LAS VEGAS — Bruce Cassidy may have already gotten the last laugh with the Bruins by winning the Stanley Cup in his first season with the Golden Knights after his firing in Boston. Especially considering the fact that the Bruins themselves suffered a postseason collapse after a historic regular season. But make no mistake, Bruce Cassidy wanted this win too and his guys certainly wanted it for him.
“I love to beat the Bruins”, Cassidy joked with the media after the game.
Bruce and the boys got to keep on laughing on Thursday night. Well, probably not actually. The Golden Knights won a 2-1 overtime thriller, but it came amidst a few major injury scares and plenty of anxiety. It felt like the Knights were lucky to make it out of this one without suffering a catastrophic blow to their health, much less a win. That doesn’t take away from how important a win it was though in terms of holding ground in the Pacific Division.
After the game, Cassidy paid his respects to Bill Belichick’s legendary career in New England and talked about his time as one of Belichick’s New England-area coaching counterparts.
“What I learned from him? We talked at length before the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 against the Blues, not about individual players but it was about the details and grind of the game,” Cassidy shared with the media. He continued, “It was a lot about not beating yourself. He talked about the line of scrimmage and taking care of the football. That’s puck management to me.”
How it happened
The first twenty minutes passed without any scoring, but don’t mistake that for a boring period. Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman put together a highlight reel of stops in the first, including a brilliant save with nine minutes remaining in the period that robbed Chandler Stephenson of a goal. Logan Thompson was impressive in his own right, stopping eight Bruins shots while withstanding a rush from the B’s that is simply one of the most dangerous in the league.
The second period went without a goal as well, but it was still a cause of cardiac concerns for Knight’s fans. Just over four minutes into the period, Jack Eichel went down as he lost a skate blade and was helped to the bench by his teammates. What at first seemed like an innocuous equipment malfunction turned into something far more panic-inducing for the Knight’s and their fans, as Eichel was soon helped down the tunnel with what was clearly a lower-body injury. Until Eichel made his way back to the ice at the tail end of the period, #VegasBorn social feeds were in a state of panic. For good reason, as the initial replay review didn’t look good in itself.
While Eichel was being treated in the locker room and fans were already in a tizzy, the dire injury situation appeared to take another turn for the worse when Mark Stone took a puck to the hand and had to be helped to the locker room himself. Keep in mind that as Stone was making his way down the tunnel, thoughts of the worst case scenario were starting to surface in regards to Eichel’s situation.
Eichel’s return to the bench brought a sigh of relief to the T-Mobile Arena crowd, and the state of anxiety was relieved as Eichel made his way onto the ice for the power play opportunity with under four minutes to go in the period.
Chaos continued to reign in the third period, but this time it brought a few goals along with it too. With 12:59 remaining in the game, Jack Eichel lit up T-Mobile Arena with a power play goal to open the scoring after a 47 minute stalemate. The loud cheer of elation in T-Mobile Arena was mixed with a hint of relief, as the goal also assured the crowd that the most valuable Golden Knight was just fine.
Those cheers of elation and relief soon turned into a collective sigh. With just under eight minutes remaining, the Bruins broke through and evened things at one thanks to a deflection into the net that was credited to Matt Grzelcyk.
The Knights were pounding at the Bruins doorstep with just over two minutes remaining when Swayman submitted his bid for the save of the year, extending his legs to block an Ivan Barbashev slap shot with what is known in hockey circles as a scorpion save.
Thanks to Swayman’s extended leg, we went to overtime. Unfortunately for the visitors, the extra period was brief. The Knights were able to force a 2 on 1 break, where Mark Stone connected with Alex Pietrangelo who buried the goal and sent T-Mobile Arena into hysterics.
The Golden Knights are at home again on Saturday night. Puck drop against the Calgary Flames is set for 7 p.m. local time at T-Mobile Arena.