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RECAP: Bruins play fast and loose in first, coast to 6-3 win over Canucks

Bergeron is up to his old tricks in his season debut; Backes was serviceable; McQuaid left with a blocked-shot injury again. Ah, the good times are back.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Boston Bruins
Bjork is a real bright spot in this game, scoring two goals and adding an assist.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

So many good omens rolling into this game. The train wasn’t crowded; first David Backes and Adam McQuaid are announced on the game roster around midday, and then Patron Saint of Selke Patrice Bergeron is ready to go at game time. Playing against a Western Conference bottom-feeder boosted the mood a bit - but, then again, wins don’t ever come free.

First Period

This one didn’t kick off all that pleasantly, as Charlie McAvoy retaliated a Derek Dorsett hit with a slash on Jake Virtanen less than a minute into the game. This theme continues for McAvoy, who still needs to learn how to stay out of the box.

The Devil Himself (Dorsett, at least for this game) scored Vancouver’s first goal of the game about 3 minutes into the game. His presence on the ice would be felt by the Bruins for the entire game. Boring wrister that deflected off a Boston stick; moving on. You’d be forgiven if you sighed deeply at this point in the game, but you wouldn’t have taken more than a few breaths before Wunderkind Anders Bjork answered less than a minute later, tapping in a rebound off a long half-slap from Bergeron, who earned his first point of the season with the assist; Brad Marchand earned the secondary.

Thanks to Marina for most of these GIFs!

A few minutes later, Erik Gudbranson lined up Frank Vatrano from above the goal line and hit him between the numbers with his shoulder into the boards. Vatrano’s face found the glass, and Tim Schaller came to Frank’s defense, dropping his gloves and squaring up with the slightly larger defenseman. Vatrano rose slowly during the bout and headed off the ice for concussion protocol (and likely some additional fixin’).

While Schaller’s Justice was served and five-minute fighting majors were issued, Gudbranson also received a major boarding penalty and a game misconduct, ending his evening. Virtanen served the major, and the Bruins embarked on quite a scoring spree. Feel free to scroll back up and rewatch these, because all of them have their own beauty to behold.

David Pastrnak collects the puck from behind Anton Khudobin and carries the puck through center ice, deking one Vancouver forward and slipping through Michael Del Zotto like the world’s dangliest piece of linguini, sneaking a short-range wrister through Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson. Khudobin should have earned the assist - and, according to Dobby post-game, Pastrnak will be advocating the case to the league himself.

One more time, slow-mo, for the kids:

Now THAT’S a $6.667M bowl of spaghetti.

But wait, that was a major, you said? There’s still more powerplay glory to be had, there is? Anders Bjork loves scoring goals, he does?

The powerplay still isn’t over, no? David Krejci, what do you have to say for yourself?

Thanks, Erik!

This would chase Nilsson from the Vancouver net, bringing in Jacob Markstrom for the remainder of the game. B’s coach Bruce Cassidy reflected fondly on this powerplay in his postgame interviews, as well he should. Being able to capitalize on a powerplay opportunity is a great way to win more games. Capitalizing on one three times - well, that’s just AWESOME. What else is awesome? Patrice scoring two assists in the first period of his first game.

A penalty each to Bjork and Del Zotto prevented the rest of this period from getting much more interesting, with the exception of Bjork getting a breakaway chance coming out of the box.

Until, of course, Derek Dorsett decides he needs some facial rearrangement. Or, to spark his team. I really don’t know what he was thinking charging Kevan Miller like that... it’s like playing chicken with a T bus.

That just about wraps things up. FOR THE FIRST PERIOD.

Second Period

Bjork comes out buzzing, getting a short-side shot close enough to make Markstrom sweat. The kid looks like he’s going to chase that hat trick through the gates of Hell. Dobby is squaring up well, perhaps enjoying a bit of the relaxation the rest of the team is beginning to show. The powerplay gets another chance, though no luck this time.

Bjork’s strong shifts just keep coming - he reads play well, makes quick changes on his feet look almost too easy, and certainly has benefited from Bergeron’s return to the lineup. Bjork makes a quick pivot to face the puck in the corner, jumps in to support Bergeron, and feeds Brad Marchand at the hash marks. Little Ball of Elite busts the cookie jar. Bjork and Bergie get the helpers - THREE POINTS FOR PATRICE!

Following a penalty to Kenny Agostino with just under 5 minutes left in the period, Vancouver mounts a serious counterattack. Two goals are scored by the Canucks in quick succession with about four minutes remaining, on the powerplay by Thomas Vanek and at even-strength not a minute later by Bo Horvat, both through heavy traffic. Krejci heads down the tunnel and would not return to the game, dealing a blow to the powerplay unit. Fortunately, no more pucks end up in the Bruins’ net. Unfortunately, Chuckie decides to take another dumb penalty after the horn sounds. The Garden was a bit quiet heading into the intermission.

Third Period

With said dumb penalty, the Bruins began the third on the penalty kill, yet managing to hold off any sustained attack for more than a few passes in the zone. At the other end, McQuaid blocked two shots in a row - one off a shin pad that looked like it stung, which is no big deal to him; the second, however, looked like it was in the side of the shin down around the ankle, where there is very little protection. I don’t know that I could do that for $2.75 million per year. Here’s hoping it’s a basic bruise like last time.

Brad Marchand took a slashing penalty that looked a bit exaggerated by Derrick Pouliot, whose lower hand was off his stick - and when Brad whacked at the stick, definitely high enough to hit Pouliot’s hand were it on the stick, it appeared Pouliot waved his free hand as if it had been hit. Eh, a good sell, I guess, but Marchand was furious, slamming his stick against the ice. The B’s penalty kill had continued success by getting the puck deep and landing checks in the corners.

A few minutes pass with some increasing effort from the Bruins, with Pastrnak drawing a penalty on Alex Burmistrov for interference. On the ensuing power play, Prince Patrice would find the twine off a great feed from Pastrnak. Marchand picked up the secondary, which puts the Bruins up 6-3, the PP a healthy 4 of 8, and the total points for the 110% line up to ten. TEN POINTS.

With the period winding down and his team losing by several goals, Dorsett uncorked and went off on the Bruins, crosschecking Marchand and barking his way down the tunnel after a game misconduct penalty. As the last few minutes ticked away, Bjork picked up a few more shifts, but without luck - the hat trick will have to wait for another night.

Takeaways

With the top two grinding centers back in the lineup in Bergeron and Backes, the Bruins were winning many more puck battles; and, that in turn encouraged wingers to pitch in a bit more to support without compromising their positioning.

Less encouraging was the loss of discipline just beyond the midway point of the second period. Perhaps fatigue was setting in - and for the stars coming back from injury, that might be forgiven - which allowed Vancouver, one of the worst teams in the league at the moment, to take a serious bite out of a four-goal lead. The Bruins also allowed them to remain in the game with ample scoring chances; the teams were tied with 21 5v5 chances apiece, and the B’s weren’t ahead by much overall. If it weren’t for the special teams play in the first period, the third might’ve been a much different story. The Bruins need to be a much more difficult challenge at even strength in order to really put together a few strings of wins before the holidays. This task falls to the rest of the team now that they have their example-setting players back in the lineup.