Tag Archives: Prudential Center

Pastrnak and Grzelcyk score a pair in B’s, 5-1, win over Devils

David Pastrnak and Matt Grzelcyk had a pair of goals in the Boston Bruins’, 5-1, victory over the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night at Prudential Center.

Tuukka Rask (9-2-2 record, 2.06 goals against average, .930 save percentage in 13 games played) made 25 saves on 26 shots against for a .962 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Devils goaltender, Mackenzie Blackwood (7-5-3, 2.94 GAA, .899 SV% in 15 GP) stopped 23 out of 28 shots faced for an .821 SV% in the loss.

Boston maintained the Atlantic Division lead, while improving to 13-3-5 (31 points) on the season and 6-3-1 on the road.

New Jersey fell to 7-9-4 overall (18 points) and slipped to last place (8th) in the Metropolitan Division.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), John Moore (shoulder), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), David Backes (upper body), Torey Krug (upper body) and Zach Senyshyn (lower body) on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Boston welcomed Jake DeBrusk and Brett Ritchie back to the lineup after the pair of forwards missed the last five games due to injuries.

Patrice Bergeron (lower body) was a game-time decision and did not participate in warmups. As a result, he missed his 2nd consecutive game this season.

With a laundry list of injuries hampering the lineup, Paul Carey and Trent Frederic were reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Sunday.

Urho Vaakanainen was originally sent down as well in a paper transaction, but later recalled from Providence on Monday.

Brendan Gaunce joined Vaakanainen on Monday’s recall as the forward was added as an extra body for the B’s in their short trip to New Jersey in case DeBrusk or Ritchie were not ready to go.

Gaunce has four goals and three assists (seven points) in 11 games with Providence this season and signed with the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019.

He was later reassigned to Providence before warmups in New Jersey.

Bergeron and Krug did not practice on Monday, but Krug skated earlier in the morning before Monday’s full practice group. He is likely to return later this week.

With Bergeron out of the lineup for the second game in a row, David Krejci resumed his status as the first line center with Brad Marchand and Pastrnak as his wings.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, left Anders Bjork with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen on the second line.

Par Lindholm remained in charge of centering the third line with DeBrusk on the left side and Ritchie on the right side in their return to game action, while Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner comprised the fourth line as usual.

Cassidy left his defensive pairings alone from Saturday night’s, 3-2, shootout loss to the Washington Capitals, while Steven Kampfer remained the only healthy scratch for Boston on Tuesday.

Midway through the opening frame, DeBrusk tripped up Pavel Zacha and was assessed a minor infraction at 12:12 of the first period.

New Jersey’s ensuing power play did not go as planned.

After Boston killed off DeBrusk’s minor, the Devils found themselves trapped in their own zone as a fresh from the box– fresh off a quick change– Bruins team pounced.

Grzelcyk (1) fired a shot from the point that rang the iron, bounced off of Blackwood’s back and ended up in the twine to give Boston the game’s first goal.

Marchand (20) and Krejci (10) had the assists on Grzelcyk’s goal as the Bruins jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 14:26 of the first period.

New Jersey barely had enough time to reset before Boston was again on the offensive– this time with Marchand setting up Pastrnak (18) for a one-timer blast that gave the Bruins a two-goal lead at 14:40.

Marchand (21) and Krejci (11) had the assists once more as the B’s took a, 2-0, lead with a pair of goals in 14 seconds.

Seven seconds after Pastrnak scored, Heinen tripped up Blake Coleman and was sent to the penalty box at 14:47.

The Devils didn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

With less than two minutes left in the first period, pending-unrestricted free agent, Taylor Hall, caught Charlie McAvoy with an errant stick and tripped the Boston defender, yielding a power play for the Bruins for the first time of the night at 18:06.

Through one period in New Jersey, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and held the advantage in shots on goal (6-5), hits (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (59-41), while the Devils led in blocked shots (4-3) and giveaways (9-2) entering the first intermission.

Both teams had two takeaways aside heading into the second period as New Jersey was 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins were 0/1.

An almost uneventful (on the event sheet anyway) second period wrapped up with a late goal in the middle frame from Coleman (5).

