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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins dance with Devils in, 5-2, matinée victory

Brad Marchand had a pair of goals as the Boston Bruins beat the New Jersey Devils, 5-2, at Prudential Center on Saturday afternoon.

Bruins netminder, Jeremy Swayman (4-2-0, 2.18 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in six games played) made 27 saves on 29 shots against in the win.

Jonathan Bernier (4-2-0, 2.80 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in six games played) turned aside 31 out of 35 shots faced in the loss.

Boston improved to 7-5-0 (14 points) on the season and moved ahead of the Buffalo Sabres for 5th place in the Atlantic Division standings by virtue of games-in-hand (the Bruins have played 12 games, while Buffalo has played 13 games thus far).

New Jersey fell to 7-4-2 (16 points) overall and remained in 5th place in the Metropolitan Division standings.

The B’s also improved to 2-4-0 on the road this season, as well as 16-6-5 in 27 games at Prudential Center.

Trent Frederic (upper body) was the only Bruin out of the lineup due to injury, but head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a couple adjustments to his lines from Thursday night’s, 5-3, loss to the Edmonton Oilers entering Saturday.

Karson Kuhlman re-entered the lineup in place of Craig Smith on the third line, while Mike Reilly was scratched in place of Jakub Zboril on the third defensive pairing.

Smith and Reilly were joined by Oskar Steen on the short list of healthy scratches for Boston on Saturday. Steen was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Friday and will likely be on the third line in place of Kuhlman on Sunday against Montréal.

Early in the first period, Jesper Boqvist caught David Pastrnak with a high stick and was assessed a minor penalty, yielding the afternoon’s first power play opportunity to the Bruins at 6:37 of the first period.

Boston’s skater advantage was short lived, however, as Swayman played the puck outside of the trapezoid for a delay of game penalty at 7:27.

Kuhlman served Swayman’s minor, while the two teams skated at 4-on-4 for about 1:10 prior to an abbreviated power play for the Devils.

New Jersey couldn’t capitalize on the shift in skater strength, though.

Minutes later, Connor Clifton checked Tomáš Tatar away from the puck and received an inference infraction at 10:08. Once again, however, the Devils couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Late in the period, after switching up his bottom-six forwards– demoting Jake DeBrusk to the fourth line after a slow start and promoting Anton Blidh to the third line alongside Erik Haula and Kuhlman– Boston’s third line broke through for the afternoon’s first goal of the game.

Haula (1) sent a rebound off an initial shot by Blidh through Bernier’s five-hole to give the B’s a, 1-0, lead at 17:37 of the first period.

Blidh (1) and Kuhlman (1) tallied the assists on Haula’s first goal of the season (and first goal in a Bruins uniform, as well).

Entering the first intermission, Boston held a, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard and led in shots on goal, 14-9.

The Bruins also held the advantage in blocked shots (5-2) and hits (6-5), while New Jersey led in takeaways (9-6). Both teams had one giveaway each and split faceoff win percentage, 50-50, in the first period.

The Devils were 0/2 and Boston was 0/1 on the power play after one period.

Dawson Mercer tripped up Clifton to kick things off in the middle frame with a Bruins power play at 2:58 of the second period.

Late in the special teams action, Marchand (7) wired a shot from the point with eyes through traffic past Bernier to give the B’s a two-goal lead.

Charlie McAvoy (7) and Patrice Bergeron (7) tallied the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 4:10 of the second period.

Jesper Bratt sent a pass to Andreas Johnsson before Johnsson setup Mercer (5) in the slot on a tic-tac-goal to cut Boston’s lead in half as the Devils got on the scoreboard and trailed, 2-1, 28 seconds after Marchand scored his first goal of the afternoon.

Johnsson (5) and Bratt (6) notched the assists on Mercer’s goal at 4:38 of the second period.

For the third time in their last five periods, Boston allowed a goal less than one minute after scoring a goal.

About two minutes later, however, the B’s extended their lead back to two-goals as Marchand worked a pass to Pastrnak for a blast that rebounded off of Bernier’s glove before Marchand (8) collected the garbage and snuck the puck past Bernier’s left pad.

Pastrnak (7) and McAvoy (8) had the assists on Marchand’s second goal of the game– his 50th career two-goal game– and the Bruins led, 3-1, at 6:52.

Less than a minute later, Taylor Hall hooked Alexander Holtz and presented the Devils with a power play at 7:14, but New Jersey wasn’t able to beat Boston’s penalty kill.

Midway through the middle frame, Brandon Carlo cross checked Nico Hischier away from the play and both players cut a rut to their respective penalty boxes– Carlo for cross checking, Hischier for embellishment– at 13:50.

After two minutes of 4-on-4 action, the two teams returned to 5-on-5 action without any issue.

In the waning minute of the middle frame, Charlie Coyle banked the puck off of a referee inadvertently, which led to a fortunate bounce for the Devils as Mercer faked a shot and passed the puck off to Bratt (3) for a one-timer goal to pull New Jersey back to within one at 19:24 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and, 26-18, in shots on goal– including a, 12-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (9-5), hits (14-8) and faceoff win% (59-41) after two periods, while New Jersey led in takeaways (17-9).

Both teams had three giveaways each through two periods.

The Devils were 0/3 and the Bruins were 1/2 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Midway through the final frame, Pastrnak got a shot off that ended up loose in the crease after Bernier made the initial save, but in the ensuing scrum Bergeron (6) tapped the rubber biscuit over the goal line to give Boston another two-goal lead, 4-2, at 10:49 of the third period.

Pastrnak (8) and McAvoy (9) snagged the assists on Bergeron’s goal– completing a three-assist afternoon for McAvoy (his first since Jan. 26, 2021, in a, 3-2, overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins).

