Talking points: Reilly Smith reminds Bruins why they let him go
Sean Kuraly has had a slow start to his season after last year’s playoff heroics, but he finally busted through for a big game when the Bruins needed him on Thursday night. Kuraly was active in and around the net and led the Bruins with four shots on net including the game-winning goal in the third period when he crashed the front of the net. He was cross checked by Brayden McNabb as he shoveled the loose puck across the goal line, but none of that stopped him from using his size and strength to good effect in the offensive zone battle areas. Kuraly had a couple takeaways and won 4-of-10 face-offs along with his first goal of the season in 11:40 of ice time. The Bruins will need more games like that until they get some of their injured players back.
Reilly Smith had a perfect night to make you remember why the Bruins got rid of him in the first place. Smith finished with two missed shots, two giveaways and was on the ice for both goals against in his 18:17 of ice time. Not only was Smith completely uninvolved offensively and really not very noticeable at all. But he was also part of the only two real Vegas breakdowns in front of a fourth-string goaltender where the Golden Knights are packing everything in defensively around him. Smith is actually having a decent enough season with four goals and nine points in 12 games for Vegas, but he was the invisible man vs. the Bruins.
It was all about winning the third period against a Vegas team that hasn’t traditionally been very good in the final 20 minutes, and that’s what the Bruins did this time around. It started with Tim Schaller stealing a puck at the blue line, and then ended with the B’s throwing pucks at the front of the Vegas net until Sean Kuraly finally pushed one through for the game-winning goal. It wasn’t a particularly fancy or impressive shift from an offensive standpoint, but it was a hard-working, grinding bottom-6 working shift where Schaller, Jake DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly all put their work boots on and finally broke through for a score.
Riley Nash is another Bruins forward that has been quiet for most of the season, but also played his best game of the season when the team needed him most. Nash finished with the first goal of the game, had seven shot attempts, five hits and won 10-of-15 face-offs in a great all-around performance in 16:30 of ice time. It’s something amazing to watch Nash playing with the determination and max effort that he showed on Thursday night, and then see him go through stretches like the previous 10 games where he wasn’t generating much offensively. The Bruins have to hope that a streaky guy like Nash is finding his range after getting the greasy goal by crashing the front of the net in the second period.
BY THE NUMBERS:
1 – Sean Kuraly scored his first career NHL during the regular season for the Thursday night game-winner, and now has those to add to the two scores from last year’s playoff series against the Ottawa Senators. What do all three goals have in common? One hell of a Kuraly celebration afterward.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
“There’s going to be times it might not look pretty but if we can get through those stretches, play through them and then get back on our game [we can be successful]. I think tonight was a good example of that.” –Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, on the Bruins navigating through the next few months while dealing with an injury-depleted roster.