New Jersey defender, Will Butcher, led a rush up-ice and completed a short pass to Nikita Gusev as the Devils entered the attacking zone.

Gusev found Coleman as Coleman cut to the low slot– where he was able to ring a shot off the post and in over Rask’s blocker side to cut Boston’s lead in half and put New Jersey on the scoreboard, 2-1.

Gusev (3) and Butcher (5) tallied the assists on Coleman’s goal at 18:11 of the second period.

After 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led on the scoreboard, 2-1, and in shots on goal, 18-16– including a, 12-11, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also maintained an advantage in blocked shots (10-7), takeaways (5-4) and faceoff win% (56-44), while the Devils led in giveaways (14-5) and hits (12-11).

New Jersey was still 0/2 on the skater advantage and the B’s were still 0/1 on the power play as there were no penalties called in the middle period.

Early in the final frame of regulation, P.K. Subban tripped up Pastrnak and was assessed a minor penalty at 3:11 of the third period.

Eight seconds later, Pastrnak (19) scored his 2nd goal of the game with a one-timer blast from the point on the power play.

The B’s won the ensuing faceoff, moved the puck quickly to Marchand along the boards, then flipped it back to Pastrnak for the one-timer goal at 3:19.

Marchand (22) tallied his third assist of the night, while Coyle (7) picked up the secondary assist and the Bruins led, 3-1.

Midway through the third period, Grzelcyk (2) danced around Subban while entering Boston’s offensive zone, then snapped a shot bardown over Blackwood’s glove to make it, 4-1, Bruins.

McAvoy (7) had the only assist on Grzelcyk’s 2nd goal of the night at 10:33– marking the first two-goal game of Grzelcyk’s NHL career.

A few minutes later, Connor Clifton (2) rocketed a slap shot from the point while preventing the puck from clearing the zone– sending it over Blackwood’s glove, off the iron and into the twine in the process.

Clifton’s unassisted goal made it, 5-1, for Boston at 13:42 as the New Jersey native notched a goal in his home state.

At the sound of the final horn, the Bruins had won, 5-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 28-26, despite both teams amassing ten shots on net aside in the third period.

The Devils finished the game leading in giveaways (15-6) and hits (18-15), while the Bruins wrapped up the action with the advantage in blocked shots (14-7) and faceoff win% (60-40)

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

With his goal in the first period, Pastrnak (341 games) became 2nd fastest to score 150 goals with the Bruins among players who made their NHL debuts with the franchise. Only Barry Pederson (316 games) did it faster.

The Bruins improved to 11-2-3 when scoring first this season, 10-1-0 when leading after the first period and 8-0-2 when leading after two periods.

Boston begins a two-game homestand against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday and hosts the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

The B’s close out November with back to back nights in Montreal (Nov. 26th) and Ottawa (Nov. 27th) before finishing the month at home against the New York Rangers in a Black Friday matinee on Nov. 29th.

Bruins first line bedevils New Jersey, 5-1

The Boston Bruins are flirting with the 100-point plateau this season after their 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday.

Boston can reach 100 points on the season in Saturday night’s tango with the Florida Panthers as the B’s roll on with their four-game road trip.

Patrice Bergeron had two goals in Thursday’s effort, while David Pastrnak, Danton Heinen and David Backes each added a goal and Brad Marchand had three assists for Boston.

Drew Stafford had the lone goal for the Devils.

Tuukka Rask (26-10-5 record, 2.35 goals against average, .918 save percentage in 42 games played) made 21 saves on 22 shots against (.955 SV%) in the win for the Bruins.

New Jersey goaltender, Cory Schneider (5-12-3, 3.18 GAA, .898 SV% in 23 GP) stopped 22 out of 26 shots faced for an .846 SV% in the loss after entering Thursday night, 3-1-1, in his last five home games.

The Bruins improved to 45-20-9 (99 points) on the season and in control of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, while the Devils fell to 27-39-9 (63 points) and remain last (8th) in the Metropolitan Division.

Boston also improved to 17-13-6 on the road this season, 30-6-5 when scoring first this season and 27-1-3 when leading after two periods.

