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.