Boston Massacre: Devils Lose Ninth Straight on Road

Some games just are best left forgotten. Unless you are a Bruins fan in this case.

The grass was certainly greener on the Boston side of things as the Devils lost to the B’s 8-1 tonight at TD Garden, including giving up six goals in the second period in their worst drubbing in just over three years.

It’s probably better to just report the facts and then move on as this one was not pretty.

The Devils made a few key changes to their lineup including seeing Tyce Thompson finally emerging from Injured Reserve and being reassigned to Utica of the American Hockey League.

Andreas Johnsson was not ill tonight – he had missed Sunday’s game against Montreal with a “non-COVID related illness” – but was still not dressed. He was a coach’s decision as Mason Geertsen slotted in on the left side with Michael McLeod centering and Nathan Bastian playing right-wing on the fourth line.

In addition, Ty Smith was back in on the blue line, teaming with PK Subban on the third pairing. Colton White, Pavel Zacha and Janne Kuokkanen were the scratches.

In goal, Nico Daws made his fifth consecutive start but was unable to finish the night. In about 29:01 or roughly half of the game, he made 15 stops on 20 total Bruins’ shots for a save percentage of .750. He was equal to the Bruins only shorthanded shot and two of their three power play shots. Boston went 1-for-3 on the man advantage total between the two New Jersey goaltenders. At even strength, he stopped 12 of 16.

That other goaltender was Jon Gillies, who played the other 30:59 of the game and made 17 saves on 20 more Boston shots for a nightly save percentage of .850. He stopped the only Bruins power play chance he saw and got 16 of the 19 shots thrown at him at five-versus-five.

The Bruins finished the game with a combined 40 shots on Devils goaltending.

Boston, who honored longtime star goalie Tuuka Rask (who recently retired for a second time mid-season) before the game, started Linus Ullmark for tonight’s game. He had a much better night than the Devils goalies, making 25 saves on 26 total Devils shots. He had a .962 save percentage in the game. He got both of the Devils’ power play shots as New Jersey was 0-for-3 on the power play as a team. At full strength, he stopped 23 of the Devils’ 24 shots on him.

The Devils came into the game trying to break an eight-game road losing streak. Their mission did not end tonight by any stretch of the imagination.

The Bruins wasted absolutely no time with Matt Grzelcyk scoring just 57 seconds into the game.

Taylor Hall flipped the puck into the Devils zone and the Boston forecheck was able to force a turnover when Jonas Siegenthaler attempted to curl the puck up the boards but did not clear. Instead, Grzelcyk intercepted it at the point, blasted a shot and beat Daws cleanly for the unassisted goal to make it 1-0 Bruins.

The game then began to take a turn towards the strange when a problem occurred with the game clock throughout TD Garden.

Essentially, the clock “froze” and the Bruins needed to call in tech support.

While staying in connection with the Situation Room in Toronto, the on-and-off ice officials tried to keep things moving towards a resolution while the players all hit the ice to keep limber. Things did not look to be going in a very good direction when the scoreboard graphics reset to “Bruins versus Maple Leafs” and the television broadcast needed to restart sans the clock on the graphic bug.

Everything was back to normal within a few minutes after play did resume.

The action then turned toward the chippy. It started at 2:56 gone by when Josh Brown and Geertsen squared off in a fight. Brown took a hit from Geertsen in the neutral zone and the two challenged each other and scrapped with the fight eventually ending in a draw as the two combatants simply tired out at the end of the spirited bout.

As if that bit of feistiness wasn’t enough, a few minutes later, at the 4:16 mark, Miles Wood threw a big (but legal) hit on Charlie McAvoy deep in the Bruins zone. Mike Reilly took exception and wrestled Wood down to the ice. There was no actual fight and, in fact, the Devils ended up with the power play since Reilly took a double minor for roughing while Wood only got two minutes.

Boston would kill that off, however.

The Devils did get things even at the 11:02 mark of the first when Damon Severson got the puck down low to Nico Hischier. Hischier was behind the Boston net and spun away from his check, falling down in the process, but still managing to sweep the puck over to Jack Hughes, who was camped out at a sharp angle down at (almost below) the Bruins goal line.

Hughes took a shot and beat Ullmark from that impossible angle to put the game even at one. It was Hughes’ 25th goal of the season.