Seconds prior to the goal, Hall had made incidental contact in Boston’s own zone with Devils defender, Ryan Graves, who was slow to get up and off the ice under his own power.

Berner vacated the crease with 2:33 remaining in the game for an extra attacker, but briefly returned to the net before leaving once more around 1:33 left in regulation after New Jersey iced the puck.

Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, used his timeout after a stoppage in play with 1:21 remaining in the action so that assistant coach, Mark Recchi, could drum up a plan to rally his team and tie the game.

Bruins assistant coach, Chris Kelly, had other ideas, however.

In the last minute of regulation, Bratt turned the puck over on a giveaway to DeBrusk’s skates, leading DeBrusk (3) to gain control of the puck, skate forward and hit the empty twine from the center ice logo on an unassisted effort.

DeBrusk’s empty net goal cemented a, 5-2, victory for Boston at 19:06 of the third period.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won and finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 36-29, despite trailing the Devils in shots on goal in the third period alone, 11-10.

The B’s exited the building with the lead in blocked shots (25-8), hits (16-11) and faceoff win% (54-46), while New Jersey left their home ice with the advantage in giveaways (8-4).

As there were no penalties called in the third period, the Devils finished Saturday afternoon’s effort 0/3 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/2 on the skater advantage.

Boston improved to 6-3-0 (2-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 6-0-0 (2-0-0 on the road) when leading after one period and 5-1-0 (2-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

New Jersey, meanwhile, fell to 4-4-1 (2-3-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-4-1 (1-3-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 1-4-1 (1-3-0 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins return home Sunday to host the Montréal Canadiens at TD Garden for the first time since the 2019-20 season before having five days off prior to their next road game in Philadelphia next Saturday (Nov. 20th).

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Devils down Bruins, 4-3, in overtime

For the first time this season on home ice, the New Jersey Devils forced a comeback after trailing in the second period and won as they defeated the Boston Bruins, 4-3, in overtime Tuesday night at Prudential Center’s final home game of the 2020-21 season.

Mackenzie Blackwood (13-16-4, 3.05 goals-against average, .902 save percentage in 33 games played) made 33 saves on 36 shots against in the win for New Jersey.

Boston goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (9-6-4, 2.53 goals-against average, .905 save percentage in 19 games played) turned aside 17 out of 21 shots faced in the overtime loss.

The Bruins fell to 31-14-7 (69 points) on the season, but remained in control of 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Devils improved to 18-28-7 (43 points) overall and stuck in 7th place in the division.

Boston finished their regular season series with New Jersey 3-3-2 overall in 2020-21.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body) and John Moore (hip) on Tuesday, while Kevan Miller (maintenance) and Jakub Zboril were removed from the lineup as Brandon Carlo returned to action from his most recent oblique injury that he sustained on April 1st against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Mike Reilly returned in Zboril’s place on the third pairing with Connor Clifton after missing Monday night’s game due to being “pretty banged up,” to paraphrase B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy.

Cassidy made one change among his forwards, inserting Trent Frederic on the fourth line in place of Karson Kuhlman.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Swayman served as Halak’s backup on Tuesday– giving Tuukka Rask the night off as the playoffs draw near.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players included Chris Wagner, Greg McKegg, Moore, Kase, Rask, Steven Kampfer, Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi and Miller.

Matt Grzelcyk tied up Miles Wood away from the puck and yielded the game’s first power play to the Devils as Grzelcyk cut a rut to the penalty box for interference at 4:16 of the first period.

New Jersey was not successful on their first skater advantage of the night, but Boston began a run of three consecutive infractions as Grzelcyk was the first to commit a minor infraction, then Clifton slashed Yegor Sharangovich at 6:42 and finally, Charlie McAvoy tripped Sharangovich at 8:39– resulting in three seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage for the Devils.

New Jersey’s two-skater advantage quickly dwindled down to a regular 5-on-4 power play, but not for long as Pavel Zacha (14) wired a one-timer past Halak off of the ensuing faceoff while Clifton was set to exit the sin bin and McAvoy was in the box.

Jack Hughes (19) and Nico Hischier (3) tallied the assists on Zacha’s first goal of the game as the Devils took a, 1-0, lead thanks to the power-play goal at 8:42 of the first period.

As Clifton’s minor expired, McAvoy was freed from the box thanks to Boston’s penalty kill allowing a power-play goal against and the game resumed at full strength.

Moments later, Nathan Bastian hooked Brad Marchand and cut a rut to the box at 11:27, presenting the Bruins with their first power play opportunity of the night.

The B’s did not convert on the skater advantage, however.

Entering the first intermission, the Devils led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Bruins, 15-9, in shots on goal.

New Jersey led in blocked shots (5-1) and giveaways (2-0), while Boston held the advantage in hits (13-5) and faceoff win percentage (68-32).

Both teams had four takeaways each, while the Devils were 1/3 and the B’s were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Nicholas Merkley kicked off the second period with a hooking infraction at 3:36 and presented Boston with their second power play of the game.

This time, Patrice Bergeron (21) fired a one-timer over Blackwood’s glove from his usual spot as the bumper on the power play to tie the game, 1-1.

David Pastrnak (25) and Grzelcyk (13) had the assists on Bergeron’s power-play goal at 4:36.

Moments later, Pastrnak hooked Wood and cut a rut to the box at 7:49, but Boston’s penalty kill managed to kill off Pastrnak’s minor infraction without issue.

Late in the period, Taylor Hall dropped a pass back to Grzelcyk for a shot before the puck deflected off of Hall’s (8) leg and found its way into the back of net– giving Boston their first lead of the night in the process, 2-1.

Grzelcyk (14) and David Krejci (30) had the assists on Hall’s goal at 14:02 of the second period.

