Patrice Bergeron’s four-point performance in his season debut lifted the Bruins to a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night at the Garden. Bergeron centered Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, and the line combined for a total of 10 points while maintaining a relentless forecheck.
The two teams exchanged early goals, but the tides turned when Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for this hit on Frank Vatrano.
Vatrano’s nose took some damage in the play, but he stayed in the game. Tim Schaller, who is not known for fighting, stepped up and dropped the gloves with the 6’5″, 220-pound Gudbranson and held his own.
The Bruins blew the game wide open on the ensuing power play, scoring three goals in a 1:37 span. It was the first time since 1998 that the Bruins accomplished this feat.
David Pastrnak scored the first of the three on what will wind up being a goal of the year candidate. He went end-to-end and deked around Michael Del Zotto before putting a shot past Anders Nilsson.
Bjork joined in on the fun 23 seconds later with a blast from the top of the right circle to make it 3-1.
This was Bjork’s second goal of the night, and he would add an assist to make for a three-point game. He nearly completed the hat trick in the first period when he was sprung for a breakaway out of the penalty box but fired a shot wide.
David Krejci capped off the dominant power play opportunity by collecting and burying a Bergeron rebound in the slot to extend the lead to 4-1.
Krejci registered a goal and an assist but left the game late in the second period and did not return. It is unclear what occurred, but it would be a huge blow to the team if he misses time.
Another potential injured player to keep an eye on is Adam McQuaid. In the third period, he blocked a shot, got back to his feet and immediately blocked another, and he limped down the tunnel.
Health has been an issue for the Bruins early on. Bergeron and David Backes finally returned, but Ryan Spooner (out 4-6 weeks with a groin injury) and Tuukka Rask (out indefinitely with a concussion) already went down in the past couple of days.
The Canucks battled back into the game late in the second period and pulled within two goals, but Bergeron’s third-period goal sealed the win.
The Bruins will face their first Eastern Conference opponent Saturday night when they host Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres. It will be an important game to take two points from, especially with the San Jose Sharks and LA Kings coming up after that.
- Bergeron made history in what was his 900th-career game by passing Ken Hodge for 7th place on the Bruins all-time scoring list with 675 points. His ability to produce so much offense while also being the best defensive forward in the league never ceases to amaze me. He has had an incredible career, and he’s still not slowing down.
- Depending on how long Rask is out, Anton Khudobin could be getting a lot of work in the coming weeks. He stopped 26 of 29 shots he faced and had a strong game overall. However, his rebound control should be tightened up moving forward. A few shots popped up and over him after his initial save and made for some adventures in the crease.
- Kenny Agostino made his season debut after being recalled from Providence. He looks like he belongs in the NHL. He assisted on Krejci’s goal and had four shots on goal, including a couple of high-quality scoring chances. His offensive instincts are obvious, especially on the power play where he makes smart plays with the puck.
- Trying to get his team back into the game, Derek Dorsett challenged Kevan Miller to a fight late in the first. Dorsett got the better of Miller early on, but Miller finished with a flurry of punches and took him down.
[Photo via Matt Stone/Boston Herald]