By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Arena: T-Mobile Arena – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Home: Vegas Golden Knights (32-25-4)
Away: Boston Bruins (35-17-8)
Following a controversy-filled game against the San Jose Sharks on Monday, the Bruins are back in action for the second-last game on this western road trip. After earning a 3-0 lead in the first period, the Bruins allowed the Sharks to make a comeback, to the point where San Jose had a 5-4 lead late. Courtesy of a Chris Wagner tying goal and a McAvoy overtime winner, the Bruins won their sixth straight game and now take on the Golden Knights.
Vegas has struggled in their last ten games, going 3-7-0 in those contests. The Golden Knights still sit in third place in the Pacific division but are a full ten points behind the San Jose Sharks for second in the division. Also on Monday, the Avalanche beat the Golden Knights 3-0. Vegas will be looking to get back in the win column against the Bruins.
Bruins Gameday Lineup:
A nearly identical lineup for the Bruins as the game against San Jose, only Jaroslav Halak will be back in the net for Boston against Vegas.
Both teams entered tonight’s game with some back-and-forth play, a reoccurring trend for the Bruins on this road trip. Less than three minutes in, Jake DeBrusk turns on the jets to get a 2-on-1 with Karson Kuhlman but Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin stopped the play with the backcheck.
Not long after that, Vegas got their chance too, off of a net-front scramble with some shots on the net but Jaroslav Halak follows the puck the entire time to make a big glove save. The puck may have been deflected before it hit his glove hand but big save nonetheless.
4:58 into the hockey game, Brad Marchand drives into the zone and attempts a nice deke around Nate Schmidt who gets his lumber up in the face of Marchand and he is headed to the penalty box for two minutes. Big chance for the Bruins to score earlier on the power-play. Numerous times on the man-advantage, Boston tried a cross-zone feed for a possible one-timer but the Knights did a great job to intercept the passes at the centre of the zone and the penalty is killed off.
It would be the Bruins to strike first in this hockey game when Jake DeBrusk buried a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury with about nine minutes to go in the period. Kuhlman found David Krejci along the boards who made a solid feed to DeBrusk in the slot. DeBrusk span around defenceman Shea Theodore to retrieve the puck. Jake has goals in five straight games now and that is number nineteen on the season assisted by Krejci (39) and Kuhlman (1).
At the 14:24 mark of the opening period, Danton Heinen is called on a tripping minor and the Bruins are off to the penalty-kill for the first time tonight. Only nine seconds into the power-play, William Karlsson gets a slick pass from Jonathan Marchessault in the slot but Halak once again follows it and makes a glove save. Golden Knights fail to get any other chance and we are back to 5-on-5.
Yet again, the Bruins are back again with a poor end to a period and after some good zone control, Vegas comes back with a Cody Eakin shot on the net from the point that takes a bad rebound off of Halak’s right pad directly to former Bruin Reilly Smith who scores his first goal in thirteen games. Smith’s tenth of 2018-19 is assisted by Eakin (17) and Merrill (8).
Boston did not get a single shot on goal for over seven minutes in the second half of the frame. Against San Jose, the Bruins went a long time without a shot and was part of the reason for the comeback by the Sharks. Period ends at a 1-1 tie game.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 6 VGK: 10
Score: 1-1 – Goals: DeBrusk (19) Assists: Krejci (39), Kuhlman (1); Smith (10), Assists: Eakin (17), Merrill (8)
A little bit of a slow start to the middle period is quickly changed when Nate Schmidt throws the puck up for William Karlsson who gets in all alone on a breakaway but Halak stays square to the shot and makes the save. On the defensive zone faceoff loss, Halak makes two more saves on a pair of point shots by Vegas defensemen, still 1-1 in the second.
With just over six minutes gone in the second period, the Bruins go to their second power-play of this Wednesday Night Hockey Game due to a too-many-men call against the Golden Knights. Boston has not had much offensive zone time since the DeBrusk goal and this power-play could kickstart that offence. Unfortunately, Boston looked sloppy on the Vegas penalty and the Golden Knights did a good job clearing the puck and the B’s are 0-for-2 on the PP tonight.
Quite a lacklustre period for both teams leading to a penalty by Brayden McNabb – two minutes for hooking on Chris Wagner. Power-play number three for Boston coming up. One of the most active Golden Knights tonight, William Karlsson, gets a shorthanded bid, stopped by Halak. On the very next shift, Vegas gets alone on a 2-on-1, but Eakin gets robbed by Halak with a diving glove save. Terrible power-play for Boston in this game.