As Hall was passing through Blackwood’s “no fly zone”, New Jersey’s head coach, Lindy Ruff, used a coach’s challenge on the grounds that he believed Hall had made contact with the Devils’ netminder and therefore interfered with Blackwood’s ability to make a save.

Video review confirmed that Hall, in fact, had never touched Blackwood, yielding an automatic delay of game penalty against New Jersey, which was served by Jesper Boqvist at 14:02.

Though Boston did not score on the ensuing power play, they entered the second intermission with the lead on the scoreboard, 2-1, and in shots on goal, 27-13, including a, 12-4, advantage in the second period alone.

After 40 minutes of action, the Devils held the advantage in blocked shots (7-4) and takeaways (6-5), while the Bruins led in hits (18-10) and faceoff win% (64-36).

Both teams had four giveaways each as New Jersey was 1/4 and Boston was 1/3 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Bovqist (4) tied the game on a loose puck that was initially shot by Damon Severson, then blocked by McAvoy.

Severson (16) and Marián Studenič (1) had the assists on Boqvist’s garbage goal from the doorstep as the Devils tied the game, 2-2, at 9:10 of the third period.

Boston answered back in a hurry as Sean Kuraly (4) redirected a shot pass from Pastrnak with his skate as he was skating backwards through the low slot towards the goal line to put the B’s ahead, 3-2, at 10:42.

Pastrnak (26) and Reilly (26) had the assists on Kuraly’s goal, but the Bruins didn’t have the lead for that long.

Once again, New Jersey tied things up as Sharangovich (16) sent a wrist shot clean past Halak on a breakaway under the Bruins goaltender’s blocker less than two minutes after the B’s took the lead.

Severson (17) and Kevin Bahl (2) notched the assists on Sharangovich’s goal as the Devils tied the game, 3-3, at 12:41 of the third period.

There were no more goals, nor any penalties as the two clubs necessitated overtime to determine a winner on Tuesday night.

After regulation, the Bruins and Devils were tied, 3-3, on the scoreboard, while Boston held the advantage in shots on goal, 36-19, including a, 9-6, advantage in the third period alone.

New Jersey led in blocked shots (11-9), takeaways (9-8) and giveaways (10-6), while the B’s led in hits (26-18) and faceoff win% (64-36).

As there were no penalties called in overtime (despite a delayed penalty waiting to be called against Boston that was ultimately negated by New Jersey’s game-winning goal), the Devils finished 1/4 and the Bruins went 1/3 on the power play on Tuesday.

About midway through the extra frame, Zacha (15) waltzed through the lot slot and pulled the puck to his backhand before elevating a shot over Halak’s glove side– leaving the Bruins goaltender in a fit of rage afterward as he skated off the ice and took out his frustrations on his stick.

Hughes (20) and Will Butcher (9) celebrated their assists on Zacha’s second goal of the game, as well as the, 4-3, win.

Meanwhile, reality had set in for Boston’s backup goaltender as Halak made his first start since April 3rd– amidst an appearance on the league’s COVID protocol list, as well as the emergence of Swayman as Boston’s likely backup netminder entering the postseason– Tuesday night’s effort did not help his case for a regular role with the Bruins.

New Jersey finished the night with a, 2-0, advantage in shots on goal in the overtime period alone, but trailed Boston in total shots on goal, 36-21.

The Devils also wrapped up Tuesday night’s action leading in blocked shots (11-10) and giveaways (10-7), while the Bruins finished the game leading in hits (26-18) and faceoff win% (64-36).

The B’s fell to 3-5 in overtime (7-7 past regulation) this season, while the Devils improved to 4-2 in overtime and 4-7 overall past regulation in 2020-21.

Boston also fell to 8-9-4 (3-3-3 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 5-8-3 (2-5-3 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 22-0-3 (9-0-1 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, New Jersey is now 15-10-2 (7-8-0 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 13-3-1 (7-2-0 at home) when leading after one period and 2-22-2 (1-13-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins return home to host the New York Rangers on Thursday and Saturday before taking on the New York Islanders in the final home game of the regular season on May 10th.

Boston concludes the 2020-21 regular season on the road against the Washington Capitals on May 11th.

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Third period rally sparks Boston’s, 5-4, shootout win over Devils

For the fourth time this season, the Boston Bruins came back from trailing in the third period to winning past regulation with a, 5-4, shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The B’s lead the league in third period multi-goal comeback wins this season with four– setting a franchise record in the process.

Jaroslav Halak (8-5-3, 2.27 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 16 games played) stopped 31 out of 35 shots faced in the shootout win for Boston.

Devils goaltender, Mackenzie Blackwood (9-9-2, 2.87 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in 20 games played) made 44 saves on 48 shots against in the shootout loss.

Boston improved to 18-9-5 (41 points) on the season and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while New Jersey fell to 13-16-5 (31 points) and remained in 7th place in the division.

Tuesday night, the Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Sean Kuraly (COVID protocol) and Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol), while Brandon Carlo and Brad Marchand made their returns to the lineup.

Carlo made his first appearance in 10 games since sustaining an upper body injury (concussion, though it was never officially stated by the team) against the Washington Capitals on March 5th, while Marchand returned from COVID protocol after a false positive kept him out of the last two games.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, adjusted his lineup, returning Marchand to his usual role on the first line left wing alongside B’s captain, Patrice Bergeron, at center and David Pastrnak at right wing.

Cassidy moved Trent Frederic to center the fourth line as a result and scratched Jack Studnicka.

On defense, Jeremy Lauzon suited up alongside Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while Matt Grzelcyk was partnered with Carlo to round out the top-four defenders.

Cassidy put Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton together on the third pairing, while Chris Wagner, Greg McKegg, Studnicka, Moore, Kase, Rask, Steven Kampfer, Kuraly, DeBrusk, Jarred Tinordi, Callum Booth and Miller made up Boston’s list of taxi squad members, healthy scratches and/or injured players out of the lineup on Tuesday.

