BOSTON — Two players have recorded hat tricks at TD Garden this season.
The first was Tyler Seguin. The second, achieving the feat 16 days later, was the player he was traded for.
Loui Eriksson put on perhaps his finest performance in a Bruins uniform Thursday night, scoring three goals in a game for the third time in his career as Boston took down the Minnesota Wild by a final score of 4-2.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Eriksson’s third tally put the Bruins up two in the third period, and backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson kept the Wild off the board the rest of the way.
Gustavsson, who got the start on a night off for Tuukka Rask, finished with 24 saves to improve to 4-1-0 on the season.
HATS OFF FOR LOUI
Eriksson’s three-goal night upped his season total to nine, vaulting him past David Krejci for the team lead. He scored twice in the second period — including one power-play goal — and again in the third to help propel the Bruins to their second win in three games.
Krejci also chipped in with two assists in the win.
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN
Bruins coach Claude Julien did a bit of line shuffling before the game, elevating wingers Brad Marchand and Jimmy Hayes to the first line and dropping Matt Beleskey and Brett Connolly down to the third. Yet it was a familiar unit that produced the game’s first goal.
With Hayes serving a penalty for roughing early in the first period, Connolly briefly joined Marchand and Bergeron to reform a line that enjoyed success earlier in the season. The winger made the most of the opportunity, firing a shot on Devan Dubnyk that Marchand gathered and turned into a wraparound goal.
Hayes’ roughing minor was just one infraction in a first period littered with them.
The teams combined for six minor penalties and two majors in the opening 20 minutes, with the five-minute banishments coming as a result of a fight between Beleskey and Brett Bulmer.
Beleskey won handily in his first scrap of the season.
The game featured 17 total penalties, four of which were handed out following a post-whistle scrum in the game’s final minute.
A penalty-filled contest typically would not be in the best interest of the Bruins’ highly suspect penalty-killing unit, but Boston kept Minnesota off the board in three successful kills.
The Bruins came up empty during a 5-on-3 power play early in the second — the Wild potted their first goal shortly thereafter — but they did capitalize on a hook by noted Bruins killer Thomas Vanek. Eriksson did the honors, stuffing a rebound past Dubnyk for his second goal of the night.
Bruins rookie Frank Vatrano left the game midway through the second period and did not return after absorbing a big hit from Wild defenseman Nate Prosser.
Vatrano slowly skated off the ice and immediately exited down the tunnel.
The injury resulted in yet another line change for Connolly, who filled in for the 21-year-old winger on Boston’s second unit. Just minutes later, he had a hand in another Bruins goal.
Eriksson threw a shot on net that deflected off Minnesota’s Jason Pominville, who’d been marking Connolly in front, and past Dubnyk. Connolly didn’t factor into the scoring on the goal, but his netfront pressure helped make it happen.
Beleskey played the “power forward” role to a T. The Bruins winger always is good for a half-dozen hits per game (game-high five Thursday), but he also was highly active on the offensive end against the Wild, helping generate several quality scoring chances. He finished with one assist (on Eriksson’s final goal) and three shots on net.
Beleskey’s night ended on a negative note, however, as he hit Wild forward Jason Zucker with a slash to the back of the knee as time expired. Zucker remained down on the ice for a significant period of time before being helped off by team trainers.
The Bruins close out their five-game homestand Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins left wing Loui Eriksson