LAS VEGAS (AP) — David Backes didn’t know what to think when Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy called his number in the sixth round of a shootout Wednesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights.
So, he didn’t.
Instead, Backes took instruction from teammate Brad Marchand, skated in stick side on veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and scored the game-winner low-glove side to lift Boston to a 3-2 win over the Golden Knights for the Bruins’ season-high seventh straight victory.
“I was still in shock when he called my name with some of the guys that hadn’t gone yet,” Backes said. “I thought there was at least a handful before me, but got the call and went out there, I’m a shooter by nature … I tried low glove and it worked out and good ending to the fourth game of our trip. He’s an all-world goalie altogether, but in shootouts he’s lights out.”
Jake DeBrusk and Brad Marchand scored in regulation for Boston, which is 8-1-1 in its last 10 on the road — including wins in the first four games of a western trip. The Bruins’ win streak is their longest since a 12-game run in 2014.
Jaroslav Halak stopped 31 shots and has now won his last three starts, allowing just three goals along the way.
“It was a battle, I thought the first period they were better than us, but I think as the game went on, we started playing better,” Halak said. “I think we battled through it. I was happy going into overtime, at least we get a point. And that extra point for us, I think, is huge.”
The Bruins, who are 9-0-3 in their last 12 overall, haven’t lost in regulation since a 3-2 setback to the New York Rangers on Jan. 19. Boston improved to 11-2-2 against Pacific Division opponents and 18-4-4 versus Western Conference foes.
“I thought it was a good hockey game, it could have went either way, similar type teams I think,” Cassidy said. “The whole month we’ve been good, consistent. Part of that is to do with our lineup has become consistent because our injured guys are back. They’ve got some time under their belt. We had a lot of different guys in and out, so we’re gaining some chemistry again.”
With the win, second-place Boston increased its lead in the Atlantic Division over Toronto to four points.
Meanwhile, Vegas fell to 3-6-1 in February and 3-8 since Jan. 21. The Golden Knights, who have been outscored 40-27 during their 11-game skid, are 1-5-1 in their last seven games at home.
Reilly Smith and Nate Schmidt scored for Vegas, while Fleury finished with 25 saves. Fleury has lost four in a row and seven of his last nine starts. He has allowed 19 goals in last five starts, and 28 in the nine-game span.
“We got one point and played a great game,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “I’m tired of saying the (other team’s) goalie was the first star, but he played great and we hit a couple posts. I think if we played the game over, we’d probably win it. But it was a great hockey game. I thought it was a playoff atmosphere against a great team. Were we disappointed we didn’t get two points? Definitely. But I’m not going to fault our group for that effort. They played real well and worked hard. They did exactly what I wanted.”
DeBrusk scored for Boston in the first round of the shootout and William Karlsson tied it for Vegas in the second.
DeBrusk got things going for the Bruins 11 minutes into the game, when he put a nifty spin move on Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore as he collected a pass from David Krejci and fired a wrist shot past Fleury to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Smith tied it late in the first period when he punched home a rebound from Cody Eakin’s shot from the point.
Marchand gave the Bruins a brief lead, as he took a pass from Danton Heinen and beat Fleury with a blast 69 seconds into the third. Schmidt raced past McAvoy, collected the puck and snapped a backhand over Halak to tie the game just 27 seconds later.
“I think just in general our team knows, this time a year you gotta play together, play the right way and I think that’s a credit to the leadership and that’s why we’ve won games,” Cassidy said. “It’s not just one thing, it’s a combination of playing solid hockey.”
NOTES: The Bruins announced they acquired C Charlie Coyle from Minnesota for C Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick. Donato will join the Wild in New York for their game at the Rangers on Thursday. … The Golden Knights assigned D Jake Bischoff to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves earlier Wednesday.
Boston: Visits St. Louis on Saturday.
Vegas: Hosts Winnipeg on Friday night.
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