Last season, the Devils played a tight checking, close game in Boston that resulted in a loss for the team and the loss (to injury) of several players. They returned to TD Garden tonight for the Bruins’ home opener – something the Devils just experienced on Thursday. Would the Bruins have the emotional advantage? Or would the Devils spoil their homecoming? How would the Devils capitalize on their first home opening win since 2012-13?
The pregame ceremonies were highlighted by the legendary Bobby Orr and 98-year-old Milt Schmidt dropping the puck for the ceremonial faceoff between captains Andy Greene and Zdeno Chara. A great start to the Bruins’ 93rd NHL season. This was the 150th meeting between the Devils and Bruins all-time, so a milestone was met there.
In net for the Devils once again was Marblehead, Massachusetts native Cory Schneider. He made 34 saves on 36 Boston shots on goal. Tuukka Rask got the nod for the Bruins, making 28 saves on 29 Devils shots. Rask had a good offensive game the other night in Winnipeg, as he notched two assists in that game.
The first period was scoreless and, in fact, no penalties were called on either team. The referees generally kept their whistles away and let them play, until the second when the Travis Zajac first went off for high-sticking Colin Miller at 4:06. Then, down a man already, Taylor Hall was called for slashing John-Michael Liles. The Devils were down on a 5-on-3 for 14 seconds. They would eventually kill off both penalties, holding Boston to only one shot on the entire 5-on-3.
The Bruins’ best chance actually came when Patrice Bergeron hit the post just as the Zajac penalty was expiring.
Early in the third period, Hall would draw a penalty when he was hooked by Bergeron. On the delayed call, he nearly had a chance to tap in a shot on the side of the net. However, Chara was able to get his stick on the puck and deflect it away as Hall was about to hammer the puck home. Chara, with his extra-long reach had an advantage there that most other players do not have and he was able to keep the game scoreless.
The Devils finally broke through at 4:14 of the third period on the power play. Bergeron had gone off giving the Devils the man advantage and Kyle Palmieri notched his second goal of the young season when Jacob Josefson gave the puck to Damon Severson at the point. He bobbled the pass, but was able to deftly keep it in the zone and passed it over to Palmieri at the top of the near faceoff circle. Palmieri’s quick slapper just beat Rask glove side after it was deflected off of a Bruins’ player’s leg. The Devils led 1-0.
But it would not last long, first Brad Marchand tied the game at 9:47 when he skated a pass from Liles into the Devils zone and wristed one past Schneider. Bergeron then gave the Bruins the lead they would not relinquish at 18:45 when he scored from Marchand and David Pastrnak. The Bruins now had a 2-1 lead.
The Devils would have a few chances to tie the game, however. After pulling Schneider for the extra attacker, the Devils were able to cause a scrum in front of the Boston net. Although they did not score, in the ensuing pushing and shoving, the Bruins’ David Backes was called for roughing Taylor Hall. The Devils would now have a 6-on-4 advantage with the faceoff deep in Boston territory.
And the Devils had some looks, but ultimately, they could not get a clear shot on goal and were not able to tie it up. They had lost a heartbreaker in Boston again.
Now, they return home for their next four. They will commemorate the Martin Brodeur statue on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild and then will face Arizona, Chicago and Tampa Bay at home. These are not easy games; they are against playoff teams (Minnesota), young teams on the cusp of making the playoffs (Arizona) and Stanley Cup contenders (Chicago and Tampa). How will the Devils be able to respond after this set back in Boston? We will find out starting Saturday.
I will be attending the Minnesota game, so once again, my post on that game may come a little bit later.