The Devils’ homestand continued tonight with a 5-1 loss to another Stanley Cup contender, the Boston Bruins. New Jersey drops the three game season series to Boston, two games to one.
One bit of housekeeping to get to first. According to Craig Seiden on Twitter (@CraigSeiden), Joey Anderson had an assist added to Kenny Agostino’s goal on Tuesday night against Washington. So that goal was not unassisted.
Roster-wise, Kyle Palmieri left the Capitals game in the first period with an apparent upper body injury. He would not play tonight. Will Butcher was also out tonight with an illness. However, making his return from injured reserve was Pavel Zacha, who had been out with a concussion for the last 16 games. Nick Lappin was reassigned to Binghamton of the AHL and defenseman Josh Jacobs was recalled from Binghamton to replace Butcher on the roster tonight. This was his NHL debut and he wore number 40.
Another player making his debut in his home state was Long Branch, New Jersey-native Connor Clifton of the Bruins. The Boston d-man wore number 75.
And Clifton’s team would be playoff bound if the B’s won tonight in regulation and the Canadiens lost in any fashion to the Islanders in their game. The Bruins held their end of the bargain, but unfortunately for them, Montreal beat the Isles 4-0, so it was a no go for that.
In goal, the Devils were back to Cory Schneider. He stopped 22 of 26 Boston shots for an .846 save percentage on the night. Opposing him was Bruins workhorse Tuukka Rask. He stopped 21 of 22 Devils shots for a .955 save percentage. Rask would go on to be named the game’s third star.
On special teams, Boston was 0-for-3 on the power play with four shots while the Devils were 0-for-1 with two shots. The Devils also had a shorthanded shot to go along with things. The Devils actually kind of got away with a play in the second period when a Steven Santini cross checking penalty was finishing up. Santini came out of the penalty box and immediately played the puck. If any part of his second foot was still on the floor of the penalty box, this would have been a penalty. The officials got together and linesman Darren Gibbs later told Devils iceside reporter Bryce Salvador that they felt that there was no penalty due to Santini’s second foot being in the air at the time he touched the puck. Good break for the Devils there.
The first goal of the game did not occur until the 18:34 mark of the first period when Patrice Bergeron scored from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. On the play, Andy Greene’s stick broke and Bergeron was all alone on the side of the Devils’ net after a missed assignment by Damon Severson. Pastrnak made a nice pass to Bergeron and he potted it for the first goal of night. It was 1-0 Bruins.
That line of Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron would give the Devils fits all night. In fact, Bergeron was named the game’s second star while Pastrnak was the first star of the night. They would factor into the second goal of the night when the Bruins won a faceoff deep in the New Jersey zone at 12:58. Bergeron won the faceoff to Marchand who feathered a nice pass to Pastrnak set up in front of the net. That made it 2-0 Boston.
The Devils finally got on the board a little less than two minutes later at 14:51 when Drew Stafford scored. Pavel Zacha sold a shot at the top of the far faceoff circle and then made a perfect pass to Stafford at the near faceoff dot. Rask was down and Stafford tapped it in to give the Devils a goal, cutting the B’s lead in half to 2-1 and ending Rask’s shutout streak that he had going at 101:49.
But that was it for the Devils’ offense on the night.
Danton Heinen scored 29 seconds into the third frame from Sean Kuraly off of a two-on-one. That made it 3-1 Bruins and largely broke the Devils’ collective backs.
Cory was pulled with about two minutes remaining in the game and Boston took advantage with Bergeron scoring into the empty net. Marchand and David Krejci had the assists on that one. That goal came at 18:42 of the third and made it 4-1 Boston to ice the game.
But the Bruins were not done. At the 19:38 mark of the third, David Backes, cutting by Schneider’s crease, redirected a Noel Acciari shot by the Devils netminder to give us our final of 5-1.
The Devils ended the night being out shot 27-22 and losing in the faceoff circle with Boston winning 53-percent of the game’s draws. New Jersey did have more hits at 26 to the Bruins’ 14 and more blocked shots at 15 to Boston’s seven. However in giveaways, the Devils had nine while the Bruins had only one.
Individually, Severson led all skaters in ice time with 23:29 (53 seconds on the power play and 4:44 on the penalty kill) while Joey Anderson led the forwards with 18:11 (2:29 on the PK). Shots on goal were led by Eric Tangradi, Michael McLeod, Blake Pietila and Santini who all had three. Hits were led by Agostino and McLeod with five each. Blocked shots were led by Greene with five as he hones in on the Devils single season record for that stat. Takeaways were led by Anderson with two.
Next up, the Devils’ homestand continues as they take on the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday at 1 PM. I will be attending this game live and, as such, my report will be up a little bit later. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment. They are always appreciated.