EditorsNote: Add Gudbranson hearing with NHL player safety
Bergeron returns, guides Bruins past Canucks
BOSTON — It’s no secret what Patrice Bergeron means to the Boston Bruins, both on and off the ice.
On Thursday night, in his first game of the season, the veteran center, who missed the first five games with a lower-body injury, dominated with a goal and three assists, leading Boston to a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
“As much as anything, on the bench and in the room, (he provides) those intangibles — leadership,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after his team evened its record at 3-3-0 in the opener of a four-game homestand.
Zdeno Chara is the long-time Bruins captain, but Bergeron is the vocal leader, Cassidy talking about how the slick center was standing on the bench from the start of the game telling the players where they should be.
“Stuff that coaches preach a lot that goes in one ear and out the other sometimes, sometimes when they hear it from a leader of the group it means so much more,” Cassidy said. “To have that back in the room as well as well as David (Backes, who also returned) — they’re vocal players that are players that bring that aspect to the room.”
With the four-point game, the fifth game of his career with at least four, Bergeron moved past Ken Hodge into seventh place on the Bruins’ all-time scoring list. His most recent four-point game (his record is five, all assists, in a 2006 game) came Feb. 9 — Cassidy’s first game as the Bruins’ interim coach.
Thursday’s heroics occurred in his 900th NHL game.
“It’s hard no matter what it is,” Bergeron said of his absence. “When you’re missing games, when you’re missing time ... you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team, so you know, it’s good to be back.”
Playing with Bergeron, rookie Anders Bjork had two goals and an assist. Brad Marchand, the third member of the line, had a goal and two assists, and David Krejci and David Pastrnak both posted a goal and an assist.
Krejci had to leave after two periods with an upper-body injury, and Boston’s Adam McQuaid left after blocking a shot late in the game. Krejci sustained what was called a spasm, but it didn’t appear serious.
“He wasn’t feeling too terrific today ... I think there was a cross-check there,” Cassidy said. “So, he tried it, couldn’t continue. I think he had some spasms. But I don’t think there’s anything long-term there at all.”
Boston scored three goals on the same five-minute power play in the first period after Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson received a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding Frank Vatrano. That turned a 1-1 game into a 4-1 affair in just 97 seconds.
Gudbranson will have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Friday regarding the hit.
The Bruins made it 5-1 before the Canucks (2-3-1) came back with two goals in 34 seconds late in the second period.
However, Bergeron scored at 11:53 of the third period to ice the win. He converted a Pastrnak pass into a virtually open net behind goalie Jacob Markstrom, who replaced Anders Nilsson after the fourth goal — and the 17th consecutive shot by the Bruins over a 7 1/2-minute span.
The Bruins finished 4-for-8 on the power play.
“Our penalty kill wasn’t great tonight,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “Any time you give up four goals on the power play on the road, you’re not going to win too many hockey games.”
Derek Dorsett, Thomas Vanek and Bo Horvat scored for the Canucks against Anton Khudobin, in goal for Boston with Tuukka Rask in the concussion protocol and out of the lineup.
Khudobin made 26 saves to raise his record to 2-0-0 on the season.
Bjork scored his second and third goals of the season and had a breakaway later in the first period but shot the puck wide.
The Pastrnak goal came on a Bobby Orr-like rush that happened to come on the 51st anniversary of Orr’s first game in the NHL.
“Someone’s got to slow him down at some point,” Green said.
Vanek, a career Bruins killer, has 33 goals and 67 points in 62 games against Boston.
NOTES: The Bruins placed C Ryan Spooner (groin) on injured reserve and activated RW David Backes (diverticulitis) from IR and sent LW Peter Cehlarik back to AHL Providence, a day after he was recalled. ... The Bruins recalled G Zane McIntyre to back up Anton Khudobin. ... LW Kenny Agostino, just recalled, made his Bruins debut and had an assist. ... The Canucks were missing RW Loui Eriksson, a former Bruin who is on IR with a knee injury. ... G Anders Nilsson’s shutout at Ottawa was only the third ever by a Canuck in his debut with the team — Mike Fountain (1993) and Johan Hedberg (2003) with the others. ... Bruins LW Tim Schaller played in his 100th NHL game and had a fight after C Frank Vatrano was boarded by D Erik Gudbranson.