By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Boston Bruins
Away: Vegas Golden Knights
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Coyle – Bjork
Heinen – Krejci – Kuhlman
Blidh – Kuraly – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Lauzon
Marchessault – Stephenson – Smith
Pacioretty – Stastny – Stone
Carrier – Eakin – Tuch
Nosek – Roy – Reaves
McNabb – Schmidt
Holden – Theodore
Hague – Engelland
David Krejci returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury, centering Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman. Anton Blidh slotted into the lineup for the first time this season, as he has been sidelined since September due to shoulder surgery.
Jeremy Lauzon jumped right into the lineup after being called up earlier today. He suited up once for the Bruins earlier in the season on New Year’s Eve against the New Jersey Devils. The Vegas Golden Knights, now led by head coach Peter DeBoer, stood in the way of the Bruins.
The Bruins came out of the gate with plenty of intensity, but Mark Stone put the Golden Knights on the board first just a minute and 24 seconds in, on their first shot of the game. Nicolas Hague took the first penalty of the game for the Golden Knights, 15 seconds later for interference. Luckily for them, they killed the penalty and held onto their lead.
Later in the period, Stone found his way to the box for tripping with 12:45 to go in the period. The Bruins couldn’t beat Marc-Andre Fleury despite playing with such intensity and generating some high-quality chances. Through the first ten minutes, they held a 9-3 advantage in shots.
Lauzon loves playing against the Golden Knights. Last season, he scored his first career goal against them. This time around, he sent a shot through traffic and past Fleury to tie the game 8:20 remaining in the period. His first of the season was assisted by David Krejci (22) and Karson Kuhlman (3).
Zdeno Chara sat for two minutes for tripping with 4:05 remaining. A solid penalty kill from the Bruins kept the game tied. Jake DeBrusk nearly broke the tie off of a great pass from Krejci not too long after the penalty expired, but was stopped by Fleury. The final shots through an entertaining first 20 minutes were 14-8 in favor of the Bruins.
An early Bruins power play came when William Carrier went off for interference just a minute and 42 seconds in. The Golden Knights killed the penalty, but were caught with too many men on the ice just 25 seconds after Carrier’s penalty expired. Despite taking four penalties very early on, they managed to kill them off successfully.
Brandon Carlo took the second Bruins penalty of the game for high sticking with 10:45 remaining. Hague made it hurt on a booming one-timer from the point for his first career NHL goal. With 9:01 remaining, the Golden Knights regained the lead. Hague’s goal magnified how the struggles on the power play that the Bruins were experiencing can really sting.
Charlie McAvoy went pretty hard into the boards head first following contact with Chandler Stephenson. As a result, Stephenson sat for two minutes for boarding and McAvoy surprisingly remained on the bench, but in some pain, understandably.
Power play chances came and went, but the Bruins couldn’t convert on their fifth power play. They went into the third period 0-for-5 on the man advantage for the game with just three shots. Through 40 minutes, the total shots 23-16 overall and 9-8 in the period, both in favor of the Bruins. Converting on their opportunities was the problem, and they needed to fix it fast if they want a chance to win.
Score: 2-1 Vegas
DeBrusk saw some good opportunities come his way throughout the game and was rewarded for his efforts in the third. His 15th goal of the season came in the form of a sweet snipe to tie the game. Charlie Coyle’s 18th assist helped set it up, as did Jaroslav Halak’s second assist of the season with 15:34 remaining.
Matt Grzelcyk made his way down the tunnel after a collision with Cody Eakin. Not good, although he eventually returned to the bench. Krejci’s goal was good though. A great effort by Kuhlman began to establish offensive zone time and with some help from Carlo, Heinen, and the hand-eye coordination of Krejci, the Bruins took the lead. The goal marked Krejci’s 12th of the season, plus Carlo and Heinen’s 12th and 14th assists respectively. The Bruins led for the first time all night.
Fleury was pulled for an extra attacker and Stone made an incredible effort to thwart Krejci’s bid for an empty netter, but it wasn’t enough for Vegas to tie it up. The Bruins held the advantage in shots at 14-13 in the final frame, bringing the grand total to 37-29 in their favor. They really had to grind to earn two points ahead of the long break that awaits. Halak made 27 saves in the win. Next up are the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 31 at MTS Centre at 8:00 PM ET. The Bruins are 29-10-12.