BOSTON -- Ryan Spooner admitted surprise when he got the call Thursday morning at 7 to pack his bags and make the hour trek up to TD Garden from Providence.
"I was preparing to go to practice," Spooner said. "I just happen to wake up, and I got the good news."
Bruins head coach Claude Julien said before Thursday's 3-2 shootout win over Anaheim he was looking for a burst of offense with his decision to call up center Spooner from the team's AHL affiliate in Providence. And the baby-faced 21-year-old -- in his first appearance with the big club this season, and fifth career game -- sure made his presence felt.
Spooner displayed his speed and his offensive creativity on the breakout feed he made in the second period to knot the game at 1-1.
After Zdeno Chara won a puck away from Anaheim's Emerson Etem and Peter Holland behind his own net, Spooner carried it up the left circle, then skipped a deep cross-ice pass to Chris Kelly up the right flank at the opposite blue line. Kelly charged hard to catch up with it, then tapped it gently with his backhand onto the blade of Carl Soderberg. With just the goalie to beat, the lefty Soderberg went forehand to backhand and tucked it behind Jonas Hiller's pads as he fell into his own net.
"They were playing a bit of a trap, they were closing off the middle of the ice," Spooner explained. "When I got the puck, I didn't really have much, I was trying to get it out. I guess I got kinda lucky with that play."
With the timetable on Loui Eriksson (concussion) unknown, Spooner came in to replace Jordan Caron on the third line, centering Kelly and Soderberg, and made his impact felt. In addition to his first career NHL point in his 12 minutes, 22 seconds of ice time, he registered two shots and a hit, and was 1-of-3 on faceoffs. He also took the first shot in the overtime shootout, getting denied trying to lift the puck over Hiller's pad. "I think he got more and more comfortable, and you know I've said this playing with all new guys, communication is huge and just talking makes things easier," Kelly said of Spooner. "And I thought he played well in all three zones."
Said Julien, "I'm not sure that Kells is as best utilized on the wing as he is at center, but the one thing I thought is Spoons did give us some speed on that line and created some of that stuff -- and for the first time together, I think they were OK. "
It wasn't the prettiest beginning, as the third line got off to a careless start, surrendering the first goal just 1:52 into the game when Soderberg tried to thread the needle with a cross-sheet pass off the boards. Dustin Penner was there to intercept and keep the puck in the offensive zone, gathering and passing it off to Mathieu Perreault in the right circle. Perrault skipped it back to Devante Smith-Pelly driving the slot, and the right winger beat Tuukka Rask glove side for the 1-0 advantage.
It was a slow start overall for Soderberg, who didn't seem to have his feet under him and sometimes led his linemates too far in front with his passes up the ice. But the end product Thursday, and his first career NHL goal, will suffice.