Vacation mode is over.
Following a flameout Tuesday against Calgary coming out of the All-Star break, the Bruins reignited their game Thursday night, pinning a 4-0 loss on the Canucks at TD Garden.
In a matchup featuring the top teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences, the Bruins dominated in every phase and snapped Vancouver’s string of 12 games with a point.
The Bruins (32-10-9) and Canucks (34-12-5) awoke Friday morning with 73 points apiece.
“Yeah, the break ended for us. This was the first game after the break is what we were kind of joking,” Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm said. “But no, let’s learn from it, that’s a good thing to do, that’s what we were talking about, and it’s a good response from the boys tonight.”
Linus Ullmark had to stop just 17 shots — a season low for a Bruins opponent — to earn his first shutout of the season and seventh of his career.
“I was very impressed with [defense in front of me],” Ullmark said. “We said beforehand that it wasn’t tolerable to do what we did last game, and the guys really took it to heart.”
Charlie Coyle set up a pair of shorthanded goals in the first period — the first scored by Brad Marchand just 32 seconds in — and the Bruins were never really threatened thereafter.
It was “absolutely” the bounce-back game that Jim Montgomery was looking for.
“I just cared about how tenacious and aggressive we were going to be mentally and go out and try and force the issue and I thought we did that, and I thought our penalty kill led us that way,” the Bruins coach said.
Coyle’s two helpers extended his career-high point streak to 10 games as he continues to show he’s among the NHL’s most well-rounded centers.
It was clear from the jump that the Bruins still felt a little salty from the loss to the Flames.
The Bruins bolted into the Canucks’ zone right off the faceoff, however their eagerness led to a partial breakaway for Vancouver’s Dakota Joshua, and it forced Jakub Lauko to commit a holding penalty just 17 ticks in. Actually, Lauko was fortunate Joshua wasn’t awarded a penalty shot.
The infraction really hurt — the Canucks.
The penalty killers swarmed, and Marchand scored 15 seconds after the call.
Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko tried a wraparound clear, but it was intercepted at the half boards by Coyle, who centered the puck to Marchand. The captain’s first shot ticked off the goalie’s pads, but Marchand went top shelf with the rebound for the 1-0 lead.
It was Marchand’s 25th goal of the season and his 35th career shorthanded tally, ninth best on the NHL’s all-time list.
As the Garden crowd erupted, the Canucks bench sank.
“When you give up a shorthanded goal, it’s a damper, especially right away,” Coyle said. “But in our minds — and it’s a great way to start — but we still have to kill a penalty. They’re a good team, so you’ve got to kind of come back to earth and stay even-keeled in that situation.”
The Bruins went on the power play for the first time when J.T. Miller ran over Lindholm in his defensive end, but the hosts couldn’t capitalize.
It wasn’t until David Pastrnak was sent off for tripping Elias Pettersson that the Bruins were able to double their lead with another shorty.
Coyle again was the catalyst, picking off a pass and springing Danton Heinen on a partial breakaway. With Vancouver All-Stars Quinn Hughes and Pettersson in hot pursuit, Heinen raced in, used his body to shield away the defenders, and went top shelf over Demko’s blocker.
The goal was Heinen’s 10th of the season and his second career shorty, the first since he was a rookie in 2017-18.
The Bruins doubled their lead again to four with a pair of strikes in the opening minute of the second period when a chunk of the faithful were still in the beer lines.
Morgan Geekie got the first, his ninth of the season, and it was most unusual.
Set up for a one-timer just inside the blue line, Pastrnak’s stick exploded on contact, with the blade end helicoptering toward the net. With all eyes on the flying lumber, a falling Geekie batted the puck baseball-style before it deflected in off Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers’s blade.
Just 15 seconds after Geekie’s “snipe,” Pavel Zacha made it 4-0.
Zipping down the middle, Zacha collected a saucy backhanded floater from James van Riemsdyk and ripped a low wrister past Demko’s blocker for his 12th of the season.
The Bruins continued to push the play and clamp down on Rick Tocchet’s club over the final 20 minutes, much to the delight of Montgomery.
“I think the way we kept coming back, getting above them and we didn’t give up odd-man rushes,” he said. “I think that was the most pleasant thing because when you’re in the lead, you don’t want to give them opportunities to get back in either by taking penalties or giving up odd-man rushes, and I liked the way we continued to hang on the pucks in the offensive zone.”