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Despite boos, Tyler Seguin gets last laugh in return to Boston

Tyler Seguin said he didn’t know what to expect coming into Tuesday night’s return to Boston, and it certainly played out that way for the 21-year-old in ways both good and bad. The bad: Seguin’s name getting announced in the Dallas starting lineup set off a loud alarm of boos among Bruins fans before the game even started, and a chorus of steady boos and sing-song “Say-Gun” chants cascaded through the Garden during the game. The mocking chants kicked up in the third period once the Bruins had a 2-1 lead, and perhaps it was a bit karmic the Stars ended up winning the shootout by a 3-2 final score at TD Garden.

For the Bruins it represented the fourth loss in five games and another bitter defeat as the team searches for its bearings. For Seguin it was something closer to relief that perhaps now he can relax and move on after gaining some closure with the city of Boston, and the legions of Bruins fans.

“[I’m] glad it’s over. I didn’t know what to expect,” said Seguin. “It was just weird. It was weird being out there, especially the first period. I heard [the boos] a couple times. I heard some cheers and some boos. It was a good hockey game and a great win. I have to say it’s a special game. I knew where this was on the calendar. I knew my first time in Boston.

“I have seen a lot of players come back here – you know popular athletes, which I was in this city. I’m sure that there are mixed feelings out there. I can only go out there and play hockey.”

Aside from boos and sideshow stories about Seguin, he was also pretty ordinary through the most of the night as he was so many times for Boston last season. He worked diligently enough to take 6-of-9 face-offs and keep things in check defensively against Boston’s forward groups.

Other than that, it was pretty much all good for both Seguin and fellow Bruins refugee Rich Peverley in the start of reunion week against Boston. They both beat Tuukka Rask in the shootout to secure the two points for the Stars, and Seguin left with a wide smile while answering many of the questions that swirled around his surprise trade to Dallas back in July.

As Bob Lobel would say, why don’t we get players like that? Goals from Milan Lucic and Torey Krug on the Boston side and Jamie Benn and Vern Fiddler on the Dallas side kept things on an even keel through regulation and overtime, and set up a Seguin specialty in the shootout session. With the Stars needing a score after Patrice Bergeron had put one up on the board, Seguin snapped off a quick wrist shot from the slot to the blocker-side that Rask never even reacted to one way or the other.

A couple shooters later Peverley beat Rask as well, and the game was over in favor of the visiting Stars courtesy of the ex-Bruins traded to Dallas back on the July 4 deal that will be debated for years in Boston.

“I think I was more nervous for this game than I was for any of the Stanley Cup Finals games. It was emotional for me, but it was fun to be here,” said Peverley. “I think we’ve been in a couple [shootouts], but I hadn’t been used.

“I’ve been a decent shootout guy in the past, so it was nice to get another opportunity. We’ve got some pretty good guys on our side too. Tyler [Seguin] is obviously one of the best in the league. So, to get a chance after was good.”

One thing is clear, though, despite Seguin leaving Boston on a high note in his first trip back to TD Garden.

No matter what twist of hockey fate might away the 21-year-old in his long, winding NHL career, he won’t ever return to Boston in any capacity aside from a visiting player looking for another win. Playing in a quiet, hockey environment in Dallas probably agrees with the 2010 No. 2 overall pick, and affords him the potential to develop into a franchise center while paying less attention to the off-the-field issues.

“I have been asked that question a few times today. If I got a contract or a trade to come back here or was asked, I don’t think I would come back. I think in the end you want to play where you are wanted,” said Seguin. “I have great relationships with our coach and the GM here, and I know how much they want me. It feels good to play here. I guess that is all I want to say on that.”

That’s all there is to it. Sure Seguin had some enjoyable moments lining up against his former Bruins teammates, and he admitted doing a little dance with Tuukka Rask during one of the pushing, shoving scrums behind the Boston net. But there are enough cold, hard feelings with the reports zeroed in on Seguin’s behavior during the playoffs, and that made it easy to say playing in Boston would never be an option.

The TD Garden boos might have been a bit of a surprise for Seguin upon returning to Boston, but the message couldn’t have been any more crystal clear: the Bruins fans don’t tend to favor soft hockey very kindly, and they definitely can’t forgive one goal in 22 playoff games from me.

The sight of Seguin and Peverley celebrating on the Garden ice brought back the pang of recent memories, and the lament that either player could have done more to help Boston win the Cup last spring.

- Joe Haggerty, CSN New England

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