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  • What we learned: Banged-up Bruins escape banged-up Knights

    Post Game

    What we learned: Banged-up Bruins escape banged-up Knights

    Bob Snow November 3, 2017

    “There’s going to be times it might not look pretty,” Bruce Cassidy said appropriately postgame Thursday night. “But if we can get through those stretches, play through them and then get back on our game, I think tonight was a good example of that.”

    Indeed, not pretty, given the consistent refrain in the Hub of Hockey. Thursday night’s rematch with the Vegas Golden Knights was more about those missing-in-action than those missing in other categories.

    David Krejci is still lingering on the sidelines with an aching back, Anton Khudobin with a lower-body ailment. David Backes on injured reserve for the next eight weeks, recovering from colon surgery earlier in the day for diverticulitis. That means a 2018 return at the earliest. Add Ryan Spooner and Noel Acciari still missing.

    Frank Vatrano riding the pine with no points in nine games.

    Not a whole lot better on the Golden Knights side with their three starters in goal out: Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk. Down to a fourth-string in minor-leaguer Maxime Lagace has slowed the Knights torrid and historic 8-1-0 start to an 8-3-0 mark with two losses Monday and Tuesday in New York. Lagace giving up six each night against the Islanders and Rangers.

    Meanwhile, the Black and Gold fell into a 3-0 hole Monday in Columbus but battled back to a 4-3 shootout loss to salvage a point.

    How dire is the Vegas goaltending situation? Their backup was called up from Kamloops of the Western Hockey League Halloween night.

    “I’ve seen the kid and said hello to him,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said at morning skate about Dylan Ferguson. “He came from junior hockey to being a backup in the National Hockey League. I’m sure the kid is pretty happy.”

    “It’s next man up,” he added about dealing with injuries, “that’s all you can do.”

    Speaking of next man up, GM Don Sweeney made the call to Providence for forwards Austin Czarnik and Jordan Szwarz on an emergency basis, and goaltender Zane McIntyre to backup Tuukka Rask. Czarnik leads the P-Bruins in scoring with 4-6-10 in five games.

    The Bruins looking to atone for a 3-1 loss on October 15 in Vegas and get some giddyup with their 4-3-3 mark. Tuukka Rask with one regulation win.

    Two D stats worth mentioning: Charlie McAvoy leading the B’s backline in scoring with eight points; former Bruin Colin Miller also with eight points to lead the Knights’ blueliners. The Bruins left Miller unprotected in June’s Expansion Draft.

    Interestingly, Bruce Cassidy opted to start an all-eggs-in-one-basket first line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak. And then deliver more combos than Sal’s pizzas across the next three.

    “We’ve got a top line that’s a threat every night,” Cassidy said postgame. “Tonight they were quiet in terms of the score sheet. You hope the rest of the group can contribute 200-foot games and chip in with secondary scoring. We’ve used a lot of different guys and moved them up. So they’re going to continue to get opportunities. Let’s play more of a north-south game. Until we get our feet under us, figure out exactly what we are in those three lines.”

    Here’s what we learned as a fourth-string goalie kept an expansion team in the game — and secondary scoring gave the Bruins a 2-1 win.

    Painful first 20

    The Bruins came out outshooting the Golden Knights by a 5-0 margin. And then rolled over, ending the period down 8-5. Two Vegas power plays and it added up to twenty minutes of lackluster play.

    “I didn’t dislike our first period,” Cassidy said. “I didn’t like the end of it. I liked the first eight, nine, 10 minutes and then we took a penalty and it seemed to get away from us a little bit and we started killing.”

    Nash ping-pongs B’s to 1-0 lead; DeBrusk gaffe knots score at 1-1

    Riley Nash poked a shot around Lagace that caromed off the far post and hit a Vegas defenseman and came right back on his stick. He wasted no time in scoring his first of the season at 3:24; Czarnik and Torey Krug assisting. “He’s a guy that pitches in offensively,” Cassidy offered about the Nash goal, “and he had a tough start that way, so maybe this will get him going a little bit confidence-wise.” Jake DeBrusk got his pocket picked on a breakout at 9:34 when Nate Schmidt – a defenseman – took the puck from behind the rookie inside the Bruins blue line – and went 2-on-1 with Cody Eakin who blew a 15-foot wrist shot past a defenseless Rask for the tying goal. A William Carrier shot with two minutes left knuckled along the goal crease behind Rask headed for the go-ahead goal, but Paul Postma’s clear at the last second kept the game tied after 40 minutes. Kuraly to the rescue

    Sean Kuraly muscled a Torey Krug rebound past Lagace at 9:53 to give the crowd some of their money’s worth and the 2-1 lead. DeBrusk also assisting.

    It was also Kuraly’s first career regular season tally.

    “Those are the type of goals he’s going to score,” Cassidy said about the game-winner. “He’s not a guy who’s going to come down the wing and inside-out someone generally and blast it in. He’ll track pucks down, loose pucks, breakaways, second chances.”

    “Yeah, I think it’s important and that’s what I’ve got to do to help this team push it in the right direction,” Kuraly said, “push the game in our favor and tonight I was lucky enough to find one on the doorstep.

    Short and sweet, the Bruins were lucky to escape with two points.

    “I’m not saying we can’t outscore a hockey team,” Cassidy summed about the foreseeable future, “but right now, until they’re comfortable offensively, I’m not sure that’s the formula. If you can see the games here, we won 2-1 [against] San Jose. 2-1 LA [Kings] beats us, but we get a point, 2-1 tonight. I think they’re going to see more of that just because of our makeup.”

    “If there is a need to play really strong defensively in a system you have to do that,” Zdeno Chara concurred. “You have to stay with the system.”

    Washington comes Saturday night with Braden Holtby in goal. He isn’t a fourth-stringer – and Boston’s defensive system will be heavily tested by Alex Ovechkin and company.

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