Jack Ahcan was reassigned from Boston’s taxi squad to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Monday.

Miles Wood (11) kicked things off with the game’s first goal on New Jersey’s first shot of the night after stopping P.K. Subban’s shot pass before firing it over Halak’s glove from the slot.

Subban (12) had the only assist on the goal as the Devils took a, 1-0, lead at 1:28 of the first period.

Moments later, the Bruins evened things up, 1-1, when Nick Ritchie (10) mustered a shot from just above the faceoff circle off of Blackwood’s glove hand and into the twine for Boston’s first 5-on-5 goal against New Jersey this season.

David Krejci (18) and Craig Smith (6) tallied the assists on Ritchie’s goal at 5:55.

Almost midway into the opening frame, an odd bounce didn’t go Karson Kuhlman’s way while the Bruins forward was pressuring to keep the puck in the attacking zone led to a New Jersey breakaway the other way for Devils forward, Michael McLeod.

McLeod (5) deked, pulled the puck to his backhand and beat Halak down low to give the Devils a, 2-1, lead at 9:34 of the first period.

Jesper Boqvist (1) and Ryan Murray (5) notched the assists on McLeod’s goal.

Entering the first intermission, New Jersey led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Boston in shots on goal, 12-11.

The Bruins also led in blocked shots (2-1), takeaways (4-2) and hits (12-6), while both teams had two giveaways each and were 50-5o in faceoff win percentage after one period of action.

Neither team had yet to see any time on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Travis Zajac (5) tipped a shot from Jesper Bratt through Halak’s seven-hole on the blocker side to give the Devils a two-goal lead, 3-1, at 3:45 of the second period.

Bratt (15) and Murray (6) had the assists on Zajac’s goal, which was his 200th tally of his National Hockey League career in 1,021 games (all with New Jersey).

Moments later, Marchand yielded the first power play of the night to the Devils after receiving a roughing minor at 9;20 of the second period.

New Jersey did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Shortly after being free from the penalty box, Marchand made a big hit in the attacking zone that resulted in Bratt and Marchand exchanging pleasantries and receiving roughing infractions at 12:59 after the Bruins winger landed a takedown of the Devils defender.

About a minute later, Subban slashed Krejci and presented Boston with a 4-on-3 advantage for about 52 seconds before the Bruins would have an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.

Nearly three minutes after his second roughing penalty of the game, Marchand (13) wired a catch and release snap shot past Blackwood’s blocker to pull Boston to within one.

Bergeron (17) and Krejci (19) had the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-2, at 15:48.

Less than two minutes later, a costly turnover for Lauzon in his own zone off of a faceoff benefited Kyle Palmieri (8) with a quick unassisted goal to put New Jersey on top, 4-2, at 17:06.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Devils led, 4-2, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Bruins in shots on goal, 25-23.

Boston held the advantage in takeaways (9-6), hits (18-15) and faceoff win% (57-43), while New Jersey led in blocked shots (8-4) and giveaways (4-3).

The Devils were 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/1 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.

Midway through the third period, McAvoy (4) buried a rebound to bring the Bruins back to within one– trialing, 4-3, at 10:22 of the third period.

Smith (7) and Marchand (23) had the assists on McAvoy’s goal.

Boston went on the power play at 13:43 when Damon Severson caught McAvoy with a high stick, but didn’t convert on the ensuing advantage.

Moments later, however, Grzelcyk (3) sent a wrist shot from the high slot off an attacking zone faceoff win past Blackwood on the far side to tie the game, 4-4.

Smith (8) and Krejci (20) each had their third assist of the night on Grzlecyk’s goal at 16:00 of the third period– forcing overtime after Bergeron’s hooking minor at 16:18 was successfully killed by Boston’s penalty kill.

The Bruins finished the 60-minute effort leading in shots on goal, 44-32, including a, 19-9, advantage in the third period alone.

The B’s also led in hits (23-19), while the Devils led in blocked shots (11-7) and giveaways (8-3) entering the overtime period.

Both teams had 11 takeaways each and were 50-50 in faceoff win% heading into the extra frame.

New Jersey was 0/2 and Boston was 1/2 on the power play entering overtime.

Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, started Pavel Zacha, Bratt and Severson in overtime, while Cassidy countered with Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy to kick things off.

McAvoy slashed Severson while trailing on a play about midway through the overtime period, yielding a 4-on-3 advantage to New Jersey at 2:39 of overtime.

Boston then utilized their timeout to counter New Jersey’s power play and hold things off until the seconds ticked down and a shootout commenced.

Entering the shootout, Boston and New Jersey were tied, 4-4, on the scoreboard, while the Bruins led in shots on goal, 48-35, including a, 4-3, advantage in overtime alone.

The B’s finished the night leading in hits (24-22) and and faceoff win% (51-49), while the Devils wrapped up the night leading in blocked shots (12-8) and giveaways (8-3).

New Jersey finished Tuesday night’s action 0/3 on the power play, while Boston went 1/2 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins elected to shoot second in the shootout.

Ruff sent out Zacha, but the Devils forward’s attempt was stopped by Halak with a routine pad save.

Cassidy countered with Charlie Coyle, who promptly deked while skating towards Blackwood, pulling the New Jersey netminder out of position.

Coyle went from his backhand to his forehand while wrapping the puck around Blackwood– slipping it between the Devils goalie and the post to give Boston the, 1-0, advantage after the first round of the shootout.

New Jersey turned to Palmieri to even things up, but Halak got a chunk of the puck with his blocker before the rubber biscuit was deflected wide of the net.

