Mark Stone’s power play marker opened the scoring for a banged-up Vegas squad, which kept their 1-0 lead intact heading into the first intermission. A sharp Logan Thompson turned away the only six shots he faced in the opening frame.
The David Krejci-less Bruins struggled to solve Thompson for the second time in a week. But an offensive shakeup paved the way for more fruitful results in the ensuing 40 minutes.
“You’ve got to be ready for anything,” Taylor Hall said to the media following Boston’s 3-1 victory. “We play with so many guys on our team. Monty [Jim Montgomery] switches the lines a lot.”
Patrice Bergeron found the equalizer early on in the second period, burying the feed from David Pastrnak from the slot.
The reunited ‘perfection line’ set the offensive tone in the second period. A newly constructed middle-six would finish off Vegas in the final frame.
Jake DeBrusk notched a highlight-reel goal off a tremendous feed from Pavel Zacha to put the Bruins up 2-1 just 2:10 into the final frame.
Charlie Coyle added an insurance marker midway through the third, and Linus Ullmark provided yet another stellar outing, stopping 30 shots and improving to 16-1-0 on the season.
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins avoided their first two-game skid of the season.
An offensive shakeup provides balanced scoring.
Jim Montgomery hasn’t shied away from shaking up his lineup through in-game adjustments during the first 27 games of the season.
Montgomery’s latest shakeup came to the entirety of Boston’s forward group on Sunday. Pastrnak and DeBrusk traded right wings within the top six, while Nick Foligno replaced A.J. Greer alongside Coyle and Frederic on the third line.
“I think I made the switch in the second,” Montgomery said. “I switched Foligno up to the third line in the beginning of the third. I had switched Pastrnak and DeBrusk early in the second.”
Montgomery’s adjustments sparked Boston’s offense, receiving contributions from each of the top three lines.
“We’re very fortunate,” Montgomery added. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can play different positions; we’ve got some guys that can play all three. That allows you to see who’s going and put those guys together, and hopefully things happen, and that happened tonight.”
Bergeron’s goal was the direct result of an offensive zone faceoff win. The draw went right back to Connor Clifton, who quickly found David Pastrnak along the right wall. Pastrnak found his former longtime linemate alone in the slot, who made no mistake.
The second line of Hall-Zacha-DeBrusk connected for a beautiful sequence reminiscent of an early-November goal that the three combined for against the New York Rangers. Hall’s hard work got the puck up to Zacha, whose saucer pass found DeBrusk for a back-door one-timer to give the Bruins the lead.
“Playing with [Zacha] and [DeBrusk], they’re no slouch either,” Hall said. “They’re good hockey players, and we’ve actually had some success in the limited time we’ve played together this year. We had a big goal in New York, actually a really similar play.”
Ullmark makes more timely saves.
After Stone scored on Vegas’ first shot of the game, the Bruins’ rock between the pipes stopped the next 30 shots he faced. His night of timely saves included a pair of breakaway denials of William Carrier and Ben Hutton.
Hutton, who had just exited the penalty box, received a stretch pass from Stone. Ullmark answered the bell against Hutton, denying the Vegas d-man with a dazzling glove save to keep the score even at one.
“That’s probably where I thought he was going to shoot,” Ullmark said. “He has a good shot, quick enough to get down on it there and read the trajectory.”
Carrier snuck in behind Hall and DeBrusk for another breakaway just over four minutes later. But once again, Ullmark stood tall with a gith pad stop to keep the game tied at 1-1.
“[Ullmark] seems to be getting more confident if that’s possible,” Montgomery said. “He really seems in control of everything that’s going on. Whether he’s playing the puck out of the crease or he’s in the crease and in traffic, he’s seeing pucks. He’s just playing great hockey right now.”
A successful road trip and beyond
Sunday night’s victory concluded one of their more challenging stretches of the season. Friday night’s bizarre loss to the Coyotes was an outlier in an otherwise benchmark stretch of schedule.
“We needed to reset,” Hall said. “It was a tough ending to the game obviously, in a game where we thought we played pretty well.
The injury woes of Colorado and Vegas shouldn’t discredit Boston’s impressive 6-2-1 record.
A handful of playoff-caliber opponents await the Bruins in the coming weeks, and their successful nine-game stretch will only benefit this battle-tested bunch moving forward.
“It’s a really good road win,” Ullmark said, “and a good way to end our road trip.”
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.