Defenseman Mason Lohrei made his NHL debut for the Bruins on Thursday and had an assist in a 3-2 win over Toronto. Steven Senne/Associated Press

BOSTON — The Bruins didn’t have the luxury of letting Mason Lohrei tiptoe in the NHL’s deep end. Boston had a full-on defenseman crisis so they threw the rookie defenseman headfirst into the water and the result was a debut that went swimmingly.

With Matt Grzelcyk on long-term injured reserve, Charlie McAvoy suspended and Derek Forbort day-to-day, the Bruins called up three defensemen from Providence, Ian Mitchell and Parker Wotherspoon and Lohrei. While the other two had been in the NHL briefly before, it was Lohrei that Coach Jim Montgomery trusted with immediate top-four responsibility in the Bruins’ 3-2 shootout win over Toronto on Thursday.

“He played really well. His poise with the puck in all three zones was very noticeable,” Montgomery said. “He made a lot of intelligent hockey plays.”

Montgomery put him in the starting lineup with a message.

“Enjoy the moment. You belong in the league,” he said. “Go show everybody why.”

Lohrei said any nervousness disappeared fast.


“Once the puck drops it goes away pretty quick,” said Lohrei, whose parents, two sisters and several friends made the trip. “I felt good. Good first one. I tried to keep it simple and obviously, I had some good partners to work with.”

Lohrei paired with Brandon Carlo early and Kevin Shattenkirk late and played 21 minutes, 28 seconds including 1:43 killing penalties. The first NHL player ever born in Louisianna even played in the three-on-three overtime.

“It’s just rhythm. It’s good for your mind when you know you’re going to keep going back out there,” he said. “You’re playing free, no weight on your shoulders. Just trying to do your best every shift.”

Lohrei got his first career assist late in the first period when he fed Carlo, who set up Pavel Zacha.

Brad Marchand said Lohrei picked up where he left off in the preseason.

“You could see in training camp that he was gifted. Big kid, skates well, really smart with the puck,” Marchand said. “What I liked about his game tonight was that he didn’t try to do too much. … He made strong plays and competed hard and took what was in front of him.”


Lohrei could get a long chance to prove himself as Grzelcyk can’t return until after Thanksgiving.

He said he didn’t get a puck or any other memento from his debut.

“I don’t need to,” he said. “I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”

BLACKHAWKS: Taylor Hall is almost back. And he’s feeling much better this time.

Hall practiced with the Chicago Blackhawks and could return to the lineup this weekend. The forward is on injured reserve with a left shoulder injury.

Chicago hosts Florida on Saturday and New Jersey on Sunday.


“I felt good today. I just have to talk to the medical staff and see what we want to do,” Hall said. “There’s a good chance that I’m in tomorrow, but I could also not play. I just got to see how they’re feeling and give them my thoughts on how I felt today.”

Defenseman Alex Vlasic also skated on Friday. He was placed in the concussion protocol after absorbing a big hit during a 4-3 overtime win at Vegas last week.

“He’s probably going to have to take one more step tomorrow and be a possibility on Sunday,” Coach Luke Richardson said of Vlasic.

Hall, the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, has no goals and two assists in five games with Chicago. He was acquired in a June trade with Boston.

Hall, who turns 32 this month, originally hurt his shoulder in a 3-1 loss at the Bruins on Oct. 11. After Richardson said he was week to week, Hall missed one game before returning to the lineup.

He was placed on IR on Oct. 24.



FLYERS 5, SABRES 1:  Bobby Brink had a goal and an assist as Philadelphia won in Buffalo, New York to snap a three-game losing streak.

Scott Laughton, Louie Belpedio, Travis Konecny, and Garnet Hathaway also scored, and Joel Farabee had two assists for the Flyers.

Samuel Ersson made 22 saves in place of Carter Hart, who was injured against Buffalo on Wednesday and is day to day with a mid-body injury.

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