Bruce Cassidy told reporters he wasn’t going to make any changes to his lineup for Boston on Thursday, while also informing them that Kevan Miller (upper body), Marcus Johnasson (lung contusion) and Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) would all be joining the club in Florida on Friday.

There’s a chance all three skaters rejoin the lineup for Saturday night’s matchup against the Florida Panthers.

Meanwhile, Torey Krug (concussion) skated on his own after morning skate on Thursday, but is not yet ready to return to game action.

Paul Carey served as the only healthy scratch for the Bruins on Thursday.

Late in the first period, Bergeron (29) scored the game’s first goal after the B’s alternate captain received a pass from Pastrnak and buried the puck while Schneider was caught in desperation behind the play– diving across the crease.

Pastrnak (36) and Marchand (57) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins led, 1-0, at 18:34 of the first period.

After 20 minutes of play, Boston led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and was tied in shots on goal with New Jersey, 7-7.

The Devils led in blocked shots (5-2), giveaways (6-0) and hits (13-6), while the Bruins held the advantage in takeaways (5-2) and face-off win percentage (67-33). Neither team had yet to see time on the power play entering the first intermission.

Almost midway through the second period, Steven Santini cross checked Pastrnak and was assessed a two-minute minor penalty at 8:58.

Boston did not convert on their first power play opportunity of the night.

A couple of minutes after the power play expired, Pastrnak (32) made it a two-goal game with a goal shortly after the Bruins won a face-off in the offensive zone at 12:58 of the second period.

Marchand (58) and Bergeron (41) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s goal and the B’s led, 2-0.

For the 2nd consecutive game, the Bruins increased their lead to two-goals after scoring the first goal of the game.

Almost two minutes later, former Bruin, Stafford (3) got a quick one-timer past Rask as the Boston goaltender dove across the crease a la Schneider back in the first period after the Bruins flubbed an attempt to clear the puck out of the defensive zone.

Stafford’s goal– his first in 35 games– cut the lead in half, 2-1, and was assisted by Pavel Zacha (7) at 14:51 of the second period.

Zacha had his first point for the Devils in his first game back since missing the last 16 games due to injury.

Through 40 minutes of play, Boston led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 16-15, in shots on goal. Boston also maintained an advantage in face-off win% (67-33), while New Jersey led in blocked shots (11-4), giveaways (8-0) and hits (23-11).

Both teams managed five takeaways aside after two periods and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play entering the second intermission.

Sean Kuraly blocked a shot less than a minute into the third period and the puck caromed off the Bruins forward back into the neutral zone and onto Heinen’s stick blade.

Heinen (10) beat Schneider high on the blocker side on the ensuing breakaway 29 seconds into the third period.

Boston led, 3-1, thanks to Heinen’s goal. Kuraly (13) was tabbed with the only assist in the effort.

Less than a minute later, Blake Coleman was penalized for interference at 1:21 of the third period.

Boston’s resulting power play was cut short when Pastrnak committed his own interference infraction at 3:01.

Despite an abbreviated skater advantage for New Jersey after a brief 21 seconds of 4-on-4 action, the Devils did not score on their only power play of the night.

Travis Zajac hooked Bergeron at 7:11 and served a two-minute minor penalty, but the B’s did not capitalize on their third and final power play opportunity of the evening.

With about two minutes left in regulation, Devils head coach, John Hynes, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.

Bergeron (30) pocketed the empty net goal– his second goal of the game– for Boston from the neutral zone at 18:42, while Marchand (59) and David Krejci (45) were credited with the assists.

With his 30th goal of the season, Bergeron reached the 30-goal plateau for the 5th time in his 15-year NHL career and for the first time in back-to-back seasons.

He became the 4th player to record at least three 30-goal seasons after age 30 in Bruins franchise history, joining Johnny Bucyk (7x), Phil Esposito (4x) and Rick Middleton (3x).

Bergeron also became the 3rd 30-goal scorer for Boston this season, joining his linemates, Pastrnak and Marchand, as the Bruins have now had at least three players with 30 or more goals in consecutive seasons since last season.

