To begin, I would like to thank Steve Paskovich, who rescued the site following an update gone wrong by me. The site was down for a few days, but he did the heavy lifting to get it back up and running. We didn’t lose anything and the site will even be seeing some improvements in the coming weeks and months.
And now back to your regularly scheduled Devils loss.
And so, the two-game winning streak is over. All it took was running into an angry Boston Bruins team and getting trounced 5-1 at Prudential Center tonight.
The Bruins were losers of five of their last six coming into tonight and they were ready to get back on the winning track. The B’s have won seven of their last eight meetings with the Devils and this would be the cure for Boston’s recent skid.
Some roster housekeeping to get to to begin with. Firstly, Cory Schneider did clear waivers and will report to Binghamton. Secondly, the Devils activated Sami Vatanen off of injured reserve after missing the last four games. He slotted in on defense in place of Matt Tennyson. Kevin Rooney remains out and Jesper Boqvist was the other scratch for the Devils. The line combinations remained the same as the last game versus Montreal.
The Bruins were missing Patrice Bergeron for this game, so the Devils dodged that bullet. Steven Kampfer was their other scratch.
The game began on a high note for the Devils, when goalie Mackenzie Blackwood stopped a partial breakaway and then turned aside a follow-up shot from Charlie McAvoy.
From there, the rest of the first period fell apart for the Devils.
It began at 14:36 of that frame when Brad Marchand was at the point and found Matt Grzelcyk near the near faceoff dot. Grzelcyk sniped one by Blackwood to make it 1-0 Bruins. David Krejci had the other assist. This goal came right after the Bruins had killed off a Devils power play.
Just 14 seconds later, Marchand and Krejci teamed up with David Pastrnak to make it 2-0. Marchand sped into the Devils’ zone and found Pastrnak trailing. Pastrnak then fired from nearly the same place Grzelcyk’s goal came from. Krejci once again had the other assist.
The first period ended on a nice note for the Devils when Blake Coleman, who was playing in his 200th NHL game tonight, used his speed to go up the left wing boards and got a shot off as he was falling and just as the buzzer was sounding. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask turned the puck aside anyway, but it would not have gone in before time expired.
But Coleman would get his in the second period. He ended 98 plus minutes of Rask shutting out the Devils this season – he notched a shutout in their first meeting back in October – when he scored at 18:11 of the middle frame. The Devils won a puck battle in their own zone and Will Butcher got it to Nikita Gusev through the neutral zone. Gusev made a nice move to enter the Boston zone and found Coleman cutting through the middle of the ice. He then backhanded the puck by Rask to cut the Boston lead in half at 2-1. The goal moved Coleman’s point streak to four games.
The Devils seemed to be building some momentum, but then things fell apart completely in the third period.
It began just 3:19 into the frame when Pastrnak scored his second of the game on the power play. Pastrnak drew the penalty as PK Subban was called for tripping him at 3:11. On the ensuing man advantage, Marchand, who ended the game with three assists, passed from the far half wall to Pastrnak, who blasted one cleanly by Blackwood to make it 3-1. Charlie Coyle had the secondary assist.
The Bruins finished the night 1-for-2 on the power play with a single shot. The Devils were 0-for-2 with a single shot as well. Neither team registered a shorthanded shot on goal.
Boston made it 4-1 when Grzelcyk scored his second of the night from McAvoy at 10:33 of the third. This came when Grzelcyk made a nice move around Subban at the Devils blue line and stepped up and roofed the puck by Blackwood.
Matawan, New Jersey-native Connor Clifton rounded out the scoring when he scored unassisted at 13:42 of the third. The Bruins’ forecheck forced a loose puck to Clifton at the point. He took a shot that knuckled by Blackwood to make it 5-1. Clifton had about 150 family and friends in attendance so his second of the year must have been a special one for him.
The Devils won just 40-percent of the game’s faceoffs, were outhit by Boston 18-15, were doubled up in blocks at 14 by the B’s to their seven and had 15 giveaways to the Bruins’ six.
In goal, Blackwood, who has now become a real workhorse for the Devils, especially with Schneider being sent down to the AHL, made 23 saves on 28 shots for an .821 save percentage. Rask was 25-for-26 for a .962 save percentage. Rask was named the game’s third star while Grzelcyk was the second and Pastrnak was the first in a Boston sweep.
Vatanen, back from injury, led the team in time on ice in the game with 22:25 total (2:43 of power play time included). Travis Zajac led the forwards with 17:35 (eight seconds on the power play and 1:35 shorthanded included). Gusev led the Devils in shots with four while Coleman led in hits with four. Mirco Mueller led in blocked shots with two and Jack Hughes led in takeaways with two.
The Devils’ next play on Friday at Pittsburgh. It will be their second game against the Penguins in seven days and they will be hoping to complete a November sweep of the Pens. Louis Domingue will be getting his first start in either that game or, more likely, in the second half of the back-to-back against the Detroit Red Wings. We will see you on Friday.