McAvoy scores in season debut, Bruins beat skidding Flames
BOSTON (AP) — Charlie McAvoy scored the go-ahead goal in his season debut and the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins remained perfect on home ice, beating the skidding Calgary Flames 3-1 Thursday night.
Linus Ullmark made 31 saves and Connor Clifton also scored as the Bruins improved to 8-0-0 at TD Garden. David Pastrnak added an empty-net goal for Boston, which is 12-2-0 overall.
“Calgary came at us. It’s the most physical game we’ve been in,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “I liked the way we responded to their physicality. I just like the way we keep finding ways to win hockey games.”
Noah Hanifin scored for the Flames, who dropped their seventh straight.
Calgary swarmed the Bruins early, holding them without a shot during the first seven minutes. The Flames scored at the tail end of a power play as Hanifin got his first goal of the season at 4:43 of the opening period.
Clifton followed up his own shot at 16:38 to tie it.
“The rebound was there and I was fortunate,” he said.
McAvoy’s goal came at 18:27 of the second with traffic in front of Calgary goalie Dan Vladar, who finished with 24 saves.
“We did a good job getting possession. It was a good pass by (Pavel Zacha) to find me in the seam. I just wanted to catch and shoot it and it happened to go in,” McAvoy said.
McAvoy, the Bruins’ top defenseman, was expected to be off the ice for six months after undergoing shoulder surgery in June.
“Not having a preseason to get ready, I was definitely nervous all day. But it was a good kind of nervous,” McAvoy said.
The 24-year-old blueliner had 10 goals and 56 points in 78 games last season, including 21 points on the power play.
“What a deserving guy. We’re really lucky to have him back,” Clifton said.
McAvoy played 18:53. He averaged a team-high 25 minutes of ice time last season.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch,” Montgomery said. “A lot more fun to coach him than against him.”
NOTES: Clifton and McAvoy became the 17th and 18th players to score goals for the Bruins this season. … With McAvoy reinstated off long-term injured reserve, the Bruins waived defenseman Mike Reilly with the intention of sending him to Providence of the AHL. … Milan Lucic, who won a Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011, returned with the Flames. The 34-year-old Lucic is in his fourth season with Calgary. … The Flames started the season with five wins in their first six games. They fell to 5-5-2 overall after dropping all three games on their road trip. … Calgary entered ranked fourth in the NHL in shots per game (36.9). The Flames outshot the Bruins 37-22. … Boston is 6-0-0 against Western Conference opponents. … The teams combined to go 0 for 11 on the power play.
Flames: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.
Bruins: At the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
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