Boston scored three times in a decisive third period and Patrice Bergeron made a spectacular return after a 16-game absence, as the Bruins beat the visiting Nashville Predators 5-2 on Saturday afternoon.
Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak all scored in the third period. Marchand had the go-ahead goal when he finished a clever tic-tac-toe passing play from Bergeron and Pastrnak that gave Boston a 3-2 lead and its second power-play tally of the period.
Bergeron enjoyed a four-point performance with two goals and two assists, Marchand and Pastrnak both had a goal and two assists, and Sean Kuraly posted an empty-net goal. Charlie McAvoy had two assists.
Bergeron, the Bruins’ center on the top line, had not played since Nov. 16 in Dallas because of injuries to his ribs and shoulder.
Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves and recorded an assist, winning his third straight start as Boston won its third in a row overall.
Ryan Johansen and Kyle Turris scored for the Predators, who were winless (0-3-1) on their four-game road trip. Pekka Rinne stopped 27 shots.
In their previous meeting on Nov. 3, Nashville defeated Boston 1-0 behind a 26-save effort from Rinne on the same day he signed a two-year contract extension and celebrated his 36th birthday.
However, Bergeron, whose last goal was Nov. 10 in a 5-1 win over Toronto, electrified the matinee crowd with a skillful offensive play on Rinne in the first period for the game’s opening score. As the Bruins gained time in the attack zone, Bergeron intercepted a shot from McAvoy, showed Rinne his backhand and flipped in a forehand shot at 15:10.
McAvoy’s blast appeared to make it 2-0 at 8:12 during a wild scramble around Rinne in the second period, but Nashville challenged for goaltender interference.
Video replay showed David Backes using his stick to shove Rinne inside the goal, and the marker was disallowed.
Johansen tied it at 1 five minutes later when he collected a quirky cross-ice pass off the half-boards from Craig Smith and one-timed his sixth goal on the short side past Halak, who had allowed only one goal in his previous two games.