The Bruins were on a nine-day break since their preseason finale, causing minds and hearts to sag.
Their opponent, Dallas, is well-known for limiting the defensive zone. It was difficult to overlook how much career success the visiting netminder, Braden Holtby, has had against Boston.
So the Bruins' first win of the year, a 3-1 win over the Stars, was nothing special. They skated hard, won puck races, and repaid when they could.
Just simple hockey this time of year, said coach Bruce Cassidy. Speed and tenacity.
Brad Marchand scored twice, once on a penalty shot and once into an empty net in the final minutes. Jake DeBrusk, who is preparing for what everyone in Black and Gold hopes will be a great comeback season, gave the Bruins the lead in the third period by scoring.
Jeremy Swayman, playing his 11th career game (not including one in last years second round against the Islanders), stopped 24 of 25 shots. Luke Glendening scored from the slot after a too-long shift in the second period that saw the Alaskan lose.
Cassidy probably didnt have a lot to worry about other than that, and sloppy play that put them on the penalty kill six times (6 for 6). Holtby (37 saves) made 40 of 63 attempts on Holthby, who all but owned the Bruins during his tenure as Capital. He was good enough to win Saturday.
DeBrusk made it a point to get into the middle of the ice because of he won 'a footrace to slap. Debruskin came out on top early in the second, after grabbing edging to an untimed puck in Dallas offensive zone. Erik Haula picked up the biscuit and fed a centering feed to Nick Foligno, and DeBrusk was there when the high-speed pass bounced off the winger.
DeBrusk had a good camp and carried that on to Saturday. Cassidy noted how he got lost in the second period with some of the penalty kills, describing how Cassiidyes "got caught in a tumultuous process" He stayed on his feet and was active in the game. Thats a sign of being able to work hard. There's a degree of maturity there. As a result, I tried to incorporate their point sporadic in the third.
The Garden was humming, as usual, for the Garden's first home opener since 2017. Marchand made the game explode with 2:22 left in the first, turning a penalty shot to score Boston's first goal of 2021-22. Winding up from deep in his zone, he collected the puck with speed and beat Holtby blocker side from between the hashes.
Marchand would deke, DeBrusk said, the talk on the bench. I thought he was going five-hole, a friend of his said. I thought he was going backhand, five-hole.
Marchand made the call at the last second.
Marchand, who whiffed on a deciding shootout attempt against Philadelphia in March 2020, putting the puck at center ice, later admitted, The only thing I was thinking was dont miss it.
Thats a lot of pressure in the home opener, DeBrusk said. I think we can all agree that Marchys stick was good, he said.
David Pastrnak, the newly minted alternate captain, earned the penalty shot after picking off a Roope Hintz outlet outside the blue line, allowing his reload just long enough for Pastramnk to tag up. Ryan Suter broke for the slot, where he held his stick.
Simple, hard, intelligent hockey, the kind that kicks off the season right. The summer rages on, and training camp roars along.
It almost felt like you had to go through summer twice, Marchand said. It just kept going. We love to get back and see the team we have and be in front of a crowd again. This year, its a lot more normal. A little nerve-wracking. Had butterflies. It was a great time.
The Bruins were hitting the Stars in shots (28-14) through 40 minutes, but one poor shift left the game tied at 1.
Bostons second line coughed up the equalizer at 9:15 of the second, after soft plays had them out for a 1-minute, 34-second shift. Taylor Hall, Craig Smith, and Charlie Coyle, who couldnt clear the zone against the Stars fourth line, didnu get enough juice. After Smith couldnt get a pass out of the zone, Tanner Kero beat Halls check and fed an unmarked Glendening, who had time to load up and beat Swayman from the slot.
Glendening was left without a defender following Cassidy's comments. The guys got a little tired, he added.
Swayman, who improved to 5-0-0 with a.953 save percentage at TD Garden, didn't have terribly much to worry about.
I usually scan it and forget about it, he added. When it comes in, you'll know what you did wrong immediately and will focus on the next shot.
He was upbeat afterward, grinning and soaking in the magnitude of becoming the first rookie netminder to start a Bruins season opener since Blaine Lacher in 1995.
He was helpful. Cassidy said he got hit on a clean shot. He looked great after that.
He's ok. Hes done it for us almost every time hed played. Were beginning to expect that, and thats a good thing.
Matt Porter is available at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.