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Kevin Shattenkirk starting to feel at home with the Bruins

Brad Marchand puts the Bruins on his back
WATCH: The Bs have been up and down, but their captain has scored the last five goals over the last three games. Reporter Conor Ryan forecasts the season ahead.

Kevin Shattenkirk is feeling comfortable, and that’s sure to make Bruins opponents uncomfortable.

After an inconsistent start to the season that saw the veteran blue liner shuffle in and out of the lineup, Shattenkirk has settled into his new digs and roles.

Shattenkirk played in his sixth straight game Saturday and scored a power-play goal in Boston’s 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden.

A puck-lugging defenseman throughout his career, Shattenkirk got away from that early this season. Lately, however, he’s flashed that possession and offensive creativity that were his hallmarks.

“I think he’s skating better, especially offensively, with the puck [and] without the puck,” coach Jim Montgomery said. “[Against Buffalo Thursday], we saw him cut to the net, wheel, attack the middle of the ice, and make a good play. We weren’t seeing that previously. I just think he’s more comfortable in his skin and how we play.”

With Charlie McAvoy out of the lineup with an upper-body injury, Shattenkirk’s leadership, and power-play skills — he manned the blue line on the top unit — were needed.


Chugging over the blue line, Shattenkirk fired a pass to David Pastrnak, who immediately fired back to Shattenkirk, who buried in the vacated side of Connor Ingram’s net.

“I kind of knew he was looking to come back to me. I don’t know if that was supposed to be to [Morgan Geekie] or if it was for me. I think I’m starting to learn that he’s able to make those seam passes. That’s two goals for me now that he’s made unbelievable plays,” said Shattenkirk, who scored his first last week in Toronto. “So, I think, really, we were just playing hockey. Brad [Marchand] ended up at the top. I ended up on the flank and again, it’s talented players just making me look good and just kind of following my instincts on that and knowing that he can make that play.”


Shattenkirk pointed to a chat with Montgomery following a 5-2 loss in Columbus last month as a turning point.

“We just had a very honest conversation about what he wants to see more out of me. And really it was playing more aggressively. It was anticipating plays offensively, getting up the ice where I was maybe holding back, watching the play, and then trying to get involved and then being harder to play against defensively, closing on guys quicker,” he said. “So, all things that maybe in the past few years I’ve just developed bad habits of watching the play and maybe not had as many opportunities to jump and play offense as much. But with the players that we have here and the way that we possess the puck, it’s a great way for me to get acclimated and jump into the system and be effective.”

Zacha’s status unknown

11/2/23, Boston, MA - Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha (18) tries to control the puck against Toronto Maple Leafs defenders during the third period. The Boston Bruins host the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 2, 2023 at TD Garden. - (Tanner Pearson for The Boston Globe)Tanner Pearson for The Boston Globe

Montgomery didn’t have any details on the upper-body injury suffered by Pavel Zacha midway through the first period. He expects to have more information on Monday, when the team reconvenes for practice . . . Montgomery did say defenseman Charlie McAvoy (upper-body injury) has made “significant improvement”, but he did not want to risk him playing Saturday. The Bruins next game is Wednesday against the Devils in New Jersey . . . With Matt Poitras returning to the lineup, Jakub Lauko was the odd-man out against the Coyotes. The fourth-line energy wing has been a bit snake-bitten in the offensive end, with just 3 assists in 18 games . . . It was the 200th game of Geekie’s career . . . The Bruins are now 57-21-7-1 against the Coyotes, including 32-6-4-1 in Boston . . . Song of the day: “Now That We Found Love,” by Heavy D & The Boyz.


Boston Globe Today: Sports | December 8, 2023
WATCH: On Friday's show: What are the chances the Patriots ship Belichick out of Foxborough? Brad Marchand puts the Bruins on his back.

Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him @globejimmcbride.