As far as return engagements that pull at the heartstrings, Jarome Iginla’s trip to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins tomorrow night won’t really compare to the homecoming he’ll receive on Dec. 10 in Calgary, where he played the first 151⁄2 seasons of his NHL career.

But the fact of the matter is only five months ago, the Bruins right winger was wearing a different black and gold uniform in the Eastern Conference finals.

Iginla and the Penguins were beaten by the Bruins in a rather shocking sweep. And Iginla served as one of the best story lines of the series after he essentially rejected a trade to Boston in favor of going to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline. He said the loss was tough, but not because he picked the wrong team.

“It was hard to do the handshake, I’ll tell you that. When you’re that close to a Stanley Cup finals and you’re done . . . the handshake was hard,” said Iginla, who has been one of the Bruins’ best players this season. “But the time it took to get over the decisions? At the time I tried to make the best decision I could. Honestly, when I made it, I knew there was a good chance we’d be seeing the Bruins down the road. I was committed to it. You make (the decision), and you do your best. It didn’t work out, but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s not something I dwell on. I really try to just keep going forward and keep moving.”

Because of the Penguins’ salary cap situation, bringing back Iginla was not a real option. But despite the way the quest for his first Stanley Cup ended, he said the overall experience was a good one. And he was productive, too. He had five goals and six in 13 regular-season games with the Penguins. He added four goals and eight assists in his first 11 playoff games before getting shut out, along with the rest of Pittsburgh’s big guns, by the Bruins.

“They’re a very good team. I had a good experience there,” Iginla said of the Penguins. “They’re a top organization, and you get to see how they operate and learn more about different situations. It was a great experience. You wish you could have gone further. You want to win. But it was fun to be a part of it. It was fun to be in the conference finals. Everything up to the conference finals was great. It was obviously a sour ending for the Penguins and me, but it was still a lot of fun.”

Iginla said tomorrow’s game is important only from a team perspective.

“We’re coming off a loss, and a loss that stung. It’s one we could have had,” Iginla said of the B’s 4-3 loss to New Jersey on Saturday in which the Devils scored twice late in the third period. “There’s that, just trying to bounce back. And Pittsburgh’s a high-powered team and they’ve been a good team for a while. They’re right near us in the standings. We want to get back on the winning side. There are a lot of reasons why we want to get a win.”

Krug looks forward

After the loss to New Jersey, defenseman Torey Krug seemed as dejected as he’s been since coming up to the big club during last season’s playoffs. His double minor for high-sticking was a key contributor to the defeat. But yesterday the former Michigan State star seemed as chipper as ever. He seems to know how to turn the page.

“That’s kind of my game,” Krug said. “I’m a high-risk kind of player. I’ve made mistakes before, and I’m always going to make mistakes. And they’re not going to stop today even though I learned a lesson. You’ve got to have that. I think hockey players in general have to have a short-term memory. You’ve got to learn from it, and that’s what’s important.”