Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 16: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Dallas Stars during the first period of the Bruins home opener at TD Garden on October 16, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Bruins had to wait until the fifth day of the 2021-22 NHL season to finally get their season underway.

Factor in their time between their final preseason game and Saturday’s season-opening meeting with the Stars, and it was a staggering 10-day break between games for the Bruins. It honestly felt like 10 years, and the Bruins couldn’t hide from the fact that they were getting sick of practicing. It was said multiple times, actually.

But the Bruins channeled that rest into some high-intensity action and drama Saturday night, with a 3-1 victory against Braden Holtby and the Stars at TD Garden.

Off to a flying start with a 17-shot opening period, it was a Brad Marchand penalty shot that opened things up for the Bruins, as Marchand made Ryan Suter pay for a holding penalty that denied No. 63 a late-period chance on the Stars’ Holtby.

And if the entire sequence felt a bit familiar, you were not suffering from a Sinbad-As-A-Genie fever dream, as the Bruins indeed opened their 2013-14 campaign up with a penalty-shot goal. Back then, it was Chris Kelly who was awarded and scored on a penalty shot in the first period of the team’s Oct. 3, 2013 win over the Lightning. (Kelly, of course, is now behind the Boston bench as one of the assistant coaches on Bruce Cassidy’s staff.)

The Marchand goal held as the lone tally of a Boston-dominated opening frame, as the Stars landed just five shots on goal against Jeremy Swayman. The best of their five shots came on a last-minute power-play chance from an all-alone Jamie Benn to the left of Swayman on the Dallas power play, and it saved by Swayman’s glove with a casual look that made it look easy.

Unable to build off their lead despite their complete ownership of the puck through the first half of the contest, a botched clearing attempt from Charlie Coyle and Taylor Hall opened the door (and the middle of the ice) for the Stars, who responded with a Luke Glendening goal at the 9:15 mark of the middle frame.

Knotted up at 1-1 through 40 minutes, Jake DeBrusk kicked off his potential comeback season with a net-front burial through Holtby at the 4:43 mark of the third period for what would hold as the game-winning tally.

“When Jake’s in a good place, he’s got a personality, he’s a good kid, and he’s good for a locker room,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “So part of being in a good place is usually you feel good about your game and tonight he should.

“[That goal] is simply playing behind their D, winning a footrace, creating that second-effort play to create a turnover and then it ends up on his stick in the slot. So that’s what we’re trying to preach that you’ll get rewarded a lot if you’re able to make some of those plays.”

The first rookie to start a season opener since Blaine Lacher in 1995, the 22-year-old Swayman stopped 27 of the 28 shots faced for the victory, and had tons of fun along the way.

“That’s special,” Swayman said of getting the nod for the first game of the season. “Not many places like [TD Garden] in the league. I’m so excited to be part of it. I’m so appreciative of these fans and the team in front of me.”

And in case a season of significant change did not seem real, this was actually the first Opening Night without David Krejci or Tuukka Rask on the B’s roster since the team’s season-opening loss to the Panthers back on Oct. 6, 2006.

The Bruins will get back at it next Wednesday against the Flyers.

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.