WILMINGTON, Mass. – A spirited practice was over. Most of the Boston Bruins players were back in the locker room.

But not Marc Savard.

With his return from a 24-game absence just days away — in the opener of a second-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers — Boston’s best playmaker kept working on the ice with a few teammates Wednesday.

“It felt like the Boston Marathon,” said Savard, sidelined more than seven weeks following a Grade 2 concussion. “They made it pretty tough today but I got through it.

“I gave everything I had. So it was a good test.”

The Bruins will have home-ice advantage against Philadelphia in a series that starts Saturday.

Savard said he wants to play his first few shifts — make contact, not avoid it.

“I’m not a guy that hits a lot but (I’ll) try and get a couple of bumps in early and test myself that way so I’m tested and I feel involved,” he said.

Savard isn’t backing off after dealing with three injuries that caused him to miss half the regular season — 15 games with a broken left foot, eight with a partially torn ligament in his right knee and 18 games (plus six in the playoffs) with the concussion.

But he’s been cleared by doctors to play, even if his ice time might be less than usual.

“His conditioning is as good as it can be at this time,” Coach Claude Julien said. “When you’ve been out for two months, it’s important for you to come in and be given a fair chance to help your hockey club, and that’s what we’re going to try to do with him.”

The sixth-seeded Bruins advanced Monday with a 4-3 win over third-seeded Buffalo in Game 6. Savard resumed skating the previous Monday. Even without him, the power play was solid.

“A lot of it is confidence. You can see our guys right now are moving the puck and making the right decisions,” Julien said. “We’re not overpassing.”

Savard is Boston’s best passer and figures to be on the power play. He led the Bruins in assists and points each of the past three seasons, but had just 10 goals and 23 assists in 41 games this season. Last year he had six goals and seven assists in 11 postseason games.


CANADIENS 2, CAPITALS 1: Led by Jaroslav Halak’s spectacular, acrobatic goaltending, visiting Montreal slowed Alex Ovechkin and the rest of Washington’s high-powered offense to complete an unlikely comeback and eliminate the NHL’s best regular-season team in the first round.

Halak, a former Lewiston Maineiac, made 41 saves, Marc-Andre Bergeron scored during a four-on-three in the last 30 seconds of the opening period, and eighth-seeded Montreal held on.

The Canadiens are the ninth No. 8 team to knock off a No. 1 in 32 matchups since the NHL went to its current playoff format in 1994, and the first to come back from a 3-1 series deficit.


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