Marchand, meanwhile, became the first Bruins player to record 90-plus points in a season (31-59–90 totals) since Marc Savard did so with 22-74–96 totals in 2006-07.

With almost 20 seconds left in regulation, Backes (6) fired a shot past Schneider’s glove from near the goal line along the boards to make it a four-goal lead for Boston, 5-1.

Noel Acciari (7) had the only assist on Backes’ first goal in 23 games.

At the final horn the Bruins secured the, 5-1, victory and finished the night leading in shots on goal (27-23), as well as face-off win% (53-47).

New Jersey capped off Thursday night leading in blocked shots (15-7), giveaways (9-1) and hits (26-14).

The Devils went 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s finished 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Boston is now 2-0-0 on their current four-game road trip and outscoring their opponents, 10-1.

The Bruins head to Florida on Saturday and Tampa next Monday before returning home to face the New York Rangers on March 27th. Boston hosts the Florida Panthers on March 30th before traveling to Detroit on the 31st to close out the month.

Bruins at Devils Preview: 3/21/2019

The Boston Bruins (44-20-9, 97 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division) continue their four-game road trip after a, 5-0, shutout of the New York Islanders on Tuesday with a Thursday night matchup against the New Jersey Devils (27-38-9, 63 points, 8th in the Metropolitan Division).

New Jersey is coming off a, 4-1, loss to the Washington Capitals on home ice on Tuesday and is 1-1-0 against the Bruins this season, including a, 5-2, win in Boston on Dec. 27th and a, 1-0, loss at TD Garden on March 2nd.

Thursday night marks the final time the two clubs will see each other in the 2018-19 regular season.

It’s also a homecoming for New Jersey native and B’s defender, Connor Clifton, as he will once again be in the lineup for the Bruins while Matt Grzelcyk, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller remain out of the action.

Former Devil, John Moore, makes his return to Prudential Center as a member of the Bruins, while trade deadline acquisition Marcus Johansson will not be available for Thursday night’s action in Boston’s first game in New Jersey since trading for Johansson.

Grzelcyk (upper body), Miller (upper body) and Johansson (lung contusion) will join the Bruins in Florida on Friday ahead of their Saturday night battle with the Panthers and could all be back in the lineup at that time.

Krug (concussion) skated on his own after morning skate on Thursday and remains out of game action.

Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, indicated there would be no lineup changes, while Paul Carey remains the only healthy scratch and Tuukka Rask (25-10-5 record, 2.39 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 41 games played) will get the start in net against the Devils.

Rask had a 20-save shutout in Boston’s, 1-0, win over New Jersey earlier this month.

Across the ice, Pavel Zacha returns to the lineup for the Devils after missing 16 games with an upper body injury. New Jersey is 2-8-1 in their last 11 games and has already been eliminated from postseason contention this year.

Facing a lot of injuries to the roster, Josh Jacobs was recalled from the Binghamton Devils (AHL) and will make his NHL debut and wear No. 40 for New Jersey on Thursday, while Nathan Bastian (upper body), Jesper Bratt (lower body), Taylor Hall (lower body), Nico Hischier (upper body), Mirco Mueller (upper body), Miles Wood (lower body), Kyle Palmieri (upper body) and Will Butcher (illness) remain inactive.

Devils head coach, John Hynes, indicated Cory Schneider (5-11-3, 3.13 GAA, .901 SV% in 22 GP) would get the start for New Jersey against Boston.

Schneider is 2-6-3 in his career against the Bruins, allowing 27 goals against, while amassing a 2.51 GAA in 646 minutes played. He is also 5-4-1 in his past 10 games (nine starts) and has a 2.09 GAA and .934 SV% in that span.

Backup goaltender, Mackenzie Blackwood (7-9-0, 2.71 GAA, .915 SV% in 19 GP) is 1-1-0 this season against the B’s and allowed three goals on 72 shots against with a 1.52 GAA.