Unfortunately, it would be the only time the Devils would solve Ullmark on this night. The secondary assist for Severson extended his point streak to five-games.

The Bruins would retake the lead prior to the end of the first period when Jake DeBrusk scored at 16:09 gone by. On this one, Patrice Bergeron fired a long shot off of the rush from just inside of the Devils blue line.

DeBrusk was able to just skate right into the middle lane unchecked and score on a long rebound given up by Daws. That made it 2-1 Boston. Hampus Lindholm had the secondary assist.

Then came the nightmare scenario for the Devils: the second period of tonight’s game. The Bruins ended up scoring six goals in the second frame – seven total including DeBrusk’s goal at the end of the first – for the first six goal period for the Bruins since 1983.

It started 2:22 into the second when Mikey McLeod could not clear the puck when he tried to make a backhanded clear out of the Devils zone. The puck was turned over to David Pastrnak, who attempted a wraparound where Daws stopped him. The rebound was put in by Erik Haula, who, again, was left unchecked and could get on the loose rebound.

McLeod had attempted to clear the puck blindly through the middle of the ice and the mistake came back to haunt the Devils. It would be far from the only one.

At the 6:33 mark, Brad Marchand scored his first of two on the night  when Grzelcyk got the puck to DeBrusk down at the Devils goal line.

DeBrusk made a pass to Marchand at the near faceoff circle as Daws attempted to poke check the puck off of DeBrsk’s stick. Marchand was then able to get a perfectly placed shot off and score. Daws’ mistake of going for the poke check kept him from beging able to get set for Marchand’s shot. That made it 4-1 Boston.

It became 5-1 a few minutes later at 9:01 gone by when Patrice Bergeron scored on the power play.

Jesper Boqvist was called for a delay of game faceoff violation putting the Bruins on the power play.

On the only power play converted in the game, Charlie McAvoy gained some room down along the near wall in the Devils zone. He worked the puck up to Pastrnak at the point.

Pastrnak got an accurate shot off that Patrice Bergeron, camped out in front of Daws and providing a screen in front, was able to tip by Daws.

The rout was officially on and continued at the 10:34 mark when Marchand scored his second of the night. Daws was replaced by Gillies following the Bergeron power play goal.

It began when DeBrusk laid a big hit into Smith in the far corner, effectively taking the Devils defenseman out of the play.

Boston was able to move the puck from Reilly on one side of the ice who slid it to a waiting Marchand on the far side of the net. Marchand cashed it in to make it 6-1.

The Bruins continued on at the 12:04 mark when Severson blocked a shot in the Devils zone and the puck bounced to Trent Frederic, who was in on a partial 2-on-1 with Marc McLaughlin. McLaughlin, playing in his first NHL game, then scored his first NHL goal to give us a 7-1 score.

The keynote came from who else? Taylor Hall at 16:12 gone by.

This saw Hischier tried to gather a pass just inside the Devils blue line. He bobbled it and Pastrnak recovered to enter in on a partial 2-on-1 with Hall. Pastrnak passed to Hall, who found the puck of the net to give us our final score of 8-1.

This was the second time this season that the Devils had been victimized for at least eight goals in a game (they lost 8-4 in Winnipeg back on December 3, 2021).

They nearly gave up another too when Marchand shot a puck into a vacated net after being whistled for offside with 1:01 remaining in the frame.

No goal was called on ice and PK Subban did take exception to Marchand shooting the puck after the whistle had sounded. Some fans also threw their hats on the ice assuming that the Boston agitator had completed the hat trick. It did not count though and we were off to the third period.

In the end, the Devils suffered their worst loss since March 12, 2019 when they lost 9-4 at the Calgary Flames. Mackenzie Blackwood let in all nine that night instead of the split loss suffered by Daws and Gillies tonight.

The Devils were outshot 40-26 and won just 40-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Individually, McLeod won 50-percent of his draws to lead the Devils centers in that personal category.

Each team evened out with 23 penalty minutes team wide. The Bruins outhit the Devils 23-20 while the Devils blocked more shots as a team at 13 to Boston’s six. The Devils had 15 turnovers as a team and the Bruins had ten.

