The Boston Bruins begin the season with a 3-0 mark for the first time since the 2001-02 season. A stellar second period — in their best 20 minutes of hockey of this young season — along with a prototypical quality performance from the top line propelled the Bruins to a thrilling 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night.
Yet the Bruins survived a couple of scary moments along the way. Matt Grzelcyk skated to the locker room after blocking a shot in the knee in the first period, but returned for the middle stanza, while Tuukka Rask appears to be fine despite needing assistance off the ice after the final buzzer at T-Mobile Arena.
Alas, the Bruins are a perfect 3-for-3 so far as they look to sweep their season-opening road trip Thursday night in Colorado. Here’s what we learned from Boston’s close win in Sin City.
Familiarity leads to early success
The Bruins didn’t have much roster turnover during the off-season. Marcus Johansson’s departure and the Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm signees marked the only notable transactions during Boston’s short summer.
Some pundits expected the Bruins to have a bit of a slow start to the new season. After all, they had a short time to recover from the wear and tear of their long playoff run through mid-June.
Yet here they already making franchise history by winning their first three games of their season-opening trip — all by one goal. And they’re already winning in different ways be it a low-scoring grinder — like in Dallas and Arizona — or overcoming an early two-goal deficit as they did in Vegas.
“We’re a resilient team. We’ve shown that plenty of times with the experience in here,” Brad Marchand told reporters inside the visiting locker room at T-Mobile Arena. “We kept going, and it was a good comeback by us.”
Marchand and company ran into some roadblocks along their way to the 3-0 start. They weren’t exactly sharp in the first two tilts as they shook off some of the proverbial rust, but both Rask and Jaroslav Halak bailed them out, allowing a mere one goal combined against the Stars and Coyotes.
The Bruins didn’t come slow out of the gates Tuesday night, but they still found themselves down a pair after Mark Stone and old friend Reilly Smith scored 1:44 apart. They overcame the deficit with four unanswered goals before Max Pacioretty pulled the Golden Knights within one late in the third. But Boston persevered all night long and held off the late Vegas push.
“Being down early, being able to come back and winning a close game in the end…those are experiences that we’ll put in our pocket and use for another day,” said defenseman Torey Krug, who netted his first of the season to complete the four-goal outburst early in the middle stanza.
They’ll have plenty of experiences and learning lessons throughout the 82-game slate. Yet, the Bruins have four deep lines, three stout defensive pairings and a pair of talented goaltenders that are all familiar with one another.
But one top line, in particular, stole the show.
The top line took over
The Golden Knights are a top ticket in town, but Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak put on a show worthy of a headline act on the Vegas Strip.
The dynamic trio put the Bruins on their back following the 2-0 deficit starting after Bergeron stole the puck in the attacking end leading to Pastrnak’s first of the season; Marchand also assisting.
Marchand netted the next pair on a power play one-timer late in the first and a slick snapshot past Marc-Andre Fleury on Pastrnak’s long indirect feed off the boards early in the second.
Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak couldn’t quite escape their rusty first two games. But they slowly found their rhythm in Arizona following their rough opening night outing in Dallas.
The top line clicked on the power play and 5-on-5. The latter became a sore spot against a physical St. Louis Blues bunch during the Stanley Cup Final. But they broke through that even-strength barrier on this night.
Breathing a sigh of relief on Grzelcyk and Rask
Amidst the familiarity leading to the early success, the Bruins feel pretty lucky to finish Tuesday’s tilt with their core intact.
The first scare came just 35 seconds in when Grzelcyk blocked a Valentin Zykov. The former Boston University captain returned for the second period following x-rays on his foot (via Marisa Ingemi of the Boston Herald) and blocked another shot to go along with his 11:34 of ice time.
Crisis averted, right? Well, the sight of Rask skating off with a pair of teammates assisting left Bruins fans holding their breath again. It wasn’t because of injury, though, but rather a case of cramps inside a heated building in the desert.
It wasn’t a pretty sight, but another potential crisis was indeed averted.
The Bruins won’t go an entire 82-game season unscathed. After all, David Krejci missed the season opener. But they’re fortunate to leave Vegas with only bumps and bruises following an entertaining and physical early-season contest.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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