WINNIPEG As debuts go it was both inauspicious but solid all at the same time. Thats exactly what the Bruins expected from 38-year-old Jay Pandolfo when they signed him last week to a one-year contract as forward depth in this atypical 48-game regular season, and thats exactly what they got.
Pandolfo skated on the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton and finished with 10 shifts for 6:48 of ice time in Bostons 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre. The veteran winger even doled out three registered hits in true Black and Gold fashion, and registered time on the penalty kill in the third period with the game on the line.
It was exactly what Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli pictured when signing him: a battle-tested veteran player that can jump right in if injuries or circumstances create the need for an extra forward. Milan Lucic had to go back to Boston for personal reasons on Saturday, and the Burlington native was ready to make his Bruins debut on Sunday.
It wasnt bad after not playing for a while. Im sure itll get better as I keep playing, said Pandolfo. Ive been doing the penalty kill stuff in practice, so I figured if one of the regular guys was in the box then Id get some time.
Claude Julien said that Pandolfo has been in every meeting and gone through every drill with the Bs penalty kill unit since the beginning of the season, so there was no hesitation putting him into the special teams mix with the game on the line. Once Rich Peverley was whistled for the third period penalty, it was go time for Pandolfo.
Hes been in every penalty kill meeting weve had all year," Julien said. "Whenever weve been at home hes been there listening, so he knew what to do. Hes a great penalty killer and weve got some guys that do a really good job.
I didnt want to give him too much in his first game if I didnt have to. But the plan was if one of our regular killers was in the box that hed get the call, and thats the way it worked out.
Pandolfo said the nerves werent too high prior to the game against Winnipeg, but he expects it will be a different story when hes playing in front of friends and family at TD Garden. That can bring the butterflies even for a 38-year-old who has seen and done just about everything in his long NHL career.