COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the normal opening night excitement palpable, the Boston Bruins overcame two, two-goal deficits to top the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 at Nationwide Arena on Thursday night.
Brad Marchand was the Bruins catalyst, dishing out three helpers in the second period before scoring two goals in the third to seal the victory.
Offseason addition David Backes added two goals and an assist and David Pastrnak had two goals and two assists for the Bruins.
Seth Jones had a goal and an assist and Alexander Wennberg and Cam Atkinson scored a goal each for the Blue Jackets.
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The Blue Jackets scored just 2:58 into the first period when Wennberg carried the puck through the neutral zone before sniping the puck past Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask. Jones and rookie Zach Werenski got the assists.
Atkinson scored at 17:25 of first period off a snap feed from Nick Foligno across Boston’s goal-mouth for a 2-0 Blue Jackets advantage. Wennberg notched his second point of the night with the secondary assist.
Pastrnak scored at 2:36 of the second to halve Columbus’ lead after Jones whiffed on a clearing pass.
Jones restores Columbus’ two-goal lead at 7:44 of second, as he gets the puck through traffic and past Rask.
At 15:36, Backes tucked away a rebound from close-in after a towering defenseman Zdeno Chara’s point shot to get the Bruins back within one goal, 3-2.
Less than two minutes later, Backes got his second goal of the game after redirecting a shot from Pastrnak to tie the game at 3.
Marchand scored the go-ahead goal on a rebound from Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky at 9:54 of the third period, making it 4-3.
Marchand scored again to give the Bruins a 5-3 lead at 15:25 of the third period.
With Bobrovsky pulled for the extra Columbus skater, Pastrnak potted an empty-net goal to cap the scoring.
Canadiens 4, Sabres 1
BUFFALO, New York — Brendan Gallagher scored twice to lead the Montreal Canadiens to victory over the Buffalo Sabres in the season opener for both teams.
Making matters worse for the Sabres, left winger Evander Kane left the game late in the second period after sustaining what appeared to be a serious injury.
Torrey Mitchell and Andrew Shaw also scored for the Canadiens, who got 30 saves from Al Montoya.
Matt Moulson scored the lone goal for the Sabres. Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner made 20 saves.
Kane crashed hard into the boards after losing his balance following a battle with Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin with 11 seconds remaining in the middle period, and his left side crashed into the end boards. Kane lay on the ice for several minutes before being helped to the locker room by teammates. The Sabres later announced that Kane was taken to the hospital for further evaluation and precautionary measures.
The Sabres were already missing several key players to start the year, including standout Jack Eichel (high ankle sprain), along with newcomers Kyle Okposo (knee) and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (bruised tailbone).
Mitchell exited the game midway through the third period after taking a hit from Buffalo defenseman Josh Gorges. Mitchell lost his balance and fell to his knees before taking an awkward hit.
The Canadiens dominated the flow of play throughout the game.
Gallagher opened the scoring 8:43 into the game on a terrific one-man effort. He raced into the Buffalo zone, used Gorges as a screen and ripped a hard shot into the far corner.
Two former Sabres combined to give Montreal a 2-0 lead 3:21 into the second period. Left winger Paul Byron raced toward the net and his attempted shot found Mitchell in the crease, and Mitchell slammed the puck home to double the lead.
Moulson got the Sabres on the board 35 seconds into the third period with a power-play strike. With Montreal defenseman Shea Weber in the penalty box for cross-checking, Sam Reinhart found Moulson wide open to the left of the net for Buffalo’s first goal of the season.
Gallagher restored Montreal’s two-goal lead with his second of the evening 6:43 into the third. Gallagher tipped a long shot from the point by Shea Weber to make it 3-1.
Shaw made it 4-1 with 8:24 remaining following a scrum in front of the Sabres net.
NOTES: Prior to the game, the Sabres announced that they signed GM Tim Murray to a contract extension. Murray has been on the job since January 2014 after replacing Darcy Regier. … Sabres C Jack Eichel is expected to miss one to two months after sustaining a high ankle sprain Wednesday. … Canadiens G Carey Price (flu) did not make the trip to Buffalo. … Eichel, RW Kyle Okposo (knee) and D Dmitry Kulikov (bruised tailbone) were scratched for the Sabres. … Price, C Brian Flynn, RW Sven Andrighetto and D Zach Redmond were scratched for the Canadiens. … The teams next meet Jan. 21 in Montreal.