave him a chance to play, and not just to watch.”

There’s still no guarantee Bartkowski won’t be dealt before the April 3 deadline as one of the central pieces in a deal that will net the Bruins some needed reinforcements for this year’s playoff run. But the first career point on Boston’s game-winning play was another reminder that Bartkowski is just scratching the surface of how good he might be as an everyday defenseman in the NHL.