BOSTON – The Bruins needed more players to start stepping up if they were going to still gather wins and points while enduring so many injuries, and that’s exactly what happened on Thursday night.
Both Riley Nash and Sean Kuraly scored their first goals of the season and powered the Bruins offense to a 2-1 win over the stodgy, gritty Golden Knights at TD Garden.
After a low-event first period where both teams were testing each other out, things really got started in earnest in the middle stanza between Boston and Vegas. The Bruins got on the board first when Riley Nash got a second effort goal in front for his first score of the season after flinging his first bid hard off the bar.
Vegas tied things up on a rough turnover from Jake DeBrusk, who had his pockets picked by Nate Schmidt near the defensive blue line. Schmidt quickly fed the puck to Cody Eakin for a bang-bang shot and release that beat a sprawling Tuukka Rask.
That’s the way it stayed until the third period when Tim Schaller intercepted a puck at the offensive blue line and started a shift where Boston had the Golden Knights scrambling in their own end. It ultimately turned into Sean Kuraly crashing the net for a loose puck in front after Maxime Lagace had kicked around a couple of shots.
The rest was up to Tuukka Rask and the Bruins defense to hang on in the final minutes with Rask standing tall for 28 saves as the Golden Knights tried to put together a late rally to push things into overtime.
Here are the all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while nothing could be finer than a Sunday spent in Buffalo.
*Congrats to Chris Kelly, who parlayed his captaincy with Team Canada into a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks for the rest of this season.
*A very good move by the Maple Leafs to land Montreal center Tomas Plekanec, who is definitely a guy that gets under the skin of Bruins center David Krejci if Boston and Toronto do indeed meet in the first round of the playoffs.
*Patrik Elias gets the hero’s treatment from the New Jersey Devils after a fantastic career with the organization.
*Do not get on the goaltenders in St. Louis with mock cheers, or you will surely feel the wrath of Vladimir Tarasenko.
*What happens when an excellent, electric hockey game gets in the way of a trade deadline where the Montreal Canadiens are selling off pieces?
*For something completely different: Here’s an excellent piece on the work of NBC production people back in Stamford, Connecticut that are the backbone of the Olympics coverage that everybody has come to know and love.
BUFFALO – Amid rumors that Brian Gionta might be linked to Boston ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, the Bruins have signed the 39-year-old former Cup champion to a one-year deal coming off his Olympic stint with Team USA in PyeongChang. Gionta agreed to a one-year, one-way deal with the Bruins for $700,000, which makes much more sense as a 13th forward/depth piece after the Bruins also finalized their blockbuster trade for Rick Nash with the New York Rangers.
The 5-foot-7, 178-pound Gionta had 15 goals and 35 points for the Buffalo Sabres last season, but had sat out all of this year with the chance to compete in the Olympics this past month before hooking on with an NHL team for the final few months of the season. The former Boston College standout will certainly add an experienced, veteran option for the Bruins should some of their younger wingers hit any kind of a competitive wall down the stretch.
"Depth and veteran leadership and a player that's highly motivated,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, when asked what Gionta brings to the table. “He waited to see what clubs might have been in a position to be in the playoff race and we hope we can continue to be one those clubs and he's going to add to that."
What isn’t expected is that Gionta will be a regular, every day member of the Bruins lineup unless injuries or underperformance creep into players’ games in the final few months of the season, or into the playoffs. Instead the Bruins will be bringing on a former captain with the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres that’s won a Stanley Cup on his NHL resume, and has posted 32 goals and 68 points in 112 career playoff games during his 1,000 plus career NHL games.
Gionta wasn’t available to play with the Bruins for Sunday’s late afternoon tilt against the Buffalo Sabres, but will instead get worked into the Black and Gold mix when the Bruins resume practicing Tuesday in Boston.