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David Backes shows off character with game-winning goal against Flames

03.16.17 at 12:42 am ET
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David Backes returned from an ugly-looking injury and scored the game-winning goal on Wednesday. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

David Backes returned from an ugly-looking injury and scored the game-winning goal on Wednesday. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Sports fans love to see their team’s best players get injured and then return from said injury all within the same game.

It probably seems bizarre to the casual observer, and I’ll be honest and admit to them that I can’t explain it. It’s just a thing and will always will be a thing. Some players have built an entire reputation on their ability to endure the bumps and bruises of a season and actually use them to their advantage in the late stages of a year with sheer willpower.

David Backes is without a doubt one of those players.

The 6-foot-3 Backes has the scars and NHL track record to prove it, too, which is one of the reasons why the Black and Gold chose to invest $30 million in a player on the wrong side of 30 (Backes turns 33 later this year) last summer. An ironman willing to battle through anything — deficits, hits, and sometimes people — Backes showed off that part of his lauded character in Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over the Flames, a win that snapped Calgary’s 10-game winning streak and one that featured more than a couple of battles for Backes.

In pursuit of a loose puck tumbling towards the corner in the first period, Backes appeared to catch an edge and tumbled face-first into the boards. Was it his head? Backes has already missed time this season because of a concussion. Was it an arm, which appeared to get crunched into the boards, too? Or was it his lower body? Into the unknown of a player whose body language refused to give you much of a hint as to what was bothering him, Backes looked unable to put much of any weight on his leg and made his way down the tunnel and back to the B’s room with the help of fellow leaders Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara.

“It’s maybe scary at the time,” Backes admitted of his first period incident and brief departure to the locker room. “But get back with the training staff and they rub it, kiss it, and make you feel better and able to return to the game.”

Last seen with just under eight minutes left in the first period, it was when the clock read 12:46 left in the second period that Backes returned on the ice for his next shift. He came out with a bang, too, and instantly jumped back into the mix with a hard forechecking effort. It was on his second shift that he found the result that made the return from an injury even better, as he capitalized on a three-on-two effort with an up-high snipe on the Flames’ Chad Johnson for his 15th goal of the season.

 

And from his off side no less.

The goal was the Black and Gold’s necessary response after Dougie Hamilton tied things back up with a red line goal scored just 1:10 after Brad Marchand put the Bruins on top by a goal. When the Flames had their chance to blow this game open against Anton Khudobin, who was shaky at best through 40 minutes of play, it was the veteran Backes that shut that idea down.

The goal helped, of course, but it was the return of Backes’ presence alone that made a difference for the Bruins.

“Just to see a guy like that come out and be a warrior, obviously it’s not easy to come back when you’re hurting like he did, but he came out and really lifted up the team,” Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo said of Backes’ second period comeback. “As soon as he came back out on the ice, everybody was happy, excited, and pretty much brought a new energy.”

With a goal and three shots in 11:44 of time on ice, Backes has continued to turn it on for the Black and Gold of late, and has extended his recent run to four goals and 12 points in his last 15 games played. And though Wednesday’s game-winning goal will earn Backes points with a city that lives for this kind of stuff and from his teammates, it’s just another day at work for No. 42.

“The way guys are battling and playing for each other, I wanted to make sure that if there was a chance I could back out there and try to help our team win another game,” said Backes.

Backes and the Bruins return to action Thursday night against the Oilers.

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