Game of the week: February 11-17

Did you think I’d forgotten? We still need a Game of the Week! Let’s take a look at this edition’s options:

NHL SCHEDULE: February 11-17
TIME (ALL TIMES EASTERN) VISITOR HOST NATIONAL BROADCAST(S)/
Result
Monday, February 11
7 p.m. Pittsburgh Philadelphia 4-1
7 p.m. Los Angeles Washington 4-6
10 p.m. San Jose Vancouver 7-2
Tuesday, February 12
7 p.m. Chicago Boston 3-6
7 p.m. New York Islanders Buffalo Sabres 1-3
7 p.m. Dallas Florida 3-0
7 p.m. Washington Columbus 0-3
7:30 p.m. Carolina Ottawa 4-1
7:30 p.m. Calgary Tampa Bay 3-6
8 p.m. New Jersey St. Louis 3-8
8 p.m. Detroit Nashville 3-2
8 p.m. Philadelphia Minnesota 5-4
8 p.m. New York Rangers Winnipeg Jets 3-4
9 p.m. Toronto Colorado 5-2
10 p.m. Arizona Vegas 5-2
Wednesday, February 13
8 p.m. Edmonton Pittsburgh 1-3
10:30 p.m. Vancouver Anaheim 0-1
Thursday, February 14
7 p.m. Calgary Florida 2-3 (SO)
7 p.m. New York Islanders Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0
7:30 p.m. Ottawa Detroit 2-3
7:30 p.m. Dallas Tampa Bay 0-6
8 p.m. Montréal Nashville 1-3
8 p.m. Colorado Winnipeg 4-1
8:30 p.m. New Jersey Chicago 2-5
9 p.m. St. Louis Arizona 4-0
10 p.m. Toronto Vegas 6-3
10:30 p.m. Vancouver Los Angeles 4-3 (SO)
10:30 p.m. Washington San Jose 5-1
Friday, February 15
7 p.m. New York Rangers Buffalo Sabres 6-2
7:30 p.m. Edmonton Carolina 1-3
8:30 p.m. New Jersey Minnesota 5-4 (OT)
10 p.m. Boston Anaheim 3-0
Saturday, February 16
1 p.m. Detroit Philadelphia 5-6 (OT)
1 p.m. Calgary Pittsburgh 5-4
3 p.m. St. Louis Colorado 3-0
7 p.m. Toronto Arizona 0-2
7 p.m. Ottawa Winnipeg 4-3 (OT)
7 p.m. Montréal Tampa Bay 0-3
7 p.m. Edmonton Oilers New York Islanders 2-5
8 p.m. Dallas Carolina 0-3
8:30 p.m. Columbus Chicago 5-2
10 p.m. Nashville Vegas 1-5
10 p.m. Vancouver San Jose 2-3
10:30 p.m. Boston Los Angeles 4-2
Sunday, February 17
12:30 p.m. New York Rangers Pittsburgh Penguins NBC, SN, TVAS
3 p.m. St. Louis Minnesota NBC, SN
6 p.m. Buffalo New Jersey  
6 p.m. Philadelphia Detroit NBCSN
7 p.m. Montréal Florida RDS, SN
9 p.m. Washington Anaheim ESPN+

With the trade deadline looming just around the corner, it’s been another exciting week in the NHL. After all, another edition of the Battle of the Keystone State was waged on Monday, followed the next day by two more rivalries featuring Arizona, Boston, Chicago and Vegas.

Tuesday also saw the Blue Jackets and Capitals reignite last season’s First Round playoff bout, with Columbus winning 3-0 in what just might be a preview of another playoff series to come this April.

As for the biggest player homecoming on this week’s calendar, that title belongs to F Chris Wagner of the Boston Bruins. Wagner spent four seasons with the Ducks (2014-18), appearing in 133 games and registering 12-12-24 totals. He was shipped to the Islanders at last season’s trade deadline before signing with the Atlantic Division’s current second-best team – not to mention his hometown club – this offseason. His Bruins beat Anaheim 3-0 on Friday.

Today is Hockey Day in America, but DtFR is holding off on the celebration until this evening before the Capitals-Ducks game to take in D Scott Niedermayer‘s jersey retirement ceremony.

Niedermayer may have only spent five seasons in Anaheim, but there’s no doubt he plays an integral role in the Ducks’ history. He joined the then Mighty Ducks in 2005-06 after 13 seasons and three Stanley Cups in New Jersey, signing as an unrestricted free agent to a four-year, $27 million contract to join forces with RW Teemu Selanne, F Andy McDonald and brother F Rob Niedermayer and serve as their captain.