Pastrnak mimicked Coyle’s goal– going from his backhand to his forehand and slipping the rubber biscuit between Blackwood’s outstretched pad and the post, only this time with less room between the Devils’ goaltender’s skate and the metal goal frame.

The Bruins won the shootout, 2-0, and added to their final total on the scoreboard– defeating the Devils in the process, 5-4.

Boston improved to 2-3-1 against New Jersey in 2020-21, as well as 3-2 in shootouts overall this season.

The Devils, meanwhile, fell to 0-4 in shootouts this season.

The Bruins improved to 6-6-2 (3-4-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while the Devils dropped to 11-7-1 (7-2-1 on the road) when scoring first in 2020-21.

Boston is now 4-6-2 (2-2-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 4-5-1 (3-3-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season, while New Jersey fell to 8-3-1 (4-1-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-2-1 (5-1-1 on the road) when leading after the second period this season.

The B’s finished the month of March with a 6-4-3 record and will begin April with a pair of home games against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and Saturday.

Boston is 2-1-1 in their current seven-game homestand.

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Marchand helps Bruins beat Devils, 3-2, in shootout victory

The Boston Bruins kicked off the 2020-21 regular season with a, 3-2, shootout win against New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday night.

Tuukka Rask (1-0-0, 1.85 goals against average, .909 save percentage in one game played, one start) made 20 saves on 22 shots faced in the shootout win for the Bruins.

Mackenzie Blackwood (0-0-1, 1.85 goals against average, .946 save percentage in one game played, one start) turned aside 35 out of 37 shots against in the shootout loss for the Devils.

Boston improved to 1-0-0 (two points) on the season, while New Jersey fell to 0-0-1 (one point) on the season.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, improved to 162-66-34 in 262 games with Boston.

Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, kicked off his new gig with a shootout loss as both teams will face each other seven more times this season in the temporarily realigned MassMutual NHL East Division for the 2020-21 season.

For the first time in franchise history (97 seasons), the Bruins will not face the Montreal Canadiens at all in the regular season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting temporary division realignment with the United States’ border with Canada currently closed.

Prior to Thursday night’s action in New Jersey, Patrice Bergeron was named the 20th captain in franchise history on Jan. 6th, replacing Zdeno Chara, who served as the club’s captain from 2006-20, before departing for the Washington Capitals in free agency on Dec. 30, 2020.

David Krejci and Brad Marchand will serve as alternate captains for Boston this season.

Krejci has been an alternate captain since the 2013-14 season, while Marchand has worn an “A” on his jersey off-and-on since the 2018-19 season.

As a result of the ongoing global pandemic, teams are allowed to carry extra players on a “taxi squad” that will not count against their daily salary cap limit.

The Bruins have not announced who they will utilize on their “taxi squad” this season, but Trent Frederic, Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Dan Vladar and Greg McKegg all made the trip to New Jersey with the team.

David Pastrnak (hip surgery in the offseason) was out of the lineup against the Devils Thursday night, but is expected to return to play ahead of schedule since his original prognosis when he underwent a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair on Sept. 16th.

Craig Smith (lower body injury) missed Thursday night’s action and is yet to make his B’s debut since signing a three-year contract worth $3.100 million per season on Oct. 10th.

Cassidy made a few adjustments to his lines as a result of the injuries and free agency departures in the offseason.

The first line consisted of Marchand at left wing, Bergeron at center and Studnicka on right wing.

Rounding out the top-six forwards on the second line were Ondrej Kase, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

Charlie Coyle centered the third line with Nick Ritchie at his left side and Anders Bjork on his right side, while Sean Kuraly centered the fourth line with Frederic and Chris Wagner as his wings.

On defense, Cassidy started Matt Grzelcyk and Kevan Miller– honoring Miller in his first game back in 651 days since multiple knee injuries dating back to April 2019.

Jeremy Lauzon was paired with Charlie McAvoy and Jakub Zboril was partnered with Brandon Carlo.

Karson Kuhlman remains in COVID protocol, while Par Lindholm, John Moore and Connor Clifton were healthy scratches. Smith and Pastrnak were out of the lineup due to their injuries.

Early in the opening frame, Jesper Boqvist slashed Frederic and presented the Bruins with their first power play opportunity of the night at 6:14 of the first period.

Boston’s skater advantage didn’t last long as Grzelcyk caught Yegor Sharangovich with a slash at 7:16.

After an abbreviated period of 4-on-4 action followed by a short New Jersey power play, neither team could muster anything on the scoresheet.

McAvoy laid out Sharangovich with a crushing hit at 13:19, but was too far from the puck and assessed a minor infraction for interference.

The Devils were not successful on the ensuing power play, however.

Late in the first frame, Miles Wood collided with Rask and cut a rut to the box with a goaltender interference infraction at 17:02.

Boston didn’t waste much time getting to work on the resulting power play as Marchand (1) one-timed a redirection past Blackwood from just outside the crease to give the Bruins the first lead of the night, 1-0.

Krejci (1) and Bergeron (1) notched the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal at 17:40 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins were dominating in possession, on the scoreboard, 1-0, and in shots on goal, 16-4.

The B’s also held the advantage in faceoff win percentage, 67-33.

New Jersey, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (7-3), giveaways (8-2) and hits (12-5), while both teams had one takeaway each in the first 20 minutes of game action.

The Devils were 0/2 and the Bruins were 1/2 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Kuraly tripped Sharangovich at 2:41 of the second period and presented New Jersey with an early skater advantage in the period, but Boston’s penalty kill remained strong.

McAvoy was guilty of hooking Janne Kuokkanen at 7:56, but once again New Jersey’s power play couldn’t score.

Midway through the game, the Devils committed a bench minor for too many skaters on the ice at 10:53.

Newcomer, Andreas Johnsson, (acquired in the offseason via a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs) served the penalty while Boston’s power play went powerless.

