If Tuesday night’s last-second 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks left a sour taste in your mouth, the Boston Bruins’ 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday undoubtedly washed that away.
The Bruins played a solid 60 minutes of hockey as Craig Smith secured his third career hat trick to pace the offense, while goaltender Jeremy Swayman won his fifth start in a row.
Without key cogs like Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez, Vegas looked out of sync, despite goals from Jonathan Marchessault and Jack Eichel. The Golden Knights weren’t sharp with the puck, and the opportunistic Bruins took advantage.
A Vegas turnover in the neutral zone set up Smith’s opening goal in the first, leading to an odd-man rush against Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner.
Smith struck again in the middle stanza after the Bruins won a puck battle behind Lehner, and Charlie Coyle hit the veteran winger with a stout cross-ice feed en route to No. 12’s second tally of the night.
A dangerous blueline pass from Charlie McAvoy resulted in Eichel’s breakaway goal late in the second. The B’s countered in the third, scoring three in the final 20 to secure their 33rd win of the season.
Here’s what we learned following Boston’s scoring party in Sin City.
Smith is off the schneid
Well, that was long enough.
Smith’s hat trick broke a 13-game goalless streak for the streaky winger dating back to Jan. 30 in Dallas.
The ex-Nashville Predator scored in each period on Thursday, with his third tally looking like his best David Pastrnak impression with a slap shot from the left side during the final stanza.
Smith upped his season goal total to nine following the win in Vegas after notching his first hat trick since May 2021 against the Buffalo Sabres.
The 32-year-old forward wasn’t the only Bruin to finish the night with three points. Smith’s fellow linemate, Trent Frederic, earned his first career three-point outing after notching assists on three of Boston’s five goals.
Eichel made his presence known
In just his seventh game since arriving from Buffalo earlier this season, Eichel was arguably the Golden Knights’ best player against the Bruins.
The 6-foot-2 centerman led all Vegas forwards in shots (five) and time-on-ice (20:56) and was dangerous late in the contest when the hosts entered desperation mode with the extra attacker late in the third.
Eichel showcased his impressive skating ability on his second-period breakaway goal. After creating a turnover in the attacking zone, the Charlestown native sped past a few Bruins’ defenders and slid the puck past Swayman for his second goal in a Golden Knights uniform.
The former Boston University Terrier has looked strong in his seven games with Vegas — filling in for Stone on the top line — picking up five points on two goals and three assists. But wins haven’t followed the Golden Knights as they’ve only picked up two since Eichel’s debut.
Eichel remains in search of his first career postseason appearance in his eighth season of professional hockey.
Pastrnak reaches 30 goals again
Pastrnak scored twice against Vegas, one on a self-rebound and another on an empty net, for his 30th and 31st goals of the season. The 2014 first-round selection now has five 30-plus goal seasons, the last coming during the 2019-20 season when he posted 48 tallies in 70 games played.
The Bruins’ prolific sniper has potted 23 goals in 27 games since Jan. 4 after tallying eight markers in his first 28 games.
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