A feisty Bruins beginning for Iginla

A feisty Bruins beginning for Iginla
October 4, 2013, 1:00 am
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON - If there was such a thing as a perfect storybook beginning to Jarome Iginla’s time with the Bruins, then Thursday night might have been just that.

It wasn’t the Disney movie version where the 36-year-old Iginla gets the game-winning goal, and does so after promising to do it for a sick child he visited before the game. That kind of thing would have been too much to believe, anyway.

Instead Iginla played a solid 15:28 of ice time with a couple of shots on net and three registered hits while throwing his weight around in Boston’s solid 3-1 victory at TD Garden.

“It was his first game, so I thought he did a good job of doing what he wanted to do for our team. He had a good opportunity late in the third that he could have capitalized on in the slot,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He had scoring chances, he was physical; finished his checks and he obviously fought; so he did what he had to do.

“Some of those guys are showing that they want to be here and they’re willing to do the little things. If we give them time they’ll only get better.”

He did so after hearing a smattering of boos in pregame introductions from those crusty fans still holding a grudge for the Iginla no-trade power play that saw him choose Pittsburgh over Boston at the trade deadline last season.

None of that really mattered to Iginla afterward. Instead, the future Hall of Famer was excited to get things underway in Boston, and start really focusing on the chemistry with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.

“It felt good to play here and at home, have the crowd ... you know, be a Bruin. Guys play hard and some big blocked shots, Thorty [Shawn Thornton] starting it off with a tilt there,” said Iginla. “There were some hits so, there were a lot of different things in the game tonight but it felt good to be part of an intense season opener again and to get things started.

“It’s different, you go through preseason and you want to do things right. But you are also learning, and the intensity isn’t the same," he said. "From when the puck drops for the first game that actually matters, everybody is a little more revved up and excited. That’s just a part of it, and playing with the Bruins and stuff. You do want to get in there on the fore-check and get hit and join in on that and put pressure on their D. I was trying to do that early.”

But what really endeared him to the Black and Gold family was his first fight in a Bruins uniform midway through the second period. Milan Lucic threw a pass through the neutral zone to a hustling Iginla, and Tampa Bay defenseman Radko Gudas lined up the right wing with a hit that knocked him off his skates.

Lucic told reporters he apologized to Iginla during the game for the pass that teed him up for a fall.

It certainly rocked Iginla, but the open ice hit also got No. 12 to waggle his gloves before dropping them to throw haymakers at Gudas. Most of the punches were overhand rights to the back of Gudas' cranium, but eventually the former Calgary Flames captain got the better of the young Tampa defenseman.

Any pregame boos turned into hearty cheers when Iginla skated to the penalty box to serve out his five-minute fighting major after sticking up for himself.

“It wasn’t planned. I wasn’t planning on getting run over either. It was a feisty game, it was a good game. At times each team had some momentum and we found a way to get back and have a great third,” said Iginla. “Tuukk’s [Tuukka Rask] was awesome you know, and our PK being able to kill off two 5-on-3’s with the offense they have was a big part of that game.”

Iginla was deferential to the big contributors in Boston’s opening win, and rightfully so given the game’s circumstances. But the new B’s right winger also showed very clearly that he’s going to be a big part of the Bruins winning ways this season.