Named a First Team All-Star for the second consecutive season and finishing second in Norris Trophy voting behind D Nicklas Lidstrom, Niedermayer and his 13-50-63 totals was just the addition the Mighty Ducks needed on their blue line to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2003’s trip to the Stanley Cup Final – you know, the one where Niedermayer’s Devils beat Anaheim in Game 7. Despite qualifying as the six seed, the Mighty Ducks took advantage of a wildly unpredictable Western Conference playoff to advance all the way to the Conference Finals before falling in five games to Edmonton.

For a champion like Niedermayer, falling short in the Conference Finals was unacceptable, as he elevated his game to even better 15-54-69 totals during the 2006-07 season to notch career-highs in all three statistics as well as propel the Ducks (the new and less-mighty edition) all the way to the West’s second seed.

Though that impressive effort was good enough to earn Niedermayer his third-consecutive First Team All-Star selection, he still had his eye on a fourth Stanley Cup. Despite registering only 3-8-11 marks in the Ducks’ 21 postseason games (second-best among Ducks defensemen despite playing two more games than D Chris Pronger), Niedermayer’s two game-winners (one was the series-clincher against Vancouver in double-overtime, the other the overtime winner in Game 1 of the Western Finals) and his power play goal to force overtime against the Red Wings in Game 5 of the Conference Finals was enough to win him the Conn Smythe Trophy and Anaheim’s first title in any sport since the Angels’ 2002 World Series win. The Ducks’ lone Stanley Cup is still the city’s most recent title.

The remaining three years of Niedermayer’s tenure in Anaheim paled in comparison to his first two. The Ducks didn’t make it past the Conference Semifinals in 2008 or 2009 (in fact, they lost in the first round the season after winning the Stanley Cup) and failed to qualify for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs; Niedermayer didn’t win anymore hardware, nor did he reach the 60-point plateau again.

However, Niedermayer’s mission when he signed with Anaheim had been accomplished. He’d won his fourth title without the help of his dominant Devils teammates, and he’d helped his brother earn his first ring. He’d helped the Ducks to a then franchise-record 48 wins

And it is for that championship and his career-defining seasons that the Hall of Famer is being honored tonight. Having already seen his No. 27 hoisted to the Prudential Center rafters, he’ll receive that same recognition tonight at Honda Center.

Unfortunately for the Ducks faithful, The Pond’s good vibes might find a quick end after Niedermayer’s ceremony. After all, the 22-27-9 Anaheim Ducks are riding an infamous 3-16-4 skid that dates all the way back to December 18. This torrid run has seen the Ducks drop all the way from a playoff position to fourth-to-last in the NHL, earning Randy Carlyle an early offseason.

It comes as no surprise that a squad that has struggled as much as the Ducks is finding almost no success in any phase of the game. Anaheim’s offense has ranked dead last in the NHL since December 18, accounting for only 1.52 goals per game in that time – a full six-tenths of a goal worse than Dallas.

Of course, even when the Ducks were having success earlier in the season, offense was in no way their game. They were averaging only 2.57 goals per game through their first 35 outings – a mark that would rank 29th among teams’ current season averages.

Instead, the biggest reason for this decline is the breakdown on the defensive end. In their past 23 games, the Ducks have allowed an average of 3.7 goals per game, the second-worst mark in the NHL in that time (fellow Pacific Division member Edmonton’s 3.92 goals against per game takes credit for worst in the league since December 18). However, only one facet of the defense is truly at fault.

Whether it is 1-1-0 G Kevin Boyle or 4-2-1 G Ryan Miller that receives the nod tonight (17-19-8 G John Gibson and 0-5-0 G Chad Johnson are both on injured reserve with respective back and head injuries) is still unknown.

Despite his rookie status behind a porous defense (more on that in a moment), Boyle has been far from the problem for the Ducks lately, as he boasts a .955 save percentage and 1.51 GAA for his short, three-game NHL career. Meanwhile, Miller has only recently been cleared to resume action. If he were to take to the crease tonight, it would be his first appearance since December 9 – a 6-5 shootout home victory over the New Jersey Devils that he did not finish.

