The Devils’ point streak ended at four games and their winning streak was halted at three games as the Boston Bruins came into Prudential Center for a 1 PM matinee and defeated New Jersey, 5-2.
I was at the game, celebrating my birthday a week early – I finish orbiting the sun for another year on the 20th while Devils are in Tampa. It was my nephews’ first live hockey game as the attended with their parents and they loved it. My older nephew was intently watching everything and was especially into the Zambonis during the intermissions (he loves things like firetrucks, so that was a natural for him). Hopefully, two new Devils fans were minted today.
But what they ultimately witnessed was a loss, unfortunately.
In the Devils’ lineup, Yegor Sharangovich was back in, slotting in up front. Defenseman Colton White and forwards Tyce Thompson and Mason Geertsen were the Devils’ scratches.
In net, Mackenzie Blackwood had been playing well – defeating the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders (who he shutout, in fact) in his two consecutive starts this week. The Devils, however, elected to give him the game off and went back to Jonathan Bernier, who last played a week ago, last Saturday in the shootout win at San Jose.
Bernier made 31 saves on 35 shots against for an .886 save percentage. He stopped both Boston shorthanded shots against and three of their four power play shots. The Bruins were 1-for-2 on the power play for the afternoon. Bernier stopped 26 of 28 shots at even strength. Boston finished with 36 total shots with an empty net goal late in the game.
The Bruins countered with Jeremy Swayman who made 27 saves on 29 Devils total for a .931 save percentage. He was equal to the Devils’ lone power play shot (New Jersey ended up 0-for-3 on the power play advantage). At even strength, Swayman stopped 26 of the Devils’ 28 shots.
Erik Haula got the Bruins on the board at the 17:37 mark of the first period when Karson Kulhman gained the Devils zone and dropped to Anton Blidh. Blidh took a shot on Bernier and Haula, going towards the net, put the rebound in to give the B’s the 1-0 lead.
It remained that way until the early part of the second period when Boston doubled up their lead.
At the 4:10 mark, Brad Marchand scored his first of two goals on the afternoon with this one coming on the power play.
Dawson Mercer was called for tripping New Jersey-native Connor Clifton at 2:58 of the second period. With the extra man, Patrice Bergeron curled around at the half wall and passed to Charlie McAvoy at the point. McAvoy bobbled the puck but was able to go across to Marchand at the other point. Marchand was able to skate towards the middle of the ice and shoot, beating Bernier cleanly to make it 2-0 Boston.
The Bruins were up by two, but the Devils would cut that lead in half just 28 seconds after Marchand’s goal.
At the 4:10 mark, Jesper Bratt intercepted a pass from Curtis Lazar in the neutral zone. Bratt broke into the Boston zone with Andreas Johnsson on a partial 2-on-1 with Mercer trailing with a Bruins defender. Bratt passed across to Johnsson at the circles and Johnsson found Mercer behind with a one-touch pass. Mercer ripped a shot, beating Swayman to get the Devils on the board and make it 2-1.
The Bruins would get that one back, though when, at the 6:52 mark of the second, Marchand struck again to make it 3-1 Boston.
McAvoy passed to David Pastrnak cross-ice when the two crossed into the Devils’ zone on the rush. Pastrnak shot with Marchand crashing the net. The puck dribbled out to Marchand in front after Bernier stopped Pastrnak’s shot. With Marchand there, he put it the rebound in to put Boston back up by two goals. It was Marchand’s second of the afternoon and McAvoy’s second assist as well.
The Devils would continue to play catch up and got back within one before the end of the second period.
With 36 seconds to go in that frame, the Devils applied pressure in the Boston zone. Defensemen PK Subban and Jonas Siegenthaler did a great job of holding the blue line multiple times, keeping eth puck in alive in the offensive zone.
Finally, off of a board battle in the corner, a loose puck came right to Bratt. Bratt guided the puck to Mercer in the slot. Mercer grabbed the puck, spun around and passed to Bratt, who had positioned himself at the bottom of the far faceoff circle. Bratt swept a one-timer into the empty far side of the net. This was both Bratt and Mercer’s second points of the night.
That made it 3-2 and the Devils seemed poised for a comeback in the third period.
However, Boston would end up putting things away in third for good.
It began at the 10:49 mark of the third when Pastrnak drove towards the Devils net, making a power move. Bernier stopped him and Bergeron crashed in, putting the rebound in from in front. That made it 4-2 Boston – the game-winner for them. McAvoy notched the secondary assist, his third point (all assists) on the afternoon.
The Bruins would add an empty net goal by Jake DeBrusk after the Devils had pulled Bernier with about a minute and a half left in regulation. The goal came unassisted at the 19:06 mark of the third and gave us our final of 5-2.
The Bruins outshot the Devils 36 to 29. The Devils won 46-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Jesper Boqvist led the Devils centers with a 50-percent personal wining percentage. Boston ended up with eight team penalty minutes while the Devils had six. The Devils were outhit 16 to 11 and had only eight blocked shots to the Bruins’ 25. The Devils doubled up on giveaways at eight to Boston’s four.
Damon Severson led all Devils skaters with 23:43 of total ice time logged (including 2:38 on the power play and 1:36 on the penalty kill). Nico Hischier led the Devils forwards with 21:54 time on ice (including 3:07 on the PP and 1:21 shorthanded).
Mercer and Bratt, as mentioned, each had two points – both with a goal and an assist – to lead the Devils in scoring. Pavel Zacha led in shots on goal for the Devils with six, just edging out Bratt who had five. Severson and Subban both had two blocks to lead in that category. Bratt had a strong game but did lead the Devils in turnovers with three while Tomas Tatar had four takeaways to lead there.
Next up, a real quick turnaround as the Devils will travel to Manhattan tomorrow for a duel with the archrival Rangers. Puck drop for that game is 7 PM on MSG+ and we will have a recap for you at a much more reasonable time after the game.
Until then, enjoy the rest of your Saturday, everyone!