Ice time saw Severson lead all Devils skaters with 23:06 of total ice time. This included 3:24 on the power play and 3:02 on the penalty kill. Those special team times led the defensemen.

Nico Hischier led the forwards in total time with 20:37 (which includes 3:24 of power play time and 2:39 of PK time). Nate Bastian, Jesper Bratt and Hughes each logged 3:24 on the power play as well while Nico’s shorthanded time was tops for the forwards.

Bastian’s total ice time was 11:28, Bratt’s was 17:14 and Hughes’ total TOI was 17:40.

Individually, Geertsen led in penalty minutes with 15. Tomas Tatar had four shots to lead there. Jimmy Vesey and Jonas Siegenthaler had three hits to lead in that column. Subban led in blocks with four. Hughes ended up with three personal turnovers to lead in that category while Yegor Sharangovich, Boqvist, Tatar, Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Graves and Subban each had one personal takeaway for the lead in that category.

Next up, things will get even tougher for the Devils in terms of Atlantic Division opponents as the Florida Panthers come to Newark on Saturday for a 12:30 PM tilt to be shown on MSG+.

Due to previous plans, I will be recording that game and will watch it on Sunday, getting the post up by Sunday afternoon or evening at the latest. This will also push Sunday’s matinee against the Islanders to Monday possibly. Hopefully I can keep up and get everything filed at a reasonable time.

Until then, enjoy the rest of your week everyone!

Devils Win Streak Comes to End in Beantown

The Devils’ three-game win streak came to a halt as the team fell 5-3 in Boston to the Bruins.

Let’s get right to the point, though. The Devils were depleted big time.

As reported by Sam Kasan earlier today, team captain Nico Hischier (lower body injury) was out for tonight as he had blocked a key shot at the end of the second period of the game in Washington on Sunday. The good news is that it was reported by Devils TV play-by-play man Steve Cangilosi at the end of the MSG+ broadcast tonight that Nico will rejoin the team tomorrow and will likely practice with them.

Today was also Hischier’s 23rd birthday, so happy birthday to the captain!

In more sobering injury news, the team announced that goalie Jonathan Bernier had successful right hip surgery on Monday and will miss the rest of the season. In addition, defenseman Dougie Hamilton (broken jaw) will have surgery tomorrow – Wednesday, January 5 – and be place on Injured Reserve retroactive to January 2.

In COVID Protocol news Kasan also reported that the Devils got Tomas Tatar off of the list and back in the lineup tonight, but lost Yegor Sharangovich and Pavel Zacha to COVID Protocol. They join head coach Lindy Ruff and forward Jimmy Vesey already on the list.

Due to this major upheaval on the roster, the Devils slotted Mason Geertsen back in on the fourth line and had defenseman Christian Jaros in for Hamilton. Alexander Holtz also played in his first NHL game since November 20th for the Devils. Tatar played left wing on the top line with Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt.

In goal, the Devils were back to Mackenzie Blackwood as he has to be a workhorse for the time being. He made 29 saves on 34 total Bruins shots for an .853 save percentage on the night. He stopped Boston’s lone shorthanded shot and their only power play shot. The Bruins were 0-for-1 on the power play. He made 27 saves on 32 shots at five-against-five.

The Bruins went with Linus Ullmark, who was equal to 23 of the Devils’ 26 to shots for a nightly save percentage of .885. He got both of the Devils’ shorthanded shots and 21 of their 24 at even strength. The Devils were also 0-for-1 on the power play in a game where very little was called against either team.

The Bruins were in their “non-spoked B” third jerseys tonight.

Boston took the early lead just 2:53 into the game when Holtz had the puck in the Bruins zone and tried to lightly bank the puck off of the boards instead of just getting it deeper in the zone.

Curtis Lazar recovered off of that turnover and was in on a partial 2-on-1. He elected to shoot himself off of the rush up the right wing and beat Blackwood 5-hole unassisted to give the B’s the 1-0 lead.

Then the scary moments began for the Devils beginning mid-first period when Brandon Carlo tried to flip a puck to Taylor Hall through the neutral zone and Andreas Johnsson got hit in the side of the helmet with the puck.

Johnsson skated off on his own power and did return right away, however.

The Devils were playing catchup and would get things tied up just 57 seconds into what would become a wild second period.