For what it’s worth, Miller is riding a personal two-game win streak and three-game point streak.

As mentioned before, what makes the youngster’s solid stats even more impressive is he’s getting absolutely no help from his skaters. Since December 18, Anaheim has allowed a whopping 32.91 shots against per game – the seventh-worst mark in the league in that time.

Making the trip to Orange County are the 32-19-7 Washington Capitals, the Metropolitan Division’s second-best team.

In their last six games, the Caps have managed a solid record of 4-1-1 – more than good enough to hold on to their current position in the standings against the middling Metro teams. In particular, this surge has been spearheaded by Washington’s dominant offense, which has been rattling off 3.67 goals per game since February 5 – the (t)seventh-best mark in the league in that time.

Leading this attack has been none other than Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Capitals’ top-line center. In his past six outings, Kuznetsov has registered dominant 5-6-11 totals, including an amazing 2-2-4 performance against the Ducks’ arch-rivals in D.C. on Monday. On the season, Kuznetsov now has 15-39-54 marks in 52 appearances.

Joining Kuznetsov in averaging a point per game over this run are fellow first-liner W Alex Ovechkin (2-7-9 totals) and second-liners F T.J. Oshie (3-4-7) and LW Jakub Vrana (3-3-6).

Washington has also boasted a decent effort on the defensive end, allowing only three goals per game during this six-game run – the (t)12th-best mark in the NHL in that time. Despite managing only a .908 save percentage and 2.99 GAA for the season, 20-14-4 G Braden Holtby has been on a tear lately, boasting a .917 save percentage and 2.51 GAA for his last four starts.

It’s hard to see a way the Ducks escape with a win tonight. Washington has been rolling lately, and the Ducks offense in particular simply do not have an answer for the Caps’ attack. Unless C Ryan Getzlaf can add at least four points to his total tonight, Washington should pull back within three points of New York for the Metro lead.

Bolts beat Devils 3-1 in Game 4 and lead series 3-1

Unknown-3New Jersey Devils Logo

 

 

 

 

Entering Wednesday night the Tampa Bay Lightning held a 2-1 series lead over the New Jersey Devils and after leading most of the game, 2-1, it was only fitting that Nikita Kucherov’s empty net goal at 18:52 of the third period reflected what the game and the series would be— 3-1, in favor of Tampa.

Yes, the Lightning stole Game 4 on the road at Prudential Center and the Bolts will have a chance to finish the Devils in Game 5 on home ice.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves on 28 shots against for a .964 save percentage in the win, while New Jersey’s Cory Schneider had 34 saves on 36 shots faced for a .944 SV% in the loss.

It didn’t take long for the first penalty of the game to be called. In fact, it only took 34 seconds. Taylor Hall was sent to the penalty box with a minor penalty for hooking Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point. The Lightning did not convert on the ensuing power play and the Devils made the kill without their best player on the ice.

Alex Killorn got his name on the event sheet as a result of hooking New Jersey forward, Marcus Johansson, 7:47 into the first period providing the Devils with their first power play of the night. Cedric Paquette made his way to the sin bin shortly thereafter for tripping Hall and gave New Jersey a 5-on-3 power play at 8:12.

It only took 11 seconds for the Devils to convert on the two-man advantage.

Travis Zajac won a faceoff and the puck ended up working its way to Kyle Palmieri (1) who fired one past Vasilevskiy with Patrick Maroon providing a hefty screen in front of the Tampa netminder.

Will Butcher (2) and Hall (4) had the assists on Palmieri’s power play goal that made it 1-0 New Jersey.

Not long after, the Lightning responded with a goal of their own to tie the game, 1-1, at 11:30 of the first period.

J.T. Miller (1) rushed on a breakout and sent a pass to Steven Stamkos who dropped it back to Kucherov. With Miller heading for the goal, Kucherov lobbed the puck to his linemate and Miller sent a shot high and past Schneider’s blocker side.