Through 40 minutes of play on Thursday, the Bruins held onto the, 1-0, lead and led in shots on goal, 26-11– including a, 10-7, advantage in the second period alone.

New Jersey led in blocked shots (10-6), takeaways (6-2), giveaways (16-4) and hits (20-8), while Boston led in faceoff win% (63-37) after two periods.

The Devils were 0/4 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/3 entering the dressing room for the second intermission.

Kuokkanen was penalized for holding Kuraly and yielded another power play to Boston at 6:18 of the third period.

Shortly after killing off the infraction, Wood (1) broke free from the Bruins’ defense and snapped a shot over Rask’s blocker side to tie the game, 1-1, at 8:51 of the final frame of regulation.

Jack Hughes (1) had the only assist on Wood’s goal.

Moments later, Krejci hooked Travis Zajac and was sent to the sin bin at 10:14, but New Jersey’s power play didn’t last long as Wood ran into Rask again and picked up another goaltender interference infraction at 11:13.

The two clubs had about a minute of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play followed for the Bruins.

Ritchie (1) scored a close range goal similar to Marchand’s to put the B’s back on top, 2-1, with a power-play goal of his own.

Marchand (1) and Grzelcyk (1) tallied the assists on Ritchie’s goal at 13:12, but Boston didn’t hold the lead for long as they surrendered a wacky goal 34 seconds later.

Ty Smith (1) scored his first career National Hockey League goal as the last Devils player to touch the puck before it bounced off of McAvoy, then Lauzon, Lauzon’s stick, McAvoy again and finally floated over Rask and into the twine.

The fluke goal tied the game, 2-2, and was assisted by Matt Tennyson (1) and Hughes (2) at 13:46 of the third period.

At the end of regulation, the score remained even, despite Boston outshooting the Devils, 35-18.

The Bruins had a, 9-7, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone, while New Jersey led in blocked shots (13-6), takeaways (11-3), giveaways (19-6) and hits (26-13) after regulation.

Boston led in faceoff win%, 58-42, entering overtime.

As no penalties were called in the extra frame, the Bruins finished the night 2/5 on the power play, while the Devils went 0/5 on the skater advantage.

The two teams swapped chances in overtime– including a couple of heart-stopping moments where the Devils nearly completed the comeback, but neither side could seal the deal on an overtime win.

Despite Cassidy’s best efforts starting Coyle, DeBrusk and McAvoy in overtime, as well as Ruff’s lineup of Hughes, Kyle Palmieri and P.K. Subban in 3-on-3 OT, a shootout was necessary.

The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 37-22, despite being outshot, 4-2, in overtime alone.

New Jersey finished Thursday’s effort leading in blocked shots (14-7), giveaways (19-6) and hits (26-13), while the Bruins settled for the final advantage in faceoff win% (57-43).

The Devils elected to shoot first in the shootout and sent Nikita Gusev out to get the job in round one, but Rask stoned him cold as Gusev attempted to go five-hole on the veteran netminder.

Coyle was denied by Blackwood with a pad save as the Bruins forward tried to pull the New Jersey goaltender out of position.

Boqvist was stopped by Rask in a routine save while Kase couldn’t sneak one past Blackwood’s blocker side in the second round of the shootout.

After Hughes lost the puck while attempting to dangle his way into the low slot, Cassidy sent Marchand to try to get the win for Boston.

Marchand came through for his coach and the rest of the Bruins with an off-tempo shot through Blackwood’s five-hole after getting the New Jersey goaltender to commit to his fake handiwork before taking the shot.

The Bruins won the shootout, 1-0, after three rounds and clinched the, 3-2, shootout victory over the Devils to start the 2020-21 season.

It was Boston’s first shootout win since Feb. 20, 2019, when the B’s downed the Vegas Golden Knights on the road in what was also a, 3-2, shootout victory.

With the win, the Bruins improved to 1-0-0 when leading after the first period, 1-0-0 when leading after the second period, 1-0-0 when scoring the game’s first goal and 1-0 in shootouts (1-0 past regulation) this season.

Boston continues their three-game road trip on Saturday afternoon with a rematch against the Devils in New Jersey at 1 p.m. ET before heading to Nassau Coliseum on Monday (Jan. 18th) for a game with the New York Islanders.

The Bruins return to Boston for their home opener at TD Garden on Jan. 21st against the Philadelphia Flyers.

There will be no fans in attendance in Boston due to COVID-19 restrictions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Devils ring in 2020 with, 3-2, shootout win over Bruins

The New Jersey Devils completed a, 3-2, shootout victory comeback over the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center on Tuesday afternoon to close out 2019.

Mackenzie Blackwood (13-10-5 record, 2.85 goals against, .907 save percentage in 30 games played) made 28 saves on 30 shots against for a .933 SV% in the win for the Devils.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (9-3-5, 2.20 GAA, .930 SV% in 17 games played) stopped 42 out of 44 shots faced for a .955 SV% in the shootout loss.

Boston fell to 24-7-10 (58 points) on the season, but remained in command of the Atlantic Divison, while New Jersey improved to 14-19-6 (34 points) and stayed in 8th place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s also fell to 10-6-2 on the road this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Torey Krug (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (lower body), Connor Clifton (upper body) and David Krejci (lower body) on Tuesday.

Miller has now officially missed half of the season, since Boston played their 41st game of the regular season in New Jersey.

As a result of the numerous injuries on the blue line for the B’s, Jeremy Lauzon was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Monday.

Lauzon has 1-9–10 totals in 35 games with Providence this season and made his season debut with Boston on the second defensive pairing with Matt Grzelcyk at his side.

Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) was assigned to Providence on Monday in what might be a conditioning stint, if not just a return to playing action with a plethora of depth forwards seeking playing time in Boston.

