Bruins beat Golden Knights 3-1 in battle of division leaders
LAS VEGAS — Jake DeBrusk scored early in the third period to put Boston ahead for good, and the Bruins beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 Sunday in a matchup of division leaders.
DeBrusk’s shot, which came on a terrific pass from Pavel Zacha over sliding Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez, put the Bruins in front 2-1 at 2:10 of the final period. Zacha was on the second line in place of center David Krejci, who did not play because of a lower-body injury and is expected to return Tuesday against the New York Islanders.
“When I saw J.B. coming back door, (Martinez) tried to slide down, and I was able to make a play and find him there,” Zacha said.
Charlie Coyle’s goal with 9:04 left extended the Bruins’ lead to 3-1.
Patrice Bergeron also scored for Boston and Linus Ullmark stopped the final 30 shots to improve to 16-1. The only goal he allowed came on Vegas’ first shot of the game.
“You just focus on the next puck, always,” Ullmark said. “That’s the focus. You can’t change what just happened. Just keep moving forward.”
The Bruins, who lead the Atlantic Division, split the season series with the Pacific-leading Knights. The teams met Monday in Boston as Knights coach Bruce Cassidy faced his former team for the first time in Vegas’ 4-3 shootout victory. He coached the Bruins the previous six seasons, taking them to the playoffs each year.
Boston improved to 11-1-1 against Western Conference teams.
Mark Stone scored for Vegas and Logan Thompson had 24 saves.
“The compete level was high from start to finish,” Cassidy said. “We were ready. When you get into those type of games with a team as good as Boston with all the depth they have, the margins become slimmer when you’re missing some of your guys who are difference-makers.”
The Knights entered this game down their leading scorer and two defensemen, and then defenseman Zach Whitecloud appeared to injure a knee early in the second period. Cassidy said he didn’t have an update on Whitecloud.
Stone put Vegas in front 1-0 just 4:04 into the game, taking a pass from Chandler Stephenson and easily stuffing the power-play goal into the net. The Bruins entered the game with the league’s best penalty kill, and this was the 15th power-play goal they have surrendered on 100 attempts.
Boston killed the three remaining Knights power plays.
The teams combined for just 11 shots on goal in a chippy opening period between clubs that play each other only twice a season. They came to near blows five times in the first 20 minutes.
Boston came out strong in the second period, taking the first nine shots on goal. The Bruins tied it 3:55 into the middle period when David Pastrnak put a pass on Bergeron’s stick in the slot for the point-blank shot.
Those two players began the game on separate lines, but Bruins coach Jim Montgomery played them together in the second period as an overall shuffle after Boston had just six shots on goal in the first.
“Sometimes you just get a feel it’s going to be a tight game,” Montgomery said. “If you think you have the best players, you should put them together and let them win it for you.”
Vegas top scorer Jack Eichel (lower body) didn’t play for the third time in four games. Defenseman Shea Theodore also didn’t play after appearing to injure a shin Friday night against Philadelphia. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo missed his seventh consecutive game because of an illness in his family. ... Pastrnak has points in 14 of his past 15 games (11 goals, eight assists). ... Three members of the United States’ women’s hockey team were in attendance. The U.S. plays Canada in an exhibition on Thursday in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson.
Bruins: Host the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
Golden Knights: At Winnipeg on Tuesday night.