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Campbell’s Return the Lone Bright Spot in B’s Loss

There wasn’t much for Bruins fans to cheer about at TD Garden on Thursday night. The Black & Gold were thrashed, 8-2, by their new division rivals, the Detroit Red Wings.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins - Game Three

Gregory Campbell laced up the skates for the first time since his injury in June. (Getty Images)

But there was one bright spot that got a rise out of the Garden crowd of 16,839. It came just a couple of minutes into the B’s third preseason game when Gregory Campbell stepped onto the ice for his first shift.

The last time Campbell played in a game was Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 5. That night he suffered a broken right fibula blocking a slap shot from Evgeni Malkin, a moment that made Campbell a hero in Boston and defined the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Just over three months later, Campbell got a rousing ovation as he returned to game action.

“I’m extremely appreciative of the support from the fans,” Campbell said after the game. “I want to play hard for them and for the city, for the organization. They’re a passionate group. They know their hockey.

“It was very nice to hear that [ovation].”

Campbell, who said prior to training camp that he could still feel the screws in his foot when he skated, looked to be moving without limitation. He registered 12:17 of ice time (3:49 shorthanded) and two shots on goal. He also won six of his 11 faceoffs.

“I didn’t feel anything. Obviously the pace of the game when you’re off for that long, it’s going to take some getting used to, a little bit of adapting,” Campbell said. “But as far as myself personally, I felt pretty good.

“I was far from perfect, but I think there’s a foundation there to build on and I didn’t necessarily feel out of place. It’s been a long couple of months. Just very grateful to be back on the ice.”

The center admitted that he didn’t experience much in the form of physicality during the game and wasn’t able to determine if that kind of ramped up play will affect his leg.

“To be honest, I wasn’t in too many battle situations. I guess that’s indicative of my game tonight. I could have battled a little bit harder. But as far as the way I felt, I was comfortable out there, I guess happy with how I felt.”

Bruins head coach Claude Julien was also pleased with the way the fourth-line centermen looked in his return to action.

“He was fine. I think he skated well tonight,” said Julien. “It’s his first game back. Obviously get the cobwebs out of the way. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best outing for our team for him to come back. But he was fine. He felt good. I thought he skated well.”

Now that Campbell is back to playing in games, he’s ready to put last year in the rear view. The injury and the Bruins’ heartbreaking loss to Chicago in the Cup Final are behind him.

“It’s time. It’s time to turn the page. Last season’s over. The injury’s over,” he said. “For me, I have to move on and look to be a player that’s going to help this year’s team. As an athlete, you have to have short-term memory and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’ve tried to answer the questions; I know that there’s some interest, but for me the most important thing is being ready to play this season.

“Things move on. There’s 29 teams other than us that are looking for a Stanley Cup. That’s our goal. That’s my goal moving forward.”

NOTES

Rookie goalie Malcolm Subban played the entire game and allowed all eight goals…Jarome Iginla scored the Bruins’ first goal, his third of the preseason…Nick Johnson had the other tally…Matt Bartkowski assisted on both goals…Torey Krug fought David McIntyre in the second period and won handily. He leveled McIntyre with a huge right jab that knocked him to the ice.

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