(Photo Credit: Julio Cortez, AP)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: New Jersey Devils
Away: Boston Bruins
Marchand – Krejci – Pastrnak
Bjork – Coyle – Heinen
DeBrusk – Lindholm – Ritchie
Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Vaakanainen – Clifton
New Jersey’s Lineup
Hall – Hischier – Bratt
Wood – Hughes – Palmieri
Coleman – Zajac – Gusev
Hayden – Zacha – Simmonds
Butcher – Subban
Greene – Severson
Mueller – Vatanen
Bad news came in warmups when it was announced that Patrice Bergeron would miss a second straight game. But, Jake DeBrusk and Brett Ritchie did return to the lineup. Baby steps were made towards a healthy Bruins team. Regardless, the Devils, winners of their last two games, stood in the way of the Bruins at Prudential Center.
DeBrusk was buzzing early, as he forced a turnover at the offensive blue line and nearly scored. After that, through the first half of the opening frame, there were just three combined shots (2-1 Bruins). It was a bit of an odd start at times.
Things got a bit more interesting when DeBrusk took down Pavel Zacha, creating the first power play opportunity of the game. Luckily for the Bruins, they escaped the penalty kill unscathed. Shortly after the conclusion of that penalty kill, Matt Grzelcyk laced one past MacKenzie Blackwood to open the scoring with 5:34 to. Grzelcyk’s first of the season was assisted by Brad Marchand (20) and David Krejci (10).
That wasn’t all. David Pastrnak found himself open in his favorite spot on the ice – waiting for a one-timer on his off-wing. Two goals in 14 seconds for the Bruins gave them advantage in quick fashion. Pastrnak’s 18th goal of the season was assisted by Marchand (21) and Krejci (11). That’s one way to get things going on the road.
Things didn’t get much better for New Jersey after the Pastrnak goal as with 1:54 to go, Taylor Hall went off for tripping. The Bruins carried left six seconds of power play time on the table going into the second period. Blake Coleman nearly buried a shorthanded chance in the dying seconds, but failed to score and even collided with Rask in the process. The shots were 6-5 in favor of the Bruins at the end of the first, so the Bruins making their shots count in a fairly low-volume period was big.
Score: 2-0 Boston
The Bruins came out of the gate with speed and good place, keeping the Devils on edge early in the period. Tempers eventually flared up between DeBrusk and Damon Severson in Blackwood’s crease. Severson was likely looking to ignite his team a bit, and chose DeBrusk as his dance partner for a scrum after the whistle.
Shots were 6-2 Bruins through the first seven minutes of the period. In the limited action he saw, Tuukka Rask was sharp through the first half of the game. The Devils began to ramp things up after the halfway point of the period though, generating four shots in 34 seconds of ice time at one point.
The resurgence paid off for the Devils, as found enough space to roof one on the backhand to cut their deficit to one with 1:49 to go. The Bruins still managed to carry a lead into the third period, but struggled in the latter portion of the second period. Also the Charlie Coyle line was playing consistently well. The shots were 12-11 in favor of the Bruins, 18-16 overall.
Score: 2-1 Boston
Tensions were high to start. Charlie McAvoy and Taylor Hall got in each other’s faces, as did Sean Kuraly and P.K. Subban before teammates joined the fray. Just 3:11 into the frame, Subban took a penalty that gave Pastrnak a green light to score his second of the game just eight seconds into the power play. Pastrnak’s 19th was assisted by Marchand (22) and Coyle (7).
It was all Grzelcyk and Pastrnak in the scoring department. Grzlecyk made a move around Subban, then sniped yet again to give the Bruins a vital insurance marker, extending their lead to three. His second of the season and the game was assisted by McAvoy (7).
Connor Clifton then wanted in on the second goal of the season party for Bruins defensemen. The goal was unassisted. After only being up a goal going into the final frame, the response from the Bruins was a huge one. It was 5-1 Bruins with 6:18 to go.
The Devils generated some decent chances late, but it wasn’t enough. The Bruins took over in the third and won by a good margin. Shots were tied at ten in the third and finished at 28-26 in favor of the Bruins. With five goals on the board, a 25-save win for Rask may fly under the radar, but this was a really solid game for him. Next up for the Bruins are the Sabres on Thursday at TD Garden at 7:00 PM ET. The Bruins are 13-3-5.