At a stoppage after David Krejci won the opening draw and skated the opening shift Monday, public address announcer Jake Zimmer told the TD Garden crowd that the Bruins center was playing in his 1,000th NHL game.
Krejci had gone to the bench and sat down. He nodded. The fans were on their feet. He waved.
Afterward, he had trouble explaining his feelings.
“Mixed emotions,” he said. “It’s tough to answer that. I’m so glad they called me back.”
He was thinking about how fortunate he felt to return, at age 36, after a year playing at home in Czechia. He was thinking about enjoying every moment, “because you don’t know how long it’s going to last for.”
On a day the understated veteran was feted for donning the same uniform 1,000 times, his three assists helped the Bruins make quick work of the Flyers. They chased Philadelphia netminder Carter Hart and cruised to a 6-0 win.
Apologies to those who have been trying to reach Krejci this week, he said. Like his teammates, he has been focusing on the game.
Pavel Zacha (two goals) and David Pastrnak were the beneficiaries of Krejci setups in the first 40 minutes, the Bruins building a 4-0 lead on the overmatched visitors.
“He’s a Bruins legend and he showed why tonight,” coach Jim Montgomery said. “He makes everyone around him better.”
Pastrnak also struck 36 seconds into the third, a one-time blast on a power play. Krejci was in the slot, letting a Brad Marchand feed from the corner slide through him into Pastrnak’s office.
That was Pastrnak’s 35th goal, pulling him within two of Connor McDavid for the league lead.
Now 34-5-4, the Bruins lead the Maple Leafs by 13 points in the Atlantic Division. They are 23-0-1 when leading after two periods and 21-1-3 at home.
They refused to let the Flyers (18-19-7) — who came in winners of three in a row, and seven of their last eight — bother Jeremy Swayman. The netminder stopped all 29 shots he saw.
“Nine starts now where he’s played well,” Montgomery said of Swayman (10-3-3, 2.35 goals against average, .912 save percentage). “I think we have the best tandem in the league.”
Perhaps in a tribute to Krejci’s ability to control time and space, the clock on the TD Garden video board was accidentally frozen in the opening minutes of the game. The Bruins a “1″ at 4:38 of the first, and of course, No. 46 had a hand in it.
Off a Tony DeAngelo turnover, Krejci found Zacha, fresh off signing a four-year, $19 million extension, with a pass out wide. Zacha curled around the Philadelphia D and hit Pastrnak for a tap-in at the far side of Hart’s cage.
Krejci had the primary assist on the 2-0 goal. The finisher was Zacha, with an exclamation point. The $4.75 million man got so much on his one-timer from the top of the right circle that he fell over.
In the second period, the Bruins scored twice — in 46 seconds, appropriately — to make it a rout.
It was 3-0 after Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk worked the Flyers in the defensive zone for an easy exit. Because McAvoy used his partner, who was running legal interference, to draw the Flyers deeper into the forecheck, the Bruins had a three-on-two on the other way.
The visitors, scrambling to recover, couldn’t get in front of a Grzelcyk point shot. Marchand outflanked Ivan Provorov in front of the net for the rebound, finishing with a backhand tuck at 3:55 of the period.
Zacha scored his second off a Philly defender, tossing the puck to the middle as Krejci and Pastrnak were driving the net.
That was all for Hart, who allowed four goals on 16 shots and had little help.
Philadelphia couldn’t generate much attack or emotion. When pesky Travis Konecny threw a jab at Nick Foligno late in the second, he dropped the gloves with Foligno but seemed to think better of it. He held on tight.
Things did get a little heated, but the score kept the fire tamped down. A.J. Greer was sent off for boarding DeAngelo — who was heartily booed during the pregame lineup announcement — and Nicolas Deslauriers, one of the few remaining tough guys in the game, started swinging. Eventually there were three Flyers in the box, and two Bruins, but it didn’t matter.
At 8:04, Grzelcyk fired a top-shelf wrister from the right circle, off a cross-zone dish from McAvoy, to make it 6-0. It was his second goal in two games.
The Bruins should expect more resistance in a couple of days, when they visit the Islanders (Wednesday) and Rangers (Thursday). If they keep up the same habits they showed in closing out this one, they will continue to be a tough out.
“We asked forwards to reload right away when we don’t have possession, especially in the offensive zone,” Montgomery said. “We ask defensemen to have good gaps so we can keep pucks in the offensive zone. Defensemen and forwards were playing tonight real cohesively that way. That led to a lot of O-zone, a lot of turnovers with good sticks.
“When we’re playing like that, our habits and details, we’re a lot to handle.”