LAS VEGAS - The Bruins' inaugural trip to Las Vegas was not as fun as they had hoped.
Boston struggled to create much offensively, while surrendering back-to-back goals late in the second period, in a 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights in the teams' first-ever meeting at T-Mobile Arena.
The Bruins landed just 21 shots on goal, with only a handful of strong scoring opportunities, a night after they blitzed the Coyotes for six goals in a convincing victory in Arizona. Boston also missed the net on 12 attempts and had 10 shots blocked
"We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck," said Brad Marchand, who landed a team-high three shots on goal. "Weren't directing enough pucks to the net which makes it tough to get there, you can't get rebounds."
Ex-Bruin Malcolm Subban made his first start for the Golden Knights after ace Marc-Ander Fleury was placed on injured reserved with a concussion. The former first-round pick made 20 saves to pick up his first career victory.
Boston praised the play of their former teammate, but was left lamenting a lack of assertiveness in the offensive end.
"He was good," said Torey Krug. "He obviously showed up and had a shutout for almost the whole game. I still don't think we made it difficult on him. He's a great goaltender, a really skilled talent and he held up his end."
Video: The Bruins react after a 3-1 Loss to VGK
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy wanted to see his team shoot more to create rebounds and second chances around the net.
"We turned down chances to shoot - there weren't that many," said Cassidy. "We were off net on some, we can generate some rebounds. We talked about that. We know Malcolm well. We know he's a good first shot goaltender and we wanted to put some stress on him and make him uncomfortable and I don't think we did a very good job of that.
"We obviously needed more urgency to create more offense."
Vegas opened up a 2-0 lead with a strong second period. Alex Tuch and Vadim Shipachyov, both recalled over the last couple of days because of injuries, scored the first goals of their careers in their first games as Golden Knights.
Tuch, a Boston College product, opened the scoring with 5:21 remaining in the second, capitalizing on a Bruins turnover in the neutral zone with a snipe over the glove of Tuukka Rask (23 saves).
Video: BOS@VGK: Rask makes consecutive stops late in the 1st
Shipachyov, making his NHL debut, doubled the lead just over three minutes later when he potted one from the top of the crease.
Despite the tough three-minute stretch, Cassidy was fairly pleased with his team's defensive effort.
"Defensively we were OK," said Cassidy. "I thought we were playing a solid, stout defensive game. You can't score every game, scoring six goals like we did last night. You've got to win some games 2-1 and 3-2."
David Pastrnak gave the Bruins a sliver of hope when he banked home his third of the season from behind the net with 30 seconds to play to pull the Bruins within a goal, but Oscar Lindberg responded with an empty-netter just 16 seconds later to put Vegas ahead 3-1 and seal the victory.
"We've seen flashes of what we can do and what's been working for us but we weren't committed to that full time tonight," said Krug. "We just weren't committed to it for 60 minutes. We were looking for plays that weren't there and weren't taking our shots when we could."
Video: BOS@VGK: Pastrnak banks puck in off opponent's skate
Spooner, Mcquaid Injured
Ryan Spooner left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return, while Adam McQuaid took a Colin Miller shot to the inside of the knee in the closing minutes of the game and needed assistance getting back to the dressing room.
Cassidy said McQuaid would be re-assessed over the next couple of days.
Patrice Bergeron did not play on Sunday and has now sat out all five games this season with a lower-body injury. Cassidy, however, is encouraged by Bergeron's progress and said the center should be closer to a return Thursday against Vancouver at TD Garden.
"There's good progression there," said Cassidy. "I sound like a broken record, but there really is. With now three, four days before our next game, I'd anticipate that he'll be a lot closer Thursday than he probably was at the start of this trip."
Vatrano Subs In
After sitting as a healthy scratch against Arizona, Frank Vatrano subbed back in for Austin Czarnik on the right wing alongside Matt Beleskey and Sean Kuraly. Vatrano was a minus-1 in 8 minutes, 42 seconds of ice time.
"Frank is a good player for us," said Cassidy. "Part of [sitting him out Saturday] was, 'Hey, go upstairs, watch the game, take something from it. Back-to-back games you want to make sure you have a level of energy. One player is not gonna turn the tide on that, but Frankie definitely brings foot speed and the ability to score.
"Just up there watching the game, hopefully he learns a little bit about the all-around game and how to play away from the puck.
"Czarnik was fine, but he's a role player right now. He may get back in the lineup. When he does, he'll have to keep pushing to get a permanent status. That's the decision right now"