Craig Smith hits Vegas jackpot with hat trick, Bruins win


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Craig Smith scored three goals and the Boston Bruins beat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2 on Thursday night.

It was Smith’s third career hat trick and second with the Bruins. It’s the third straight season he’s scored a hat trick and the first time he’s scored three goals in a road game.

“Anytime you can do three, it’s great,” Smith said. “It’s great here, and obviously the wins on the road are huge too, and special with the team. But whenever you can get three, you’ll take them.”

The Bruins improved to 4-1-0 in their six-game road trip and 9-3-2 in their last 14 road games. Overall, they have won six of their last seven games as they close in on third-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division.

David Pastrnak scored twice for Boston and Jeremy Swayman stopped 34 shots.

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Boston Bruins center Craig Smith (12) shoots for his third goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 3, 2022 in Las Vegas.
(AP Photo/John Locher)

Pastrnak’s 23 goals since Jan. 1 lead the NHL. During the same period, the Bruins have the second most points with 40, behind Colorado.

Boston got points from eight different skaters, including a total of seven third-row points from Smith (3), Trent Frederic (3) and Charlie Coyle (1).

“That’s why our record is what it is, I think this series of games because we have different people involved,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.

Vegas, meanwhile, lost for the sixth time in eight games and continues to miss offensive stars Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. The Golden Knights have been held to two goals or less in five of those games.

“We have guys in protracted fits,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “When you knock Pacioretty and Stone out of the lineup, you can’t have multiple guys going into double-digit games without scoring a goal.”

Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Vegas and Robin Lehner made 31 saves.

After starting the season with a .917 save percentage, 13th best in the NHL among goaltenders with 10 starts through Nov. 18, Lehner is tied for 39th with a .900 save percentage since then. during.

The Golden Knights failed to score a power play goal for the fifth straight game and the 12th time in 14 games. Since January 24, they rank last in the NHL with a power play conversion rate of 6.1%.

“There’s no reason to hide from the fact that we need to get a power play goal,” added DeBoer.

And even though Boston didn’t score on its only power-play chance, it had no trouble putting the puck in the net.

As Vegas’ Ben Hutton had the puck cleared as he entered the neutral zone, the Bruins immediately went into attack mode in transition. Frederic fed Smith, who beat Lehner from the slot for his first goal in 12 games to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

Boston once again benefited from a mishap in Vegas, this time midway through the second period. Golden Knights defender Brayden McNabb and forward William Karlsson collided behind the net, leaving Smith alone to catch Coyle’s backdoor pass and catch Lehner out of position.

Smith scored his third goal of the game in the third when he smoked a shot from the left circle after Lehner was turned over by teammate Zach Whitecloud and left out of position.

Eichel ignited the relatively calm crowd of 18,109 in the second period when he escaped into the area alone and dodged several times before accidentally leaving the puck with a forehand to float under Swayman’s pads and cut half advance.

Pastrnak scored twice in the third, early in the period thanks to his own rebound and an empty net to provide the final margin.

Marchessault scored his 22nd goal with Lehner fired late in the third.

NOTES: McNabb left in the second period. DeBoer said McNabb was being evaluated and receiving X-rays for what appeared to be a hand injury. … Boston forward Tomas Nosek returned to T-Mobile Arena for the first time since signing with the Bruins in the offseason. Nosek, who has spent the past four seasons with Vegas after starting his career in Detroit, was greeted with a first-half tribute video.

FOLLOWING

Bruins: Plays Columbus on Saturday.

Golden Knights: Play in Anaheim on Friday.


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