Kyle Palmieri scored a pair of goals as the New Jersey Devils beat the Boston Bruins, 3-2, at TD Garden on Thursday night in Boston.
Mackenzie Blackwood (4-0-1, 1.94 goals against average, .945 save percentage in five games played) made 25 saves on 27 shots faced for a .926 SV% in the win for New Jersey.
Boston netminder, Jaroslav Halak (4-1-1, 1.66 GAA, .928 SV% in six games played) stopped 23 out of 26 shots against (.885 SV%) in the loss.
The Bruins fell to 10-3-2 (22 points) on the season, but remained in command of the MassMutual NHL East Division lead, while the Devils improved to 6-3-2 (14 points) overall and stagnant in 6th place in the division.
Once more, the Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), but Jakub Zboril (upper body) joined the pair of injured teammates in the press box on Thursday night– missing his first game of the season due to an injury sustained on Feb. 13th in the, 4-2, loss at the Islanders.
Kase missed his 13th game due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey, while Grzelcyk missed his ninth game due to an injury originally sustained on Jan. 21st against Philadelphia, then re-aggravated on Jan. 28th against Pittsburgh and on Feb. 10th in New York (against the Rangers).
As a result of the injuries and more, Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, jumbled his lines.
Jake DeBrusk replaced David Pastrnak on the first line right wing with Brad Marchand at left wing and captain, Patrice Bergeron, at center.
Pastrnak was “demoted” to the second line with Nick Ritchie and David Krejci, while Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith were reunited on the third line.
Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner made up the fourth line.
On defense, Cassidy left Jeremy Lauzon with Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pairing, while John Moore filled in Grzelcyk’s usual role on the second pairing with Brandon Carlo and Connor Clifton was slotted into Zboril’s spot alongside Kevan Miller.
Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth and Karson Kuhlman made up Boston’s taxi squad on Thursday, while Anton Blidh was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday and Par Lindholm had his contract terminated by the club on Monday after being placed on waivers for the purpose of terminating his deal on Sunday.
Lindholm signed a multiyear contract with Skellefteå AIK in his return to the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).
Not much happened in the first period. In fact, so much not much that the only event on the scoresheet was a penalty against Wagner for tripping Devils forward, Miles Wood, at 10:29.
New Jersey did not convert on the ensuing power play.
After one period of action Thursday night at TD Garden, the game was tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 7-7.
Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (7-4) and giveaways (5-3), while New Jersey led in hits (9-8).
Both teams managed three takeaways aside and split faceoff win percentage (50-50).
The Devils were 0/1 on the power play, while the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the first intermission.
Early in the middle period, Jack Hughes pulled both Boston defenders out of position before dropping a pass to Palmieri (1) for the wrist shot goal over Halak’s glove side.
Hughes (6) had the only assist on Palmieri’s first goal of the night as the Devils took the lead, 1-0, at 1:34 of the second period.
Less than a minute later, Palmieri cut a rut to the penalty box with McAvoy after the two players roughed each other up a bit after a stoppage in play, resulting in 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes at 2:14 of the middle frame.
Moments later, Moore tripped Jesper Bratt and was sent to the sin bin at 8:01, yielding a power play to New Jersey in the process.
Once again the Devils weren’t able to convert on the skater advantage, however, as P.K. Subban caught Bjork with a high stick and drew blood at 9:05 of the second period, resulting in a four-minute double minor penalty on Subban.
The two clubs shared 56 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Bruins began an extended power play for a span of 3:04.
While shorthanded, the Devils forced a turnover in the neutral zone, presenting Palmieri (2) with a clear lane to the net for his second goal of the night on a similar shot to his first goal of the game.
Damon Severson (5) and Bratt (3) tallied the assists on Palmieri’s shorthanded goal as New Jersey led, 2-0, at 10:39 of the second period.
In the waning minute of their power play, DeBrusk (1) found a loose puck in the slot and buried a shot over Blackwood’s blocker side to cut New Jersey’s lead in half, 2-1, and give Boston their first goal of the night.
DeBrusk’s power-play goal was unassisted at 12:36.
Moments later, the Bruins tweeted that Krejci (lower body) would not return to the night’s action– necessitating some changes to Cassidy’s in-game lineup.
Late in the period, Nathan Bastian and Coyle received matching roughing minors after yet another post-whistle scrum at 15:08.
On the ensuing 4-on-4 action, New Jersey worked the puck in the offensive zone while Moore and Carlo struggled to remain in proper positioning in their own end.
Andreas Johnsson sent a pass to Pavel Zacha (4) for a one-timer goal over Halak’s blocker from the inside circle to the Bruins netminder’s right side.
Johnsson (2) and Will Butcher (1) notched the assists on Zacha’s goal and the Devils led, 3-1, at 15:37 of the second period.
Through 40 minutes of play on Thursday, New Jersey led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 18-15, in shots on goal, including an, 11-8, advantage in the second period alone while Boston struggled on home ice.
The Bruins led in blocked shots (11-8), giveaways (8-6) and faceoff win% (58-43), while the Devils led in takeaways (5-4) and hits (16-15).
New Jersey was 0/2 on the power play, while Boston was 1/2 on the skater advantage entering the final frame of regulation.
The Bruins found themselves shorthanded when Lauzon tripped Palmieri at 7:01 of the third period, but made matters worse when Marchand caught Hughes with a high stick at 7:36 and presented the Devils with a two-skater advantage for 1:25.
Boston’s penalty kill got the job done, however.
Late in the final frame, Ty Smith sent an errant puck clear over the glass and received a minor infraction for delay of game at 17:49, presenting the B’s with a power play that– if they couldn’t score– would expire with 11 seconds left in the game.
Cassidy pulled Halak for an extra attacker to make it a 6-on-4 advantage for Boston.
About a minute into the ensuing power play, Pastrnak fired a shot from the point that McAvoy (2) deflected while battling Dmitry Kulikov in the slot to pull Boston to within one goal.
Pastrnak (6) and Ritchie (6) were credited with the assists on the power-play goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-2, at 18:54 of the third period.
With 1:06 to go, Cassidy used his timeout to rally Boston for another goal, but it was too little, too late as the final horn sounded 66 seconds later.
New Jersey emerged victorious, 3-2, as time expired.
The Bruins finished with the advantage in shots on goal, 27-26, including a, 12-8, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone.
Boston also wrapped up Thursday night’s action leading in blocked shots (16-13), giveaways (11-9) and faceoff win% (61-39), while the New Jersey finished the night leading in hits (24-21).
The Devils went 0/4 on the skater advantage while the B’s converted on 2/3 power play opportunities.
The B’s fell to 3-2-0 (1-1-0 at home) when tied after the first period, 2-1-1 (1-1-0 at home) when trailing after two periods and 4-2-2 (1-1-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.
New Jersey, meanwhile, improved to 2-1-1 (2-0-1 on the road) when tied after the first period, 4-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods and 6-1-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season.
The Bruins hit the road for a home game outdoors at Lake Tahoe against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC) before returning to the road for a three-game road trip against the New York Islanders on Feb. 25th and New York Rangers on Feb. 26th, as well as Feb. 28th.