(Photo Credit: Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism

The Boston Bruins finally got what they were looking for. Coming into Thursday night’s clash with the Vegas Golden Knights, the slumping Bruins were 3-2-5 in their last ten games, including a four-game road trip where they escaped with just one win. Blown third-period leads, uncharacteristic penalties, and a lack of urgency plagued the Bruins on their trip out West. On Thursday night, the Bruins ironed out the wrinkles—sort of.

Mason Lohrei scored the game-winning goal in the third period, and Morgan Geekie netted a hat trick as the Bruins skated past Vegas in a 5-4 win at TD Garden. However, it didn’t come without its lapses. Instead of squandering a third-period lead, it looked as though the Bruins fast-tracked their recent habit up a period, watching their 3-0 lead evaporate to a 4-4 game.

“It’s game management, it’s making sure you’re doing the right thing and you’re on the right side of the puck, and we’re just not consistently doing that,” said head coach Jim Montgomery after the win.

On the power play late in the third period, an unsuccessful attempt from the first unit gave Montgomery’s second grouping an opportunity. It’s safe to say Lohrei made the most of it, bombing a one-timer through the five-hole of Adin Hill to place Boston into the win column.

“(It was) unbelievable,” Lohrei said. “First one here at the Garden, so one I’ll remember forever. I kind of blacked out after I saw it went in.”

Kevin Shattenkirk set up Lohrei’s blast and is someone who’s watched the youngster progress over his ups and downs in the National Hockey League this season. Lohrei skated 16:58 of ice time tonight in 23 shifts, scoring his first NHL goal since December 15.

“I think the biggest thing is that he’s learned how to manage the game,” said Shattenkirk. “Obviously early on, we knew how special he is with the puck and his skating abilities. He’s become much more confident defensively.”

Before miscues began to cost the Bruins, it couldn’t have been a better start. The Bruins were all over Vegas from the drop of the puck on Causeway Street, pushing the pace of play and dominating the puck possession. Hill stood strong on a number of Boston opportunities in the slot, but eventually, something had to give—and that was Geekie.

“It’s good,” Geekie said of his hat trick. “You know, it’s something that you don’t ever really think about coming into a game, but it’s always fun, especially when you get two points for sure. So it was good to close that one out, especially the way we’ve finished the last couple games.”

Collecting a pass from Trent Frederic, Geekie was off to the races on a breakaway, snapping a lethal shot over the glove of Hill to light the lamp. But the goal was all in the setup. Danton Heinen is perfectly positioned in the shooting lane along the right point, forcing Vegas to move the puck laterally to the top. However, that pass is immediately met with Geekie, who forces Jonathan Marchessault to cough up the puck. Since Frederic dropped back to fill in his lane, he was there for the loose puck—and Geekie was gone.

The Bruins kept their pressure on full throttle, cashing in on another goal less than a minute later. A productive shift from Boston’s fourth line concluded with Jesper Boqvist finding twine, beating Hill alone in the slot. Jakub Lauko feathered the puck into open space in front of the goal, capitalizing on a Vegas defensive breakdown. It’s the kind of greasy, gritty goal the Bruins seek from their grinders. They possessed the puck, working it low to high, leading to a battle below the goal line that Lauko came up with. 

“Even on the road trip our third and fourth line lead scoring in five on five more than the first and second (lines). So it’s much needed,” said Montgomery.

Geekie capped off the trifecta of first-period tallies with his second goal of the game just 2:19 after his first score, one-timing a perfectly placed pass from David Pastrnak past Hill. Pastrnak showed Hill that he was in a shooting position, forcing him to commit to a potential shot. This put Geekie wide open on the left faceoff dot, pelting a puck into the upper half of the net. The Bruins trotted to the dressing room on cloud nine.

“It was nice to see him skating hanging on to pucks,” Montgomery said of Geekie. “He made a lot of clever possession plays prior to his second goal.”

Then, the second period happened, a complete shift from Boston’s first-period dominance. Vegas came out flying, doing to Boston what was done to them in the first. As a result, they scored twice, cutting what was once a 3-0 Boston lead to 3-2. Paul Cotter traded his stick for a baseball bat, whacking an airborne puck out of midair past Jeremy Swayman to break the ice for Vegas. The Knights followed up their circus goal with a tally from Alex Pietrangelo, banging home his own rebound into the back of the net. Charlie McAvoy turned the puck over at the blue line, leading to the opportunity the other way. The play summed up Boston’s second-period start.

When Vegas took to the power play at 13:47, it looked like the Knights were about to complete their three-goal comeback. The Bruins didn’t let that happen, turning the penalty kill into a momentum grab and creating a handful of odd-man rushes on Hill. Heinen had a breakaway attempt and a three-on-one chance with Lohrei and Jake DeBrusk. 

Before long, hats were reigning down at TD Garden, and the Bruins added an insurance goal to make it 4-2. Pastrnak fired a puck on goal, hitting Geekie and deflecting into the back of the net. It wasn’t pretty, but Geekie was in the right spot at the right time. But Vegas kept pushing, as a failed breakout attempt left Michael Amadio alone in the slot. He didn’t misfire, clinging his shot off the right post and in to keep Vegas within striking distance.

The Knights ultimately knotted the contest at four in the third period, as Chandler Stephenson converted a short-handed breakaway goal. Hill robbed Brad Marchand on the doorstep before a puck squirted loose into the neutral zone, where Stephenson beat Marchand and Pastrnak in a leg race for the puck. He went top shelf on Swayman to tie the game at 5:01 of the third. Lohrei’s third-period blast sealed the deal, as the Bruins survived and ended a three-game skid. The Bruins are back in action to kick off a two-game road stint against the New York Islanders Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re just on to the next game,” said Montgomery. “That’s the way we’re thinking about it. And we’re not trying to overanalyze the wins and losses. We’re trying to battle and get better.”