Although the Boston Bruins‘ season opener is annoyingly not until Saturday, October 16th, the NHL regular season began last night on October 12th.
During it, there were two interesting matchups. The Pittsburgh Penguins visited the Tampa Bay Lightning and beat the reigning Stanley Cup champions 6-2. The Seattle Kraken then had their first ever regular season game against the NHL’s second youngest team, the Vegas Golden Knights. The Kraken came back from a 3-0 deficit before losing 4-3 after Vegas scored a controversial kicking goal.
Sure, the Bruins did not play, but they did have some connections to both games last night. Two former players scored rather noteworthy goals.
Danton Heinen scored the first goal of the 2021-22 NHL regular season for the Penguins. Ryan Donato, on the other hand, would end up scoring the first goal in Seattle Kraken history. Both of these forwards began their careers with the Bruins before each being traded elsewhere.
This was Heinen’s first game as a Penguin, and it’s fair to state that he left a good first impression. The 26-year-old scored on Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy after a nice feed from veteran forward Jeff Carter. Carter initially intercepted the puck from Vasilevskiy behind the net, so he deserves a lot of credit for it.
Donato’s goal was due to hard work on his end. After Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn took a shot from the point, Donato fought Alec Martinez in front of the net for the rebound. He won the battle and quickly batted the puck in. This was great for the 25-year-old forward, as he was a late summer signing by Seattle and almost did not have an NHL home for this season.
Briefly discussing their times with the Bruins
Heinen was originally drafted by the Bruins with the 116th overall pick of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. After two strong seasons with the University of Denver, he joined the Bruins. He played out his first full year with the team during the 2017-18 season. In 77 games, he scored 16 goals and recorded 47 points. However, he was never able to replicate those totals as his tenure continued with Boston.
During the 2019-20 season, the Bruins were looking to revamp their third-line and decided that Heinen was the best player to move. The Bruins traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie. In his final year with the Bruins, Heinen scored seven goals and recorded 22 points. He only recorded 14 points in 43 games this past season with the Ducks and is looking to rebound this year with the Penguins. He’s off to a good start with that.
Like Heinen, Donato entered the NHL with a bang. He joined the Bruins during the final portion of the 2017-18 season. In 12 games, he scored five goals and had nine points. However, he struggled to cement himself a permanent spot in the B’s lineup the following season. In 34 games with the team, he scored six goals and had nine points. This led the Bruins to trade him and a 2019 fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Charlie Coyle.
At first, it seemed a bit risky to trade Donato, as it once seemed like he could have become a top-six forward. He also recorded 16 points in 22 games with the Wild after the trade that season. However, he lasted just one more season with the team and had 23 points in 62 games. He spent last season with the San Jose Sharks, but they opted not to send him a qualifying offer and let him walk. Thus, the move did not end up hurting the Bruins in the end.
Nonetheless, it’s kind of funny that these two managed to get on the scoresheet last night. Ending with one little side note – former Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon also recorded an assist for the Kraken last night as well.