It has been all Vegas in this second period but Jaroslav Halak has been on his game tonight. Boston cannot get the puck out of the zone often and when they do, they cannot get Grade A scoring opportunities on Fleury.
Not as entertaining of a hockey game as the San Jose game, but the Bruins are still in it, 1-1 after forty minutes of play.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 14 VGK: 22
The offensively shy Bruins came out firing – literally. Charlie McAvoy bringing in the confidence that has been growing in the second half of the 2018-19 season carries the puck in the Vegas zone, handing it off to Danton Heinen. Heinen, while looking at the net, passes it across to Marchand who rips a blistering bomb past Fleury for a goal 1:09 in the final regulation period. Marchand’s 24th comes from Heinen (12) and McAvoy (14).
But, the Golden Knights were not planning on playing this game any longer while trailing as only twenty-seven seconds after the Marchand goal, Nate Schmidt gets around Charlie McAvoy with ease and rips a shot of his own past Jaroslav Halak for his seventh tally of the year. A straight momentum-killing goal from Schmidt assisted by Smith (24) and Marchessault (22).
Since the goal, Vegas has been back in the Bruins end more than the Bruins have been in theirs. Jaro Halak has had to be strong in net tonight and if the Bruins want to squeak out another point on this western swing, then he needs to continue to play well in the final three-quarters of this third period.
Late in the period, with about six minutes to go, William Karlsson continued his high-octane game with a bullet of a shot that beats Halak but rings off of the post. Karlsson has had some really good chances to score tonight but is yet to capitalize. Right back the other way, Brad Marchand also rings the iron and it remains 2-2.
The Bruins defence is struggling in this third period as well. Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug decided to go off at the wrong time, allowing Paul Statsny to get a strong wrist shot low on Halak, looking for another rebound goal similar to the opening tally of the game for Reilly Smith.
Even with a poor offensive performance tonight, the Bruins manage to get a point in this one and we are headed to 3-on-3 overtime.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 26 VGK: 30
Score: 2-2 – Goals: Marchand (24) Assists: Heinen (12), McAvoy (14); Schmidt (7) Assists: Smith (24), Marchessault (22)
The Bruins had the first good chance of the sudden death overtime as a shot put on by Marchand with a juicy rebound left for Krug who fails to get his stick on the ice to tap it in the open cage. Right back the other way, Vegas gets a few chances of their own with at least a minute of zone control but no goals came from the pressure.
With 2:46 to go, Torey Krug is too slow to get off the ice and McAvoy gets in on the rush too quickly and the Bruins are caught with too many men. Boston penalty-kill in overtime – huge kill on the way.
Reilly Smith had a good shot on the man-advantage as he tried a wrist shot short side, but Halak makes what looked like an easy glove save on the shot. Vegas couldn’t get the looks they were hunting for on this power-play and with big credit to Jaro Halak, the Bruins kill off the too-many-men minor successfully.
With no goals scored in OT, the two teams head to the shootout period.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 27 VGK: 33
- VGK Brandon Pirri – NO GOAL
- BOS Jake DeBrusk – GOAL
- VGK William Karlsson – GOAL
- BOS Patrice Bergeron – NO GOAL
- VGK Alex Tuch – NO GOAL
- BOS Brad Marchand – NO GOAL
- VGK Jonathan Marchessault – NO GOAL
- BOS Danton Heinen – NO GOAL
- VGK Shea Theodore – NO GOAL
- BOS Torey Krug – NO GOAL
- VGK Oscar Lindberg – NO GOAL
- BOS David Backes – GOAL – GAME-WINNER
Max’s Three Stars:
1st Star: BOS G Jaroslav Halak – 31 Saves on 33 Shots, 5 Shootout Saves .939 SV%
2nd Star: VGK F Reilly Smith – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Shots, 17:34 TOI
3rd Star: BOS F Jake DeBrusk – 1 Goal, 4 Shots, 16:40 TOI
The Boston Bruins have now won their seventh consecutive game and are now 4-for-4 on this western road trip. Only one more road game this Saturday against the St. Louis Blues at 4pm EST before heading back to Boston. The Bruins have now hit the 80-point plateau and have a four-point cushion on the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic division.