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Talking Points: Smith’s Hat Trick Paces Boston Bruins To Win

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Boston Bruins

Here are the Talking Points from the Boston Bruins 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday night.

GOLD STAR: Craig Smith matched half his season output for goals scored this season when he lit the lamp three times against Vegas and helped power the Bruins to a big road win over the Golden Knights. It’s part of a continued stretch of strong play from Boston’s third line since Bruce Cassidy put Smith, Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic together as a line that’s finally giving the Black and Gold offensive balance throughout their line. It was a nice mix of goals, as well, with Smith snapping one shot from the face-off circle off a feed from Trent Frederic, and the second coming after Smith found a soft spot in defensive coverage and finished a slick Charlie Coyle centering pass. The third was a Craig Smith blast from the edge of the face-off circle that just plain beat Robin Lehner. Smith finished with three goals, a plus-3 rating and five shot attempts in 15:19 of ice time in his best game of the year.

BLACK EYE: Rough night for Reilly Smith, who was robbed by Jeremy Swayman on a scoring chance and finished a team-worst minus-3 as Craig Smith and David Pastrnak had a field day scoring goals for the Black and Gold. Nothing to take away from Smith’s overall season, however, as he’s on pace for a season with 24 goals and 54 points and continues to put together a decent career since the Boston Bruins dealt him away to the Florida Panthers seasons ago. At least on Thursday Bruins fans were reminded why he was traded away in the first place after Smith had some truly tough games where his confidence was gone at the end of his run in Boston.

TURNING POINT: The Golden Knights had closed the game to within a 2-1 score in the second period after a Jack Eichel breakaway goal and it looked like the third period was going to be a battle. Instead the Boston Bruins just stuck with the plan and outscored Vegas by a 3-1 margin in the final 20 minutes while pulling away on the strength of a pair of David Pastrnak strikes that put him over 30 goals for the fifth time as a member of the Boston Bruins. Pastrnak’s first goal of the third period was the real backbreaker for the Golden Knights on the way to a Boston victory.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak finished with the two third period goals in 16:28 of ice time and had a team-high seven shots on net and 12 shot attempts overall while crossing over 30 goals for the fifth time in his career.

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He joins some rarified air with that accomplishment and continues an amazing stretch of offensive productivity since the start of the New Year.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 – the number of Boston Bruins players that have had hat tricks this season after Craig Smith snapped out of a season-long funk and scored three goals in the win over Vegas.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “He went down to Providence and also played well, didn’t pout or say, ‘I’m too good for this league,’ which can happen to guys.” –Bruce Cassidy on goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who stopped 34-of-36 shots in the win while playing brilliantly and is 6-0-1 with a .967 save percentage in his last seven games.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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Sorry but the return for Reilly Smith was even worse. Another example of the Bruins giving up on a young player too soon (and the list is long says Seguin and Hamilton) who goes on to flourish elsewhere!
I would take smith’s offence over half the pluggers that the Bruins currently employ!!

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