Young talent carries Bruins over Predators in season opener, 4-3

Young talent carries Bruins over Predators in season opener, 4-3

BOSTON, Mass – The talk through all of Bruins training camp has been about the influx of youthful talent, and those players showed why on opening night. 

With Patrice Bergeron, David Backes and Torey Krug missing from the lineup with injuries and ailments, the Bruins got goals from 21-year-old David Pastrnak, 20-year-old Jake DeBrusk and 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy in a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators in an impressive win at TD Garden. It was the first NHL goals for both DeBrusk and McAvoy as their respective families were both in attendance to watch a little history go down for them. 

On the veteran side of things, David Krejci racked up three assists to lead the returning veterans in the lineup and looked fast, healthy and strong after focusing this summer on keeping pace with a league that’s getting faster every year. 

Above and beyond the individual scorers, the Bruins looked fast and aggressive in holding the Predators at bay aside from the one goal allowed in the waning seconds of the first period. On that one Pastrnak coughed up a puck in the D-zone after a face-off win from David Krejci, and Viktor Arvidsson ended up beating Tuukka Rask high from a juicy shooting position in the slot. 

Otherwise, Rask and the B’s defense was strong with the Finnish netminder stopping 26-of-29 shots he faced and the Bruins skaters keeping the ice tilted toward Nashville’s end for most of the night. Brad Marchand added the empty netter in the closing minutes to seal the victory for Boston, and Nashville added a couple of very late PP goals to keep the score close. 

Now the Bruins will be off for the weekend without a game until a Monday afternoon matinee against the Colorado Avalanche, and a chance that perhaps Bergeron and Krug could return to the lineup ahead of their first West Coast trip of the season.  

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"


Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game.