Kuraly, Nash step up for shorthanded Bruins

Kuraly, Nash step up for shorthanded Bruins

BOSTON – With a handful of Bruins players down with injuries, the cliché has been that it creates opportunities for others to step up into the void. 

There hadn’t been an overwhelming number of B’s players that have really raised their game thus far, but that changed on Thursday night against the Vegas Golden Knights as both Sean Kuraly and Riley Nash had their best games of the season. Kuraly and Nash were the two goal-scorers for the Bruins in the tight-checking 2-1 win over the Golden Knights at TD Garden, and found a way to light the lamp with Vegas’ defense focused on shutting down the stacked Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak line.

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“That’s what this league is about. A lot of top lines are really good. Patrice Bergeron [and his line] certainly win their share of battles, but a lot of times they can also cancel out. At that point it can become a special teams battle, or a battle of the third and fourth lines,” said Nash, who scored the game’s first goal on a second-effort bid in front of the net after his first shot rocketed off the post. “I think at this point our third and fourth lines haven’t contributed enough, myself included. It just has been a tight-checking so far, so hopefully these can help out the confidence and we can start contributing more on a regular basis. That can help our team put some winning streaks together.”

Certainly, it was about Nash scoring the first goal for the Bruins in the second period, and then it was about Kuraly crashing the net in the third period while fighting through Brayden McNabb trying to take him out of the play. 

Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk had each initially fired up shots at the Vegas net that were stopped by Maxime Lagace, but the big-bodied Kuraly was the one that finally broke after driving straight toward the Vegas net. Both Bruins goals in the Vegas win were second-chance efforts right around the front of the net, and that’s exactly what the B’s coaching staff has been preaching for weeks while waiting for it to arrive. 

On Thursday night against a fourth-string rookie goalie ripe for the pressure, the Bruins finally started to kick in their dues-paying, blue-collar production in a winning effort despite missing some pretty big offensive guns. 

“It was good to see Sean get rewarded. He’s certainly more than willing to go to those [dangerous scoring] areas. Those are the type of goals he’s going to score,” Bruce Cassidy said. “He’s not a guy who’s going to come down the wing and inside-out someone generally and blast it in. He’ll track pucks down, loose pucks, breakaways, and second chances. So, good for him [to score a goal].

“The opportunities will be there. We’re not asking anybody to be something they’re not, but be what you are on a regular basis, and you’ll get plenty of opportunity. Riley fits into that category and I was happy for him. He’s a guy that pitches in offensively and he had a tough start that way, so maybe this will get him going a little bit confidence-wise.”

Certainly the Bruins can’t expect to get scoring from secondary contributors like Nash and Kuraly every single night, but even a gradual uptick in their production could go a long way toward absorbing some of the organizational losses currently incurred by the injuries thus far to Krejci, Backes, Spooner, Acciari and Adam McQuaid among others.

That was the case on Thursday night as skilled, bottom-6 veteran forwards in Nash and Kuraly proved just important they could be in showing the young B’s players how to get things done. 

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Kuraly makes first NHL goal count in Bruins' 2-1 win over Vegas

Kuraly makes first NHL goal count in Bruins' 2-1 win over Vegas

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.