Kuhlman has not played since being injured in Toronto on Oct. 19th.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made changes to his lineup from Sunday night’s, 3-2, victory against Buffalo.

Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie were moved up to the second line, while Jake DeBrusk slid down to the third line left wing slot as Par Lindholm and David Backes drew back into the lineup.

Meanwhile, on defense, Lauzon was paired with Grzelcyk and John Moore remained with Steven Kampfer, while Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo earned first pairing duties.

Danton Heinen was the only healthy scratch for Boston on Tuesday.

Devils defender, P.K. Subban, caught Sean Kuraly without the puck and was assessed a minor penalty for interference at 1:17 of the first period.

The Bruins capitalized on the ensuing power play when David Pastrnak unloaded a shot on a one-timer that trickled through Blackwood, but slowed before reaching the goal line.

As a result, Brad Marchand (20) ensured the puck reached the twine by tapping it in from the crease and gave Boston the, 1-0, lead on the power play.

Pastrnak (30) and Grzelcyk (9) had the assists on Marchand’s power play goal at 2:03.

Both teams swapped chances for the rest of the opening frame, but no more penalties were called or goals scored heading into the first intermission.

Boston led New Jersey, 1-0, on the scoreboard and held the advantage in shots on goal, 14-10.

The Bruins also led in blocked shots (7-4), while the Devils had the advantage in giveaways (4-2), hits (8-4) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Both teams had one takeaway aside and the Bruins were 1/1 on the skater advantage, while New Jersey had yet to see any time on the power play.

Marchand went to the box nine seconds into the second period after tripping up Devils forward, Nikita Gusev, but New Jersey couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.

Moments later, Kuraly worked the puck down low and squibbed it through Blackwood into the crease and off Sami Vatanen’s skate, whereby Joakim Nordstrom (4) poked the loose puck over the goal line to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

Kuraly (12) and Carlo (9) tallied the assists on Nordstrom’s goal at 4:27 of the second period and Boston led, 2-0.

Almost midway through the middle frame, New Jersey sustained offensive zone pressure for a solid few minutes.

The Devils re-entered the attacking zone on a quick break while the Bruins were in the midst of a line change, as Blake Coleman dropped the puck back to Gusev for a give-and-go back to Coleman (12) for the one-timer goal at 8:58.

Gusev (16) and Vatanen (16) had the assists on Coleman’s goal as New Jersey cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.

Less than a minute later, Travis Zajac went to the penalty box for tripping Marchand at 9:07, but Boston’s resulting power play was short lived as Grzelcyk tripped up Nico Hischier at 9:20.

The two sides played 1:47 of 4-on-4 action before the Devils had an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.

Entering the second intermission, the Bruins led the Devils, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 23-22, in shots on goal– despite New Jersey holding the, 12-9, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (9-6), while the Devils led in takeaways (4-3), giveaways (8-4), hits (15-7) and faceoff win% (55-45).

New Jersey went 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage after 40 minutes played.

Lauzon opened things up in the final frame of regulation with an interference minor against Miles Wood at 2:34 of the third period.

New Jersey didn’t score on the ensuing power play.

Almost midway through the third period, Nordstrom tripped up Mirco Mueller and was sent to the sin bin at 7:55, but once again the Devils couldn’t convert on the skater advantage.

A few minutes past the midpoint in the third period, Jesper Bratt (8) tipped in a shot from Subban by standing right in front of Halak– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Subban (5) and Hischier (15) notched the assists on Bratt’s goal at 13:11 and New Jersey was in full swing with momentum on their side.

Neither team took another penalty until overtime and the two teams finished regulation tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard with the Devils leading in shots on goal, 41-28– including a, 19-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (15-13), takeaways (9-8) and faceoff win% (51-49), while New Jersey led in giveaways (14-5) and hits (19-13).

The Devils were 0/4 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into overtime.

Cassidy started Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and Moore in the extra frame for Boston, while Alain Nasreddine began overtime with Hischier, Damon Severson and Vatanen on the ice.

Late in the overtime period, Bratt hooked Kuraly and was assessed a minor infraction at 4:48.

As a result, Cassidy used his timeout with 11.6 seconds left in overtime to drum up a plan if the Bruins won the ensuing draw and could muster a shot on goal before time expired.

At the horn, the B’s and Devils were heading for a shootout, tied, 2-2, through 65 minutes of action.

New Jersey finished the effort leading in shots on goal (44-30), giveaways (14-5) and hits (19-13), while Boston led in blocked shots (16-14).

The two sides were even in faceoff win% (50-50), while the Devils went 0/4 and the Bruins went 1/3 on the power play.

Nasreddine elected to shoot first in the shootout and sent Gusev out to face Halak in the opening round, but Gusev shot the puck square at the B’s goaltender.

Cassidy responded with Coyle to kick things off for Boston in the shootout, but Coyle missed the net after deking and losing the puck off his forehand while losing an edge in front of the crease.

Jesper Boqvist shot second for New Jersey and fired a shot directly at Halak.

Pastrnak was next up for Boston, but was denied by Blackwood as the Devils goaltender made a glove save while falling as Pastrnak stickhandled the puck and let it fly.

Devils forward, Kyle Palmieri, began the third round of the shootout with a shot off Halak’s glove and wide.

Palmieri was followed by Marchand in the third round of the shootout and for once the Bruins winger didn’t opt for a five-hole attempt.

Instead, Marchand rang the post over Blackwood’s blocker.

Through three rounds of the shootout, the two clubs were knotted, 0-0.

Wayne Simmonds began the fourth round of the shootout with an attempt at wrapping the puck around Halak’s outstretched legs, but Halak shut the door between the post and his skate.

Cassidy sent out DeBrusk to break up the deadlock, but DeBrusk crashed the net with speed and was denied by Blackwood’s leg pad as the New Jersey goaltender cut down on the angle of DeBrusk’s approach by playing out of the crease a little.