Kucherov (5) and Stamkos (4) notched the assists on the goal and Tampa surged in momentum.

Cory Conacher thought he had his first goal of the postseason when he beat Schneider cleanly on the glove side, but Devils head coach, John Hynes, challenged the call on the ice and the refs reviewed the play entering the zone for offside.

After review, the ruling on the ice was reversed and the score remained tied, 1-1. Hynes’s coach’s challenge was successful.

But the Lightning had already got the ball rolling on a momentum swing and nonetheless, capitalized on their next great scoring chance as Kucherov (3) sent a shot past Schneider’s glove side to put the Bolts ahead for the first time in the game, 2-1. Braydon Coburn (1) and Miller (2) had the primary and secondary assists, respectively.

Late in the first period, Kucherov was the topic of controversy as he caught Sami Vatanen without the puck in what some may view as a shoulder-to-shoulder check, while Devils fans may see otherwise. There was no penalty called on the play and Hynes was irate behind New Jersey’s bench as Vatanen skated off the ice and left the game with an upper body injury.

It’s hard to tell via replay whether or not Vatanen’s head is the point of contact at all, but regardless of whether or not it was the principal point of contact— given the precedent set this postseason by Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty’s one-game suspension for his hit on Vegas Golden Knights forward, William Carrier— Kucherov should expect something from the league.

Once the blood got boiling as a result of Kucherov’s hit, both teams were riled up the rest of the night.

Lightning forward, Alex Killorn, hit New Jersey defender, Ben Lovejoy, from behind and was assessed a minor penalty for boarding at 16:49 of the first period. As a result of the blatant hit to the numbers, a scrum ensued prior to Killorn’s exit from the ice to the penalty box.

This scrum mentality continued a couple of minutes later when a stoppage in play resulted in every player squaring off with an opponent. New Jersey’s Miles Wood and Blake Coleman, as well as, Tampa’s Anton Stralman, were given roughing minors and the Lightning ended up on the power play with less than a minute to go in the first period.

After 20 minutes of play, the Lightning led the Devils, 2-1, on the scoreboard while New Jersey led, 13-12, in shots on goal. New Jersey had a slight edge in blocked shots (2-1) and hits (9-6) and was 1/3 on the power play through the end of the first period. Tampa was 0/2 on the man advantage.

Midway through the second period, Hall tripped up Stralman and the Bolts went back on the power play until Kucherov’s ensuing holding minor penalty ended the run of 5-on-4 hockey at 11:28. Less than 20 seconds of 4-on-4 hockey occurred and Hall was released from the box, giving New Jersey a shorter than usual power play.

Brayden Point followed up with the next penalty in the game after he bumped into Schneider and got sent to the sin bin for goaltender interference about three minutes later.

Finally, Stefan Noesen got his name on the event sheet for high-sticking Point at 18:38 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, the score remained 2-1, Tampa. The Lightning led in shots on goal (24-18) and blocked shots (7-6), while the Devils led in hits (18-12), takeaways (8-7), giveaways (8-5) and faceoff win percentage (63-38). The Bolts were 0/4 with the man advantage and the Devils were 1/5 on the power play.

Miller slashed Hall at 7:18 of the third period. New Jersey didn’t get anything going on the power play.

Andy Greene tripped Stamkos at 12:52 of the third period. Once again, the Lightning didn’t get anything going with their special teams.

Finally, with Schneider pulled for an extra skater, Tampa put away the game with an empty net goal courtesy of Kucherov (4) at 18:52. Miller (3) had the only assist on the goal that put the Bolts up 3-1 in the game and in the series.

Tampa finished the night leading in shots on goal (37-28), but the Devils led in just about every other stat— hits (25-19), giveaways (11-5), faceoff win% (59-41) and even had a power play goal (1/6 on the night). The Lightning didn’t bring the thunder on any of their power play opportunities and finished the night 0/5.

Game 5 is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. Puck drop is expected to be a shortly after 3 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune in on NBC/NBCSN (check your local listings, because it appears they’re going to do what they did when New Jersey and Tampa were playing at the same time as Colorado and Nashville about a week ago). Fans in Canada can tune in on SN360 or TVAS2.