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.