What we learned: Power play and Patrice Bergeron’s return propel Bruins
Many issues faced the Bruins during their first five games of the 2017-18 season. Arguably the biggest issue: no Patrice Bergeron.
After Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks, the Bruins can cross one of those problems off their list. Not only did Bergeron return to the lineup, he scored in his first game of the year, and added three assists in a huge night for the Brad Marchand-Bergeron-Anders Bjork trio.
With Tuukka Rask out indefinitely due to a concussion suffered in Wednesday’s practice after a collision with Bjork, Anton Khudobin got the nod between the pipes for the Bruins. Khudobin wasn’t all too sharp but did enough to keep the Canucks from making it much of a game.
Here is what we learned as the Bruins go to 3-3-0 on the young season:
Bergeron and David Backes return, Matt Beleskey sits:
After missing the Bruins’ first five games, both Bergeron – playing in his 900th career NHL game – and Backes returned to the lineup Thursday night at TD Garden. Bergeron was fighting a lower-body injury while Backes was battling a case of diverticulitis.
Bergeron picked up a pair of first period assists en route to a four (1-3-4) point night, while Backes played 18:13 and looked good in his return to the lineup.
“Yeah, I felt good. I mean, you know, it’s one of those where it’s the first one so your legs are a little heavy, especially early on, but, you know, getting those goals definitely helps get yourself going, and yeah after that, you know, I felt better as the game went on,” Bergeron said following his season debut.
With Bergeron and Backes returning, Beleskey was one the odd man out. The former Anaheim Duck has failed to register a single point in five games.
Kenny Agostino makes Bruins debut:
With the rash of Bruins injuries up front and some players having some trouble with consistency, Kenny Agostino made his Bruins debut on Thursday. Prior to his promotion, Agostino led Providence with two goals and five assists in three games. He was also tied for third in the AHL with seven points.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy showed a lot of confidence in Agostino who looked solid in his debut. For Cassidy, it was easy to insert Agostino into the injured Ryan Spooner’s spot.
“Yeah, he was going in on Spooner’s spot. We’ve lost Ryan for a stretch here so we need to – I don’t want to use the word audition because you hate to say that word when the season is going on, but that’s what it is a little bit here,” Cassidy said during his postgame press conference.
Erik Gudbranson boards Frank Vatrano, Bruins make Canucks pay:
With the Bruins and Canucks knotted at one early in the first, Vatrano played the puck behind the Vancouver net where he was boarded by Gudbranson. Tim Schaller immediately jumped in to the aid of his teammate, dropping the gloves with the big defenseman. Gudbranson was given a five minute major and a game misconduct.
“I turned around and see Frankie [Vatrano] was squished up against the boards pretty good with his back turned so I just assumed he just got hit from behind,” said Schaller. “I’m going to stand up for my teammates so I jumped in.”
As much as the Bruins appreciated the way Schaller stuck up for Vatrano, the team’s response was that much sweeter. David Pastrnak, Bjork and David Krejci all scored while the Canucks were shorthanded, a five-minute power play that saw the Bruins fire 10 pucks on net. The Bruins’ four goals in 7:11 was enough to chase Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson, who was coming off of a 32-save shutout of the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night.
Pastrnak’s hands came to play:
There’s no doubt Pastrnak is the Bruins best goal scorer, his first-period end-to-end goal was a prime example of that. Taking the open ice given to him, followed by the splitting of the Canuck’s defense with a slick move, capped off with a backhanded goal past Nilsson, Pastrnak’s goal was one that will be shown on highlight reels all season long.
“I don’t know I just kept skating straight and all of a sudden I had one-on-one,” Pastrnak said about his highlight reel goal. “In my head just trying to make a play on one-on-one you know and it got through and ended up in the net. It was a good goal.”
Pastrnak is tied with Brad Marchand for the team lead with four goals.