By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
The Boston Bruins narrowly escaped danger their last time out, beating the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 the final score Saturday afternoon. The Sabres, now on a 17-game losing skid, had two leads on the Bruins before Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith potted a third-period goal each to give Boston the regulation win. Now, on the second game of a back-to-back, the Bruins will look to get another two points in this razor-close MassMutual East Division.
The New Jersey Devils on the other hand, have lost two consecutive games in a two-game set against the Washington Capitals. Before that though, the Devils had gone 4-1-0 in their last five games with wins over the Sabres, Flyers, and Penguins (x2). New Jersey has found success against the Bruins this season, currently winning the season series 3-0-1 in four games.
Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Home: Boston Bruins (17-8-5; 4th in the MassMutual East Division)
Away: New Jersey Devils (12-16-4; 7th in MassMutual East Division)
Bruins’ Last Game: 3-2 win vs BUF
Bruins’ Gameday Lineup:
Bruins forward Brad Marchand, forward Jake DeBrusk, and forward Sean Kuraly (COVID-19 protocol) are all out of today’s afternoon game. Forwards Chris Wagner and Greg McKegg are out of the lineup while forwards Karson Kuhlman and Anton Blidh will slot in alongside Jack Studnicka on the fourth line.
Early in the first period, the Devils seemed to be the team with the legs, getting shots off the rush. However, the Bruins are doing a good job getting traffic in front of Blackwood in the New Jersey zone, a good sign considering the recent success the B’s have been having when Coyle is net-front.
With 8:33 remaining in the opening frame, Andreas Johnsson gets called on an illegal check to the head on Bruins forward Craig Smith – the Bruins head to the power-play for the first time tonight. Patrice Bergeron had the first solid chance when Blackwood was far out of his crease, then Nick Ritchie blasts a one-timer from a David Pastrnak pass that Blackwood stops with his mid-section. Devils make a few more clears on the second-half of the penalty and successfully kill it off.
Late in the period, New Jersey gets some solid offensive zone time and they eventually capitalize with just over three minutes left on the scoreboard. Ty Smith takes a wrist shot that deflects off Kyle Palmieri from the high slot past Halak and the Devils take a 1-0 lead. Matt Grzelcyk had a costly turnover that led to the tally.
At that point, the Bruins trail the game 1-0 heading into the first intermission. Not a terrible period, but the Devils were the better team and had the game in more control. For the second straight game and what seems to be a reoccurring trend – the Bruins find themselves trailing to a subpar team.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 9 NJD: 12
Score: 1-0 Devils: Goals – Palmieri (7) Assists: Smith (17), Bratt (14)
Throughout the first half of the middle frame, the game is quite back-and-forth. A lot of shots off the rush and neutral zone turnovers on both sides. Craig Smith had a bomb of a one-timer off the rush that bounced in and out of Blackwood’s glove. The Devils then get a few shots from the point that Halak finds through traffic to make the stop.
Just about eight minutes in, New Jersey gets another considerable period of time in the Boston zone that led to a few golden opportunities to extend the lead to two goals, including a shot that hit the post while Halak was down – leaving the net wide open. All New Jersey in this second period.
Boston would get their first challenge on the penalty-kill as Connor Clifton gets called on a hooking minor as the Devils barrelled towards the Bruins’ net. The Bruins did kill off the penalty but nearly allowed one right as the penalty was set to expire as Hughes fed Miles Wood right beside Halak, but the Bruins’ netminder keeps his left pad glued to the post to keep the rubber out. Back to even-strength.
Bruins had a couple decent shots on Blackwood, but not long after the B’s go back to the penalty-kill as Matt Grzelcyk gets whistled on a holding call. Jack Hughes had a good shot in tight on Halak, but gets denied. Anders Bjork then with a terrific play shorthanded. Heavy pressure on Hughes, taking the puck away and getting a solid shot on Blackwood but can’t beat the Devils goaltender. Bruins kill off the remainder of the penalty, back to 5-on-5.
With 17.9 seconds left in the period, Jack Studnicka draws a tripping penalty on P.K. Subban and Boston goes to the man-advantage. David Krejci got tripped by Pavel Zacha as the period ends, but no call was made by the officials. Second period ends, Bruins still trail 1-0 but start the final regulation period with over 1:40 of power-play time.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 23 NJD: 24
Score: 1-0 Devils
Boston starts the third period with some fantastic changes on the man-advantage, but Blackwood continues to dominate in goal tonight, game stays 1-0 in favour of the Devils as the Bruins’ power-play comes to a close.
With 15:11 left in the period, Charlie McAvoy takes a blatant stick to the face resulting in evident blood on the face of the Bruins’ defenceman. After a bit of a review by the on-ice officials, a four-minute penalty is awarded and Boston has a golden chance to tie this game. Bruins pass the puck around a ton – but that’s all they do. Not nearly enough shots and with 14 seconds to go on the extended man-advantage, Charlie McAvoy takes a tripping minor, making it a four-on-four game for those 14 seconds then the Devils will have a power-play. B’s kill off the McAvoy penalty.
Once again, the Bruins after just firing everything on goal, get caught on a stick infraction. Zach Senyshyn gets his stick caught up with a Devils player and Boston once again finds themselves shorthanded. Boston does, however, make the kill – but with less than five minutes to go, the Bruins are going to need some serious puck luck to break the shutout.
In the final minutes, the Devils get two high-danger chances on Halak. The first, a Miles Wood breakaway that gets stopped and then a shot later on rings off the short-side post. Game remains 1-0 New Jersey.
With Jaroslav Halak pulled, David Pastrnak fires a shot on goal from the faceoff circle that Bergeron deflects on goal. David Krejci pokes the puck free before MacKenzie Blackwood can cover it up and Patrice Bergeron buries home the dirty goal. However, the Devils challenge the play for goalie interference and win it – no goal on the play, New Jersey back up 1-0.
Bruins continue pushing forward in the dying seconds and appear to score again, but after a lengthy review the puck was determined to have never crossed the goal line and Blackwood makes the save of the game with his right pad. Bruins lose 1-0.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 40 NJD: 29
Final Score: 1-0 Devils
Max’s Three Stars:
1st Star: NJD G MacKenzie Blackwood – 40 Saves on 40 Shots
2nd Star: NJD F Kyle Palmieri – 1 Goal (GWG), 3 Shots, 13:58 TOI
3rd Star: BOS G Jaroslav Halak – 28 Saves on 29 Shots
Another tough loss for the Boston Bruins as the Devils are now 4-0-1 against them this season. The Bruins’ next game is Tuesday against the Devils once again.