BOSTON - Bruce Cassidy let his concerns be known heading into the Bruins' home opener.
Following a loss in Colorado to end their season-opening road trip, the B's arrived back in Boston slightly before sunrise on Friday morning. Just over 24 hours later they were back on the ice for a pregame skate at TD Garden. And Cassidy wasn't exactly thrilled with what he saw.
"I don't think we're up to speed yet - I'll be perfectly honest," Cassidy said on Saturday morning. "I think guys are still adjusting to the time change, getting back at 7 in the morning, getting their feet under them today. It will be a challenge for us to get an on-time start."
The Bruins looked anything but fatigued, as they buzzed from the beginning, potting two first-period goals - one each from Brad Marchand and Joakim Nordstrom - en route to a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.
"That was probably our strongest part of the game today, we started good," said Tuukka Rask, who made 31 stops for his first shutout of the season. "And you know what, you never know after a long trip and a tough flight, landing at 6 [a.m. on Friday]. It can go either way.
"But I think that we have enough experience that we know how to deal with that. We showed up today, gotta get your legs going and try to get a goal or two and that happened today, so it was very good."
Video: Rask, Marchand lead Bruins' shutout win vs. Devils
The victory propelled the Bruins to their fourth victory in five games to start the 2019-20 campaign, a quick start - both for the year and the game - that they credit to the team's cohesiveness and familiarity.
"It helps having pretty much the entire group from last year - a couple new guys - but for the most part we're the same and it makes it very easy to find chemistry and to just roll back into the season and keep going," said Marchand, who notched his 300th career assist on Patrice Bergeron's second-period power-play marker.
"That's kind of been our mentality, let's just keep the ball rolling. We know we compete hard, we know we have a good group and we're well conditioned...it's been very easy, again, because we have pretty much our whole group together."
Boston outshot the Devils, 15-10, in the opening 20 minutes, converting for two even-strength tallies in the first 11-plus minutes of the game to open up a 2-0 advantage. Marchand got things going, continuing a torrid stretch with his fourth goal of the season just 3:33 into the contest, a long-distance wrister from the top of the slot that deflected by Cory Schneider to put the Bruins on top early.
"He's on right now," Cassidy said of Marchand, who extended his points streak to four games. "That line seems to be clicking like we've seen them typically…our offense is coming to form now, I'd say, probably since Vegas. Colorado was good, and tonight we certainly had good opportunities as well."
The Bruins doubled their lead at 11:22 of the first when Joakim Nordstrom picked up his first goal of the season, connecting with fellow fourth liners Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner off a faceoff win to whack one by Schneider for a 2-0 advantage.
"They did what they typically do, which is play against good players, manage the puck, check well to get it back, long shots, killed penalties," said Cassidy. "They were able to chip in offensively - I think it picks everybody up on the team when they get rewarded because they do a lot of the grunt work, rarely see the power play. When they get opportunities to finish, I think it picks up our team."
Video: NJD@BOS: Nordstrom cleans up in front to double lead
Shutting The Door
Tuukka Rask stopped all 31 shots he faced to secure his first shutout of the season and the 46th of his career. The netminder, who made 25 of his saves over the first two periods, improved to 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals against average and .957 save percentage. For the season, Boston has allowed just eight goals in five games.
"We're still working on our game like every other team, and I thought that's where Tuukka really stepped up and that's when he should get the credit," said Cassidy. "In a game like this, I thought that's when he earned his paycheck tonight…we broke down a lot there trying to break pucks out and had some loose play, and he was really good."
Video: NJD@BOS: Rask makes 31 saves in Bruins' 3-0 home win
Bergeron added some insurance with his first goal of the season, a power-play tally with just 46 seconds left in the second period. In addition to Marchand's 300th career helper, Jake DeBrusk also picked up an assist on the play for his first point of the season.
"They're dirty men those two," Marchand joked. "They did a great job battling and that was a big goal, going into the third with a 3-0 lead. That's tough to climb back from in the third period but... going in we knew there was only [1:01] left in the period so we wanted to get something at the net, create a little havoc. Luckily Bergy and Jake did a great job at finishing it off."
Video: NJD@BOS: Bergeron pokes home rebound on power play