For the first time in franchise history, the Vegas Golden Knights won at TD Garden– beating the Boston Bruins, 4-1, in the process on Tuesday night as Max Pacioretty scored a pair of goals in the effort.
Robin Lehner (12-9-0, 3.05 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in 22 games played) made 23 saves on 24 shots against in the win for Vegas.
Boston goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (7-5-2, 2.29 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 14 games played) stopped 21 out of 25 shots faced in the loss.
The Bruins fell to 14-9-2 (30 points) overall and dropped to 5th in the Atlantic Division, while the Golden Knights improved to 17-11-0 (34 points) on the season and moved up to 3rd in the Pacific Division.
The B’s are now 5-2-0 in seven games against Vegas all-time, having last met each other in the 2019-20 regular season due to the temporarily realigned divisions and condensed 56-game schedule last season.
Brandon Carlo and Tomáš Nosek returned to the lineup for Boston on Tuesday night after Carlo missed a pair of games due to a lower body injury sustained on Dec. 8th in Vancouver and Nosek missed three games due to a non-COVID related illness.
Though Carlo and Nosek returned, Brad Marchand and Craig Smith were placed in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol hours ahead of Tuesday’s game against Vegas.
Marchand and Smith joined Jakub Zboril (lower body) on the short list of players out of the lineup due to illness or injury.
Meanwhile, Jack Studnicka and Oskar Steen were recalled on an emergency basis from the Providence Bruins (AHL) with Marchand and Smith out.
Jack Ahcan was reassigned to Providence on Monday in preparation for Carlo’s return.
As a result of the numerous roster transaction, B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy– who returned from the league’s COVID protocol himself after testing positive, suffering mild symptoms and missing the last six games– adjusted his lines and defensive pairings accordingly.
Taylor Hall was promoted to the first line left wing in place of Marchand with Erik Haula and Nick Foligno flanking Charlie Coyle on the second line left and right wings, respectively.
Nosek centered the third line with Jake DeBrusk to his left and Karson Kuhlman on his right side, while the fourth line remained intact from Saturday night’s, 4-2, victory in Calgary.
On defense, Cassidy slid John Moore down to Mike Reilly’s usual role on the third pairing– scratching Reilly in the process– and re-inserting Carlo into his usual spot on the right side of the second pairing– returning Matt Grzelcyk to his natural hand in the process alongside Carlo.
Reilly joined Steen and Studnicka in the press box as Boston’s trio of healthy scratches on Tuesday.
Early in the action, Brett Howden held Patrice Bergeron’s stick and was assessed a minor infraction as a result, yielding the night’s first power play to the Bruins at 5:29 of the first period.
Boston couldn’t convert on the skater advantage, however– their only power play of the entire evening.
Midway through the opening frame, Shea Theodore (4) rocketed an errant blast from the point off of Derek Forbort’s back and over Swayman’s shoulder on the blocker side for the game’s first goal.
Ben Hutton (3) and Chandler Stephenson (18) tallied the assists as the Golden Knights pulled ahead, 1-0, at 13:04.
Vegas added another goal 2:15 later after Mark Stone sent an indirect pass off the boards up to Stephenson in the neutral zone before Stephenson fed Pacioretty with a tape-to-tape lead pass into the Golden Knights’ attacking zone.
Pacioretty (11) raced towards Swayman on a breakaway and sent the puck past the low glove to extend Vegas’ lead to two-goals.
Stephenson (19) and Stone (16) notched the assists as the Golden Knights pulled ahead, 2-0, at 15:19 of the first period.
Late in the period, Moore caught Reilly Smith with a high stick and cut a rut to the sin bin at 19:41.
It didn’t take long for Vegas to capitalize on the skater advantage, as well as another wrong place, wrong time circumstance for the Bruins as Jonathan Marchessault (12) sent a shot off of a Boston skater that squibbed through Swayman’s five-hole to make it, 3-0, for the Golden Knights at 19:59.
Alex Pietrangelo (15) and Smith (11) had the assists on Marchessault’s power-play goal as time just about expired in the first period.
Smith– a former Bruin– recorded his 400th career NHL point as a result of the secondary assist and Vegas entered the first intermission with a, 3-0, lead on the scoreboard, as well as a, 10-7, advantage in shots on net.
The Golden Knights also led in takeaways (6-3) and giveaways (5-2), while the Bruins dominated in hits (13-6) and faceoff win percentage (65-35).
Both teams had four blocked shots each, while Vegas was 1/1 on the power play and Boston was 0/1.
Early in the middle frame, Pacioretty (12) received a pass from Stone, spun and flung the rubber biscuit towards the net where it beat Swayman on the blocker side as Theodore skated through the slot as a screen.
Stone (17) and Stephenson (20) had the assists on Pacioretty’s second goal of the game as the Golden Knights extended their lead to, 4-0, at 5:06 of the second period.
There were no more goals thereafter and no penalties called in the middle frame, so Vegas took a, 4-0, lead into the second intermission.
The Golden Knights also led in shots on goal, 18-16, despite trailing Boston, 9-8, in shots on net in the second period alone.
Vegas led in blocked shots (9-8), takeaways (9-6) and giveaways (8-3), while the Bruins held the advantage in hits (29-15) and faceoff win% (61-39).
As there were no more penalties called, the Golden Knights finished the night 1/1 on the power play, while the B’s went 0/1.
The fans at TD Garden had little to cheer about all night as a result of a lackluster effort from Boston (though the Bruins were technically without their leading scorer with Marchand in COVID protocol).
But fans in attendance got their money’s worth from Bergeron (10) as Hall setup the B’s captain with a pass from the trapezoid to Bergeron’s standard bumper area for a one-timer goal 21 seconds into the third period.
Hall (9) had the only assist on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins trailed, 4-1.
With 2:45 remaining in the action, Cassidy pulled Swayman for an extra attacker, but briefly returned the Boston netminder to the crease for a defensive zone faceoff with a pair of minutes remaining in the game (Swayman vacated the net once again after the Bruins won the draw).
At the final horn, Vegas had beaten Boston, 4-1, on the road and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 25-24, despite the Bruins outshooting the Golden Knights, 8-7, in the third period alone.
Vegas exited TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (14-12) and giveaways (11-4), while Boston left their own ice leading in hits (38-20) and faceoff win% (60-40).
The B’s fell to 4-5-2 (3-3-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-4-1 (2-2-1 at home) when trailing after one and 2-6-2 (2-3-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.
The Golden Knights improved to 11-5-0 (5-3-0 on the road) when scoring first, 8-1-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 12-0-0 (6-0-0 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.
Boston hits the road for their next three games with stops on Long Island, in Montréal and in Ottawa as they’ll face the New York Islanders, Montréal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.