Just as it seemed like a shootout from hell, the Devils elected to utilize Jack Hughes’ skillset in the fifth round of the shootout.

Hughes dangled the puck and got Halak to commit to a hybrid stance before firing a shot below Halak’s glove and inside the post for the first goal of the shootout– putting New Jersey in command.

Not to be outdone, noted Bruins fourth liner, Chris Wagner, was sent out to tie the shootout and did just that after a nifty dangle to his backhand before roofing the puck over Blackwood and through the top-shelf– tying the shootout, 1-1, after five rounds.

In a grand twist from the other night’s own-goal in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Severson was sent out onto the ice to try to give New Jersey control of their own destiny and the Hockey Gods responded in kind.

Severson deked and scored a goal that was reminiscent of Wagner’s only about a minute prior with a backhand that he elevated over Halak to put the Devils ahead in the shootout, 2-1.

With the game on his stick, Bergeron had to score to extend the shootout, but Blackwood snagged the puck out of mid-air with his glove– denying Bergeron of yet another shootout goal.

No. 37 in black and gold hasn’t scored a shootout goal in about five calendar years as the Devils emerged with the, 3-2, shootout victory on home ice.

The B’s fell to 18-1-2 when having a two-goal lead at any time this season and fell to 0-6 in shootouts this season, while New Jersey improved to 2-4 overall past overtime.

The Bruins fell to 17-5-6 when scoring the game’s first goal, 15-3-2 when leading after the first period and 13-0-4 when leading after two periods this season.

Boston kicks off 2020 with a two-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and Edmonton Oilers on Saturday before making a quick visit to Nashville to face the Predators next Tuesday.

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Previews

New Jersey Devils 2017-’18 Season Preview

New Jersey Devils

28-40-14, 70 points, last in the Eastern Conference

Additions: F Brian Boyle, C Nico Hischier, F Marcus Johansson, W Drew Stafford

Subtractions: W Beau Bennett (signed with STL), F Mike Cammalleri (signed with LAK), W Patrik Elias (retired), F Jacob Josefson (signed with BUF), D Jonathon Merrill (drafted by VGK), W Devante Smith-Pelly (signed with WSH)

Offseason Analysis: Ignoring the lockout-shortened seasons of 1994-’95 and 2012-‘13, last year’s 70-point effort was the Devils’ worst campaign since 1988-’89. That ensuing draft, New Jersey selected future four-time All-Star RW Bill Guerin, who eventually contributed 11 points in the Devils’ 1995 run to the Stanley Cup – including an assist on C Neal Broten’s Cup-clinching goal.

Especially in light of recent draft standouts at the center position (think Jack EichelAuston Matthews, Connor McDavid, etc.), General Manager Ray Shero is hoping last year’s struggles that allowed him to draft Hischier with the first overall pick will yield similar results in the near future as he works to rebuild the club back to the level of success it’s experienced for most of the past three decades.

The speedy Swiss 18-year-old brings 38-48-86 totals from his time with QMJHL side Halifax last year, but he alone won’t be enough to significantly improve the third-worst offense in the league. That’s where former first-rounder Johansson and his career-high 24-34-58 totals from a season ago with the Capitals comes into play. Since both C Jesper Boqvist and W Fabian Zetterlund – the Devils’ second and third selections in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft – are expected to spend at least one more season in their native Sweden, it’ll be up to them to spearhead any attacking improvements for Head Coach John Hynes’ club alongside Taylor Hall (20-33-53) and Kyle Palmieri (26-27-53), last season’s co-leaders in points for the team.

Since the addition of 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner D Will Butcher on August 27, the situation along Jersey’s blue line could be evolving even though the Devils did little more than draft D Reilly Walsh with their second third-round pick, but it remains to be seen if Butcher will join Captain Andy Greene and co. on the senior team or if he’ll be assigned to Binghamton on AHL assignment.

Of note in this situation are the contracts, or lack thereof, of two Devils defensemen of the same mold: 26-year-old John Moore (12-10-22) and 23-year-old Damon Severson (3-28-31). Moore will be an unrestricted free agent following this season, while Severson is currently a restricted free agent. Should the Devils be unable to agree to terms with Severson – which would seem unlikely, given their almost $18 million in cap space – Butcher would be a lock to make Jersey’s 23-man roster, if not earn regular playing time. And in the predictable case Severson remains with the Devils, Butcher would almost certainly be an improvement over D Dalton Prout, who is eligible to be demoted to the AHL without hitting the waiver wire.

The same two goaltenders return from last year, and Cory Schneider – co-winner of the 2011 William M. Jennings Trophy – will be expected to return to his previous form. For his entire NHL career, Schneider has managed a .922 save percentage and 2.28 GAA, but those numbers fell to .908 and 2.82 last season. In large part, that may have been due to his defense allowing 31.4 shots to reach his crease per game (tied for ninth-worst in the NHL), but he cannot expect that to change given the Devils’ inactivity in changing personnel along the blue line. If New Jersey plans to end its rebuild now (*hint* it shouldn’t), it will have to fall on Schneider to shore up the defensive end.

Unfortunately, I don’t expect Devils fans to witness immediate progress noticeable in a final score. Instead, they should be looking for improved fundamentals from all skaters, a rebound season for Schneider and another solid entry draft to shore up the defensive corps. Rasmus Dahlin or Jared McIsaac, anyone?

Offseason Grade: B

Make no doubt about it: the Devils are in full rebuild mode and would be unwise to believe they are retooled enough to emerge from the bottom of the Eastern Conference this season. But, they have made many of the right steps in improving their forward corps with talented youths and could begin making their resurgence in a few years if they stick with #TheProcess.