Gagne makes Bruins debut in 800th game

DETROIT -- Simon Gagne hadn't played in a NHL game since April 27, 2013, and when he made his debut for the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena, the 34-year-old forward played well.

Gagne logged 12:13 of ice time in his 800th career NHL regular-season game. He started on the Bruins' fourth line with Ryan Spooner and Daniel Paille, but Bruins coach Claude Julien was impressed enough with Gagne's play to give him some shifts late in the game on the team's top line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci.

"I thought he played well," Julien said. "I really thought for his first game back, he handled himself really well."

Gagne missed the entire 2013-2014 season due to injuries, and also for the fact he didn't receive any serious offers from organizations for his services. This summer, he spoke with Julien, Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron and general manager Peter Chiarelli before the team invited him to training camp as a non-roster player.

In need of a veteran presence in the lineup, the Bruins signed Gagne on Tuesday to a one-year, one-way contract worth $600,000. After helping Boston to a 3-2 shootout win, Gagne was pleased with his performance.

"Not bad, actually," he said. "The more the game went on, the more I felt better, especially in the third and overtime I felt pretty good. I'm not going to lie, the first couple of shifts my legs were burning. After the first I started feeling my legs coming back, so it was a good first one for myself."

Gagne has a knack for scoring big-time goals, and he almost pumped one in during the closing seconds of regulation against the Red Wings. With the game knotted at 2-2, Gagne had a chance to win it, but Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard made a spectacular glove save on a backhand attempt from the slot. Gagne had another scoring chance in overtime, but again, Howard made the save.

"It was almost too nice to be true," Gagne said. "The last minute of the game, [Milan Lucic] brought the puck to the net and Dougie Hamilton] took a pretty good shot. Howard was pretty much down on the ice, and I had an open net. I took my time to put it up there, and he brought his glove at the last second. I thought about it for a second that it could've been a game winner, but I'll keep it for another day. We got the win and that's important to get back on the right track."

Julien was asked if he saw enough from Gagne to keep him on the top line.

"Maybe," Julien said.

Either way, Gagne said he'll accept any role he's given.

"I'll be ready if Claude wants me to play with those guys or on the fourth line. I'll do whatever it takes," Gagne said. "I felt pretty good with both lines. I'll do my best when those things happen."