BOSTON -- After a successful 2-1 trip to start the season, the Boston Bruins finally get to play a home game on Thursday night.
"We're all excited to get to the home opener and we're happy we got four points out of six," David Pastrnak, who scored four goals in the three games, said as the Bruins prepared to host the New Jersey Devils. "So we're all really excited to get back and see our fans and just can't wait to play in the Garden."
The Devils, who also opened the season on the road, lost two low-scoring games to the Florida teams, one in overtime, before coming home to ride new acquisition Taylor Hall's two goals to a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
New Jersey comes to Boston trying to succeed in a building that has been anything but kind to its club. The Devils have lost nine of their last 10 games at TD Garden.
Corey Schneider, a local product who will again play in front of family and friends, is expected to make his fourth straight start for New Jersey but comes in just 1-3-2 with a 2.81 goals-against average against his former hometown team.
The Bruins trailed in all three games on their opening trip -- 2-0 and 3-1 before winning 6-3 at Columbus, 3-0 before losing at Toronto and 1-0 before coming back to defeat Winnipeg.
And they did it all without team leader Patrice Bergeron, who stayed home because of a lower body injury. He skated with the team Wednesday and is expected to make his season debut Thursday night. Obviously, he makes a difference.
Asked where the Bruins missed Bergeron the most, coach Claude Julien told Bruins.com, "Everywhere. He's a leader. He's the best two-way centerman, I think, in the league. He can score some big goals and he can certainly shut down top players, so we miss him. But at the same time I think this has been a great test for our hockey club to show that we have guys that can come in and help us out."
Tuukka Rask missed the middle game of the trip because of soreness but was outstanding in the win at Winnipeg, where he made 34 saves and became the first Bruins goalie ever with two assists in a game. He is 4-3-2 with a 1.57 goals-against average against the Devils.
With Bergeron out, free agent signee David Backes centered Brad Marchand and Pastrnak, and all three players were a plus-7 in the three games. Rookie defenseman Brandon Carlo, who scored his first NHL goal at Winnipeg, is also a plus-7, and Zdeno Chara is a plus-6.
Hall, acquired from Edmonton for defenseman Adam Larsson in one of the major offseason transactions, scored two power play goals in the Devils' win over the Ducks. He is a prolific offensive player -- a welcome addition to a team that again missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season last year because of a lack of offense.
"It's fun to not only get the first win, but to get our power play going," Hall said Tuesday. "The energy in the rink was great. Everyone was in red and every chance they got, they were on their feet.
"As a player, sometimes you don't feel 100 percent and sometimes it's not clicking out there, and the crowd can get you into it; sometimes you rely on that at home."
The Bruins opened last season with three straight home games -- and lost all three, one of the factors in Boston failing to make the playoffs for a second straight season.