Kyle Palmieri scored the game’s only goal late in the first period, while Mackenzie Blackwood stopped all 40 shots that he faced– backstopping the New Jersey Devils to a, 1-0, shutout over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Sunday.
Blackwood (9-9-1, 2.82 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in 19 games played) earned his first shutout of the season (the sixth of his National Hockey League career) in the 40-save effort for New Jersey.
Boston goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (7-5-3, 2.17 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in 15 games played) made 28 saves on 29 shots against for a .966 save percentage in the loss.
The Bruins dropped to 17-9-5 (39 points) overall and remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Devils improved to 13-16-4 (30 points) on the season and in command of 7th place in the division.
The B’s also fell to 8-4-2 at home this season and 1-3-1 against New Jersey this season.
The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Sean Kuraly (COVID protocol), Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol) and Brad Marchand (COVID protocol) on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Karson Kuhlman returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s, 3-2, win against the Buffalo Sabres due to an injury sustained on March 25th against the New York Islanders.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few adjustments to his lineup on Sunday, leaving his first three lines the same as they were on Saturday, while inserting Anton Blidh and Kuhlman on Jack Studnicka’s wings on the fourth line and swapping Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon on the second and third defensive pairings.
Zboril was demoted to playing third pairing minutes alongside Steven Kampfer, while Lauzon was bumped up alongside Connor Clifton to round out the top-four defenders.
Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, injured players, taxi squad members and players in COVID protocol on Sunday evening included, Chris Wagner, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Kuraly, Marchand, DeBrusk, Jarred Tinordi, Miller, Jack Ahcan and Callum Booth, who was recalled and assigned to the taxi squad late Saturday.
Weymouth, Massachusetts native and Bruins forward, Charlie Coyle, took part in his 600th career NHL game on Sunday, wearing an “A” on his jersey for the second-straight game with Marchand out due to COVID protocol.
Midway through the opening frame, Andreas Johnsson caught Craig Smith up high with an illegal check to the head and was assessed a minor infraction, yielding the first power play of the game to Boston at 11:27 of the first period.
Moments later, after killing the penalty, New Jersey struck first and scored the only goal of the game when Ty Smith sent a shot from the faceoff dot that deflected of Palmieri (7) and into the twine over Halak’s glove.
Smith (7) and Jesper Bratt (14) tallied the assists on Palmieri’s goal as the Devils took the, 1-0, lead at 16:37.
Entering the first intermission, New Jersey led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 12-9, in shots on goal.
The Devils also led in takeaways (3-2) and giveaways (3-0), while the Bruins held the advantage in hits (8-6) and faceoff win percentage (62-38) after 20 minutes of action.
Both teams had four blocked shots, while the B’s were 0/1 on the power play and the Devils had yet to see any time on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.
Clifton hooked Bratt at 11:55 of the second period, presenting New Jersey with their first power play of the evening, but the Devils didn’t convert on the advantage as Boston’s league-leading penalty kill did its job.
Trent Frederic caught his teammate, Patrice Bergeron, with an errant elbow to the face while making a hit in the corner that sent Bergeron down the tunnel before returning ahead of the third period without issue.
Late in the period, Matt Grzelcyk was penalized for holding against Miles Wood at 17:33 and P.K. Subban tripped Studnicka at 19:42, but neither team managed to get anything going on the special teams action.
Heading into the second intermission, the Devils held onto the lead, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 24-23, in shots on goal, despite the Bruins outshooting New Jersey, 14-12, in the second period alone.
Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (9-5), hits (20-14) and faceoff win% (57-43), while New Jersey led in takeaways (5-4).
Both teams had four giveaways each and were 0/2 on the power play entering the final frame.
Janne Kuokkanen caught Charlie McAvoy with a high stick and drew blood at 4:49 of the third period, presenting the B’s with their best chance on the skater advantage as Kuokkanen cut a rut to the penalty box with a four-minute double-minor infraction.
Boston’s power play was cut short when McAvoy tripped Yegor Sharangovich at 8:36, lending the Devils an abbreviated power play after 14 seconds of 4-on-4 action.
Moments later, Zach Senyshyn took a holding penalty at 13:18, but New Jersey didn’t score on the resulting skater advantage.
Cassidy pulled Halak with 1:38 remaining for an extra attacker and Bergeron thought he tied the game while burying a loose puck from just outside the crease, but Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, used a coach’s challenge on the grounds that David Krejci had interfered with Blackwood’s ability to make a save.
After review, the call on the ice was reversed and the score remained, 1-0, in favor of New Jersey as Krejci’s stick work while battling to free a loose puck in the crease was deemed goaltender interference.
With about eight seconds remaining, the Bruins thought they tied the game again, but the puck did not fully cross the goal line as was confirmed by video review.
At the final horn, the Devils had won, 1-0, and finished the afternoon with back-to-back shutouts against the Bruins in their last two meetings for the first time since 1997.
Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 40-29, including a, 17-5, advantage in the third period alone.
The B’s also led in hits (23-18) and faceoff win% (64-36), while New Jersey wrapped up the evening’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (14-10) and giveaways (12-5).
Both teams went 0/4 on the power play in the action.
The Bruins fell to 5-6-2 (2-4-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while the Devils improved to 11-7-0 (7-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal in 2020-21.
New Jersey also improved to 8-3-0 (4-1-0 on the road) when leading after one period and 7-2-0 (5-1-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.
Boston fell to 3-6-2 (1-2-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 3-5-1 (2-3-0 at home) when trailing after two periods in 2020-21.
The Bruins close out the month of March against the Devils on Tuesday. Boston begins the month of April with a pair of home games against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (April 1st) and Saturday (April 3rd).
Boston is 1-1-1 in their current seven-game homestand.