LAS VEGAS - For the first time this season, the Bruins were facing a bit of adversity.
Buried in a quick two-goal hole on Tuesday night, the Black & Gold could have scoffed at the thought of bearing down for an early-season comeback in hostile territory, against a team that many believe can challenge for the Stanley Cup.
Such an approach, however, is not in their DNA. Boston was instead undeterred by the early deficit and, behind a stellar effort from its top line, surged back for a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena to improve to 3-0-0 for the first time since 2001-02.
"Obviously being down early, being able to come back, winning a close game at the end, pushing them off a little bit at the end," said Torey Krug, who notched the eventual winner with a blistering slapper at 2:27 of the second, "those are just experiences that we'll put in our pocket and use for another day."
Video: Marchand's two goals leads Bruins past Golden Knights
They were experiences that this group has been through time and time again over the years. And in so many of those instances, it was the Bruins' top trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak that kickstarted the team's resurgence.
That was no different on Tuesday, as Boston's leading triumvirate combined for seven points and three goals, including Pastrnak's first of the year midway through the opening period that spurred the comeback.
"I actually thought we started on time, we just got down a couple quickly," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "We fought back. The top line was excellent. We checked well as the game went on. We got pucks back in their end. I thought our forecheck was very good tonight...we didn't have a lot of O-zone time the first couple games, we were much better tonight."
Pastrnak's marker began with a textbook Bergeron forecheck as he interrupted a Deryk Engelland clearing attempt with a strong stick along the boards. Bergeron then dished the puck to Marchand, who found Pastrnak surging through the slot, where the winger tapped one by Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at 11:21 of the first to pull Boston within 2-1.
"That was a good reload by Bergeron - our forecheck, turnover. I thought that was a strength of our game," said Cassidy. "Those guys can make plays when they get pucks back. It's a big goal for us. We're down 2-0 in the first period, you don't know which way it's gonna go. You think this might be the game they're gonna hand it to us, but we were able to stop the bleeding there…I think that goal really helped us get going."
Video: BOS@VGK: Pastrnak nets Marchand's pretty feed
Marchand, who had the lone goal in Boston's 1-0 victory in Arizona on Saturday night, finished the night with two more tallies, just seconds apart - one late in the first period and another just seconds into the middle frame.
The winger picked up his first of the night with 1:02 remaining in the first following some strong puck movement on Boston's power play. Krug (goal, assist) collected a loose puck at the blue line, before zipping a feed to Pastrnak (goal, two assists) down in the corner. Pastrnak then quickly moved the puck to Marchand, who let go a one-timer that trickled past Fleury to tie the game at 2.
"I actually think we were playing better than they were at the start, but they just capitalized on their two opportunities," said Marchand. "We just kept playing the same way…we're a resilient team, we've shown that many times. There's a lot of experience in here. We kept going. The game was far from over."
Marchand was right back at it to start the second, putting the Bruins in the lead for the first time. Zdeno Chara began the sequence by swatting down a Vegas dump-in attempt just inside the Bruins' blue line. Pastrnak corralled the puck and banked a long-distance pass off the boards into the neutral zone. Marchand grabbed the puck and ripped a wrister by the glove of Fleury for a 3-2 Bruins advantage just 33 seconds into the second.
"Now all of a sudden you're in the lead. Our team's pretty good that way," said Cassidy. "They know how to play the right way, how to play winning hockey when they're supposed to."
Video: BOS@VGK: Marchand pots wrister for second goal
The Bruins did just that as they continued to push, securing an insurance marker just 1:54 after Marchand's second of the night. This time, it was Boston's fourth line that did the heavy lifting in Vegas' offensive end. David Backes, back in the lineup after sitting out as a healthy scratch in Arizona, wreaked havoc with a strong forecheck that eventually freed a puck into the slot for Sean Kuraly, who fed Brandon Carlo at the right point.
Carlo whipped a pass across the blue line to Krug, who took a couple of strides toward the top of the left circle before unleashing a slapper that deflected off of Vegas forward Ryan Reaves' stick and by Fleury for a 4-2 lead.
"It's a trickle-down effect from our leaders," Krug said of the team's comeback. "When you see them doing it on a daily basis, not just in games but in practice as well…we see it every day in practice. That's why it shows up in games."
Wait, There's More
- Tuukka Rask needed assistance getting off the ice after the final buzzer sounded, but following the game said he "was just cramping…I'm good." Rask, who made 31 saves on 34 shots, said the Vegas heat was most likely a factor.
- Matt Grzelcyk was also banged up after blocking a shot early in the first period. The blue liner missed most of the frame but returned in the second and played 11:44 for the night. Cassidy said Grzelcyk had an X-ray, but "he's fine. Just a matter of pain tolerance."
- According to NHL Public Relations, the Bruins have now won the first three games of a season-opening road trip for the first time in team history. "It's not too long since we last played together," Rask said of the short summer. "I think we have pretty much the same group and we know the system and it helps. Added a couple guys but I think we're feeling comfortable playing together. Even though we were down a couple goals, we trust the system and it worked out today."
- Boston allowed just seven shots in the third period, with Vegas converting on a power-play with 5:18 left. "That third period was the way we want to play with the lead," said Rask. "They didn't have anything, we didn't give them an inch. That's how you win in this league. When you gain a lead, you have to protect it in the right way and we did."
Video: Cassidy speaks after Bruins win