Jake DeBrusk had a goal and assist in his first NHL game, Charlie McAvoy added a goal and assist in his first regular-season appearance and the Boston Bruins beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 Thursday night in the season opener for both teams. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand also scored, and David Krejci finished with three assists. Anders Bjork added an assist in his first NHL start. Nashville tied the game 1-1 with a late goal in the first period by Viktor Arvidsson and got late goals in the third by Scott Hartnell and Filip Forsberg. But the defending Western Conference champions were outshot 32-29 on the night. Tuukka Rask had 26 saves for Boston. Pekka Rinne stopped 28 shots for the Predators. Boston played without center Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and forward David Backes (illness). DeBrusk and Bjork started in their absences.
The Predators face the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Stanley Cup finals rematch on Saturday night.
The Boston Bruins went into the offseason focused on beefing up their roster with young players the front office hopes will one become the core of the franchise.
They made their biggest investment in youth just before training camp by signing Pastrnak, a restricted free agent, to a six-year, $40 million contract.
That faith was on display Thursday with the scorer of each Bruins goal getting younger throughout the night. Pastrnak, who is 21 years old, scored the first. He was followed by DeBrusk (20) and McAvoy (19). It started in the first period, less than a minute after Roman Josi (cross-check) and Matt Irwin (slashing) were sent to the penalty box for minor penalties. Pastrnak got open in front of the blue line and slipped a slap shot past Rinne to put Boston up 1-0. McAvoy and Krejci assisted on the goal. For McAvoy, it marked his first NHL regular-season point. He appeared in six playoff games (three points) last season, but Thursday marked his first career regular-season game. The Predators were sluggish throughout the night on offense and didn't take their first shot on goal until the 7:35 mark of the first period. They were outshot 12-8 in the period and were 0 for 2 on their power play chances. But Arvidsson was in the right place at the right time late in the period, flipping in a deflection off a face-off by Rask to tie it up. Boston announced during the game that Backes had been diagnosed with diverticulitis. The team said he will be re-evaluated in two weeks, but is expected to be out for at least 3-4 weeks.
The news comes at a bad time for the 33-year-old, who signed a five-year $30 million contract as an unrestricted free agent last season and was expected to anchor Boston's third line. Backes battled injuries and off-ice distractions last season, contributing to a disappointing year that saw post just 38 points in 74 games. Notes: F Noel Acciari left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury. ... Bjork is the first Bruins player in 10 years to wear the No. 10. The last was Brandon Bochenski in 2007-2008. ... Boston's Adam McQuaid and Nashville's Cody McLeod had the first fight of the season at the 9:04 mark of the first period. McLeod led the NHL with 19 fighting majors. ... The Predators are 6-2-1 in their past nine openers.