The Bruins displayed their appreciation for former coach Bruce Cassidy with a tribute video on the jumbotron, and by arriving late for Monday’s game.
They showed up about halfway through, but were not strong enough to extend their NHL record home start.
The Bruins (20-3-1) saw their 14-game winning streak at TD Garden end on Monday with a 4-3 shootout loss, ex-Bruin Reilly Smith providing the winner on Vegas’ fifth attempt.
The jumbotron tribute and resulting ovation from fans got Cassidy choked up. He shrugged off the fact he halted his former employer’s run of success.
“Now that you brought it up … I’m used to hearing ‘Dirty Water’ at the end of the game,” Cassidy said. “I’m glad I didn’t hear it tonight. Anyway, yeah — no, the streak is really irrelevant to me. It’s just nice to come in and play well.”
They fell down by three goals at home for the first time in 15 home games, before clawing back to 3-2 by the second intermission. They outshot Vegas, 29-15, over the final two periods.
“We didn’t start on time. That’s unfortunate,” coach Jim Montgomery said. “We got beat through the middle of the ice too often tonight. That usually doesn’t happen to us.”
Taylor Hall, who continues to be a two-way force, tied the game with a power-play goal at 3:08 of the third.
The Bruins mostly controlled the play from there, but turnovers on their most promising opportunities helped push it to overtime.
Logan Thompson, the right-catching Vegas netminder, snared Charlie McAvoy’s laser on the rush in the first minute, part of a 6-1 shots advantage for the Bruins.
Jake DeBrusk drew a slashing penalty at 1:58 of extras, but the Bruins couldn’t convert. He also hit the post in the shootout.
Brad Marchand put Boston on the board with a tap-in of Patrice Bergeron’s centering feed at 13:46 of the second, giving both the home crowd and Black and Gold forecheck a jolt of energy.
Bergeron was at it again with time running out in the period, leaving a puck along the wall for David Pastrnak. No. 88 spun off William Karlsson’s check, the Vegas forward sliding out of the play, before collecting the puck and ripping it past Thompson (40 saves).
Afterward, Cassidy chatted with Bergeron outside the visitors’ dressing room. The two didn’t have a chance to connect after Cassidy was fired June 6.
“We were just sharing some thoughts on each other and our time together,” Cassidy said. “Means a lot to me. I have a tremendous amount of respect for pretty much every guy in that locker room. They play hard. Some of them worked out better than others — and whatever the narrative is, every player in there, I worked hard with to get better. I have a lot of respect for every one of them.”
The Bruins, who entered No. 1 in the league in both goals for (4.0 per game) and goals against (2.13), had a rough opening 30 minutes of this one.
They were down a pair of goals before Cassidy’s tribute video played at the first TV timeout, a moment that drew a loud ovation that brought moisture to Cassidy’s eyes.
“I appreciate it,” Cassidy said afterward, his voice growing quiet. “It’s that simple.”
Or maybe Cassidy was just so tearfully proud of his group, which was missing stars Jack Eichel and Alex Pietrangelo, for being the only one of the teams that started on time.
The Golden Knights took the lead 1:36 in. From the Bruins’ perspective, the 1-0 goal was a combination of a few things, chiefly poor defensive zone coverage on rookie winger Paul Cotter, who was alone in the slot when he snapped one under the bar. Moments before, a determined Cotter lugged the puck behind the net and powered his way though Jake DeBrusk and Brandon Carlo. Finally, wingers DeBrusk and Marchand were clearly stiff-legged after a long shift.
They were down a pair at 5:04, when Pastrnak put a breakout pass right on Jonathan Marchessault’s tape. The Vegas veteran broke in alone and had two chances, slipping a rebound past Jeremy Swayman (21 saves) after the netminder made a pad stop.
The Bruins were down two goals at home on one occasion prior to Monday – on Black Friday against Carolina, which scored twice in the first period and lost, 3-2, in overtime.
From an undisciplined offensive-zone penalty by a forechecking Marchand — there was no need to leave his feet and throw his elbow on Daniil Miromanov — to a rash of passes that were off-target, the first period lacked flow for the Black and Gold.
One of the worst puck-moving attempts came from Tomas Nosek, who passed up a shot while trailing on an odd-man rush and missed an open A.J. Greer by several feet, drawing an agonized groan from the crowd. The worst pass of the period, no question, was Pastrnak’s.
Some 51 ticks were off the clock in the second when Cotter struck again. The Bruins couldn’t execute a breakout: Connor Clifton’s D to D pass was behind Derek Forbort, and the latter couldn’t put it on the tape of his forwards.
Vegas reloaded, downhill, Forbort was caught off-balance as Mark Stone bumped a pass from the boards to Cotter, who walked in and ripped a wrister glove-side on Swayman.
TD Garden didn’t have much life until Marchand and then Pastrnak struck, setting up a tense third.
When Forbort drew a holding call and Bergeron drew a trip, the Bruins had 1:35 of a 5 on 3. They went with five forwards, David Krejci replacing McAvoy. At a stoppage, Hall replaced DeBrusk.
It was Hall who tied it, with 23 seconds left on the power play. He tried a stuff-in from below the goal, and collected a rebound off Thompson’s pad to even the score.
“We weren’t at our game until about 28 minutes left in the game,” Montgomery said. “It’s going to happen. I’m really happy with the ability of our players to get back in the game.”
Speaking of comebacks, Cassidy would like to renew acquaintances with the Bruins down the road.
“I would like to be here in the spring,” he said. “Wouldn’t that be nice, eh?”