Predators' Viktor Arvidsson on Bortuzzo hit: 'You don't need to do that. It was a bad play'
BOSTON — A one-word answer to a three-word question said a lot Saturday morning.
A much longer answer after the Predators' 4-3, overtime victory against the Bruins on Saturday said a lot more.
Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson was changing clothes in his team's dressing room at TD Garden after morning skate when he was asked, simply, "How are you?"
His response: "Good."
That was it.
And it said a lot.
Good for the Predators that Arvidsson returned at the four-week mark of four-to-six weeks, the original timeline after a "dirty hit" from the Blues' Robert Bortuzzo knocked him out of the lineup. Bortuzzo was suspended four games by the league for the hit.
Good for Arvidsson that he's worked through the "lower-body" injury that resulted from a pair of crosschecks from Bortuzzo, including one when Arvidsson still was on the ice near the Blues' goal.
Good for Arvidsson, usually a man of few words, that he also expressed his feelings about the hit.
"It was a dirty play," Arvidsson said. "Shouldn't be that way on a hockey rink. I had my back turned and was in a vulnerable position. You don't need to do that. I'd rather turn around and have a chance to defend myself. That was a bad play."
Arvidsson wasn't done.
"It was (crappy) to go out for four weeks and not play," he said.
The Predators were 6-3-3 in the 12 games Arvidsson missed. But make no mistake, this team needs him as it tries to climb back into the playoff picture.
That journey continued with the conclusion of the team's four-game, potentially season-defining road trip in Boston, where the Predators' overtime victory cemented seven of eight possible points on the trip and pushed them one point out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Roman Josi scored twice, extending his goal streak to a career-best four games.
Arvidsson had six goals and nine assists in the 22 games he had played going into Saturday. Mikael Granlund also returned against the Bruins after missing the last four games.
Hints of Arvidsson's potential return presented themselves in the previous weeks, when he began practicing with the team. That he was on the team's four-game trip to New York, Ottawa and Boston also was encouraging for the Predators.
When he participated in the Predators' morning skate Saturday, coach Peter Laviolette all but confirmed the return of the man who set a franchise record with 34 goals last season.
Arvidsson resumed his usual role on the top line, along with Ryan Johansen and Calle Jarnkrok. He was called for holding less than 30 seconds into his return, earning him two minutes of rest in the penalty box.
He'll likely need some time to get back to speed as the Predators head into a three-day break after Monday's game against the Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena.
"It's been a long time," Arvidsson said. "I went through it last year a little longer. It's hard coming back, and we played the best team in the league, too."
Laviolette couldn't help but be more than happy to have Arvidsson and Granlund back.
"To get him back in the lineup is only going to be a positive," Laviolette said. "Granlund as well. ... Both of those guys are going to be noticeable as we move forward."
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