BOSTON -- It wasn’t successful in the sense that it resulted in a Bruins victory, but Loui Eriksson's healthy return to the ice was a personal win after he had missed the previous five games with a concussion.
The 27-year-old Eriksson finished with four generated shot attempts in 20:17 of ice time and played his typically steady game in all three zones while skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars at TD Garden.
The best news of all: Eriksson felt perfectly healthy after being out since Oct. 23.
“Felt good puck-wise . . . the head felt alright, and I got some hits out there from them,” said Eriksson. “It felt good, so that’s positive. I thought we played really good the first 10 minutes, the whole team, and after that we were putting ourselves in trouble.
“[We were] doing several poor plays out there and it’s something we’ve been talking about. We have to be better as a group, work harder and play smarter, and we didn’t do that.”
Bergeron was playing at maximum efficiency throughout the game, and he teamed with Eriksson to get Marchand some of his best chances of the season in the first period. But Marchand couldn’t pull the trigger with the puck around the net, and that leaves their line with half as many goals produced this season (6) as the No. 1 trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla.
“It felt a little better together out there,” said Marchand. “We had a few really good opportunities that I wish we could have back, but then I think it’s going in the right direction.
“We definitely have to bear down on our opportunities. Especially when we’re struggling a little bit we have to make sure we bear down even more. Hopefully in the next little bit we can work on that, and put a few more pucks in the net.”
That’s something Marchand’s coach would like to see as well after watching Marchand and David Krejci miss on golden scoring chances on successive trips into the offensive zone in the second period.
“There were some great chances. You look at David Krejci in the second period, he’s all alone, all he has to do is lift the puck up and we have ourselves another goal,” Claude Julien said. “When times are tough, times are tough. You don’t play well and then when you do get something going your way, it doesn’t go in.
“A little bit of confidence and a little bit of swagger is what we need right now. But we have to work our way out of this thing.”
The Bruins have to hope that Eriksson’s return will bring along some of that confidence now that -- for the first time -- the team has the forward group that it envisioned coming out of the preseason.
A quick look at Boston’s pedestrian offensive numbers through the season’s first month go to show just how much injuries and resulting line alterations have affected the team's output. But now that they’re all healthy, it's time for Eriksson and the rest of the Black and Gold tribe to get things going.