By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn
The Bruins headed south to New Jersey for a Saturday matinee against the New Jersey Devils and old friend Dougie Hamilton. The B’s were coming off a tough loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night and looking to rebound against a Devils team that finds themselves fifth in the Metropolitan Division but riding a three-game win streak. The Bruins made three changes to the lineup that fell to the Oilers two days ago. Karson Kuhlman came in for Craig Smith, Jakub Zboril filled in for Mike Reilly, and Jeremy Swayman got the start between the pipes.
The Bruins got an early opportunity in the first period when Jesper Boqvist took a high-sticking minor to put the Bruins on the power-play just six minutes in. Unfortunately, the man advantage was cut short when Jeremy Swayman got a bit impatient on a clearing by the Devils. Swayman just barely touched the puck before it got into the trapezoid behind his net. The referee had his eyes peeled, though, and Swayman received a delay of game penalty.
Much of the first period was a stalemate, as neither offense could breakthrough. That changed when Anton Blidh slapped a quick shot on the net. Blidh’s shot was stopped, but Devils’ goalie Jonathan Bernier kicked out the rebound right to an oncoming Erik Haula, who buried it for his first goal as a Bruin.
End of First Period: BOS 1 – NJD 0
First Period Shots: BOS 14 – NJD 9
The second period was much more lively than the first. Brad Marchand started the scoring in the middle frame with a beautiful power-play goal. Patrice Bergeron and Charlie Coyle provided a great screen as Marchand fired the puck low through traffic past Bernier for his seventh of the season. Marchand has been huge for the Bruins this season, and this power-play goal was not the end of his scoring today.
Just as the Oilers did on Thursday, the Devils answered almost immediately with a gorgeous goal. Dawson Mercer, who was in the box for Marchand’s goal, finished off a perfect tic-tac-toe passing play to cut the Bruins’ lead in half just 28 seconds after Marchand’s goal.
Not to be outdone, Brad Marchand answered right back just under three minutes later. The Bruins’ alternate captain carried the puck into the offensive zone before firing a pass cross-ice to David Pastrnak. Pasta wound up and put a slap shot on the net, but again Bernier could not quite handle it and spilled a rebound. Marchand had continued his path into the zone and was right on the doorstep to clean up the mess, putting the Bruins back up by two.
The Devils cut the lead down to one again late in the second with a goal by Jesper Bratt. Bratt snuck out to the bottom of the right circle, and Mercer added an assist to his earlier goal by feeding Bratt a perfect one-timer pass. The late goal gave the Devils a bit of momentum heading into the third after a chaotic second period.
End of Second Period: BOS 3 – NJD 2
Second Period Shots: BOS 12 – NJD 9 (Total: BOS 26 – NJD 18)
The B’s found themselves in a familiar situation heading into the third period. Just two nights prior, they had given up a 3-2 lead in the third period by giving up three straight goals to the Oilers. This afternoon, they did not make that mistake again.
The Bruins did a great job shutting down the Devils, and when they were presented the opportunity, the first line added another goal to their resume. Pastrnak once again created a goal-scoring opportunity, and while he could not finish this one either, Patrice Bergeron followed the play and jammed the puck into the back of the net.
When the Devils pulled their goalie, Bruce Cassidy showed off his man-management skills. Cassidy put out his third line, confident that they could get the job done, and it paid off when Jake DeBrusk collected the puck and slid it into an open goal. Hopefully, seeing the puck go across the line will boost DeBrusk’s confidence and lead to a good goal-scoring streak coming up.
End of Third Period: BOS 5 – NJD 2
Second Period Shots: BOS 10 – NJD 11 (Total: BOS 36 – NJD 29)
With today’s win, the Bruins improve to 7-5 on the year. Today’s game was another good performance for the Bruins, who have been better this year about taking care of business against teams they should be beating. They also showed a sense of resilience after Thursday’s game, in which they failed to hold onto the same lead they were able to finish off tonight. Their next game is tomorrow night against the Canadiens. It’s the first meeting between two bitter rivals in two seasons, so it should be a great game for us fans to watch.