The Bruins were trying to go D-to-D and a pass to David Pastrnak, who had been winding up for a one-timer, was picked off by Nate Bastian with perfect timing. Bastian was then off on his own on Ullmark, scoring glove side on the breakaway following the perfect read. That tied the game at one. The goal was unassisted.

For 20 seconds.

At 1:17 gone by, one of the strangest goals you will ever see occurred. The puck ended up on top of the Devils net. The rule states that the puck is still in play for three seconds. If it sits on top of the netting for three seconds or more, the whistle can be blown and play called dead.

In a heads-up play, Boston’s Oskar Steen jarred it loose and the puck rolled down Blackwood’s back and into the net. When it was timed by the MSG+ video staff, it had sat on top of the net for 1.5 seconds. Derek Forbort (secondary) and Nick Foligno (primary) had the assists on Steen’s first NHL goal – one of the weirdest first NHL goals you will ever see.

It was now 2-1 B’s but the Devils would not sit back on that either. Their response came at the 3:05 mark when Jesper Bratt gained the Bruins zone and dished to Jack Hughes on the right side. He got the puck to the returning Tatar, who shot through a maze of legs in front to knot the game at two apiece.

Hughes, with the primary assist, now moves his point scoring streak to four games.

Things would settle down for a bit until the Bruins retook the lead at the 9:42 mark of the second.

This was another odd goal. Lazar got the puck deep into the Devils zone and Trent Frederic recovered down low. Frederic threw sort of blindly towards Blackwood’s net on the backhand. Blackwood could not seal off the far post fast enough and the puck snuck in between his arm and the post, making it 3-2 Bruins.

Right after the Frederic goal, Dawson Mercer was hit in the face with a puck and needed to leave for the locker room for repairs. He would return, however, as the Devils dodged another bullet.

That took us into the third period, which was another relatively wild ride.

The scoring began when Damon Severson was called for the Devils first penalty 5:28 into the frame. He received a two-minute minor for holding Frederic’s stick.

The Devils would kill that off with a very effective PK and, as Severson was coming out of the penalty box, Michael McLeod hit him with a high flip pass that sprung Severson on a breakaway. Severson cut in on Ullmark and made a nice forehand to backhand move and scored to tie the game at three. That goal came at the 7:36 mark of the third.

That goal moved Severson up to sixth in goalscoring for defensemen in franchise history and fifth in Devils history. Joe Cirella just ahead of him on the franchise list and actually scored seven of his goals with the Colorado Rockies, so that actually puts Damon at fifth on a Devils-only list.

Things seemed to be headed towards another late ending and that was just what we got, just not in the Devils’ favor this time.

At the 14:11 mark of the third, Hall had a shot blocked to the far corner by Blackwood. Pastrnak got it back and made a power move towards the front of the Devils net. Blackwood fended off his initial chance but Pastrnak was right there to put his own rebound in to give the Bruins back the lead at 4-3. Erik Haula had the secondary assist on the goal.

Blackwood was pulled for the extra attacker with about 1:46 left to play. The Devils could not score and, when a faceoff brought the play back down out of the Boston zone, Blackwood was back in the Devils net.

And here was where the Bruins would ice things.

With less than thirty seconds to go in regulation, Tomas Nosek passed to Carlo, who got just inside the Devils blue line. He took a long-range shot that deflected off the inside of Mercer’s leg and by Blackwood to make it 5-3 Boston, our final.

Hughes, who had his stick broken on a not-called-slash on the play had a gripe, but the goal counted and the Devils’ bid for their first four-game winning streak since the 2018-19 season was done.

The Devils were outshot 34 to 26. Boston absolutely annihilated them in the faceoff circle, winning 64-percent of the game’s draws. Jesper Boqvist led the Devils centers with a 50-percent personal winning percentage.

The Devils were outhit 29 to 25. They did have more blocked shots than the Bruins with 13 to Boston’s nine. The Devils have 15 team giveaways to the B’s ten.

Time on ice saw PK Subban led everyone with 26:07 (including 47 seconds on the power play and 1:28 shorthanded). Severson led the d-men in power play time with 1:13 of that included in his 25:08 of total ice time.

For the forwards, Hughes totaled 20:08 of ice time to lead there – which included 1:13 of PP time. McLeod led the forwards in PK time with 1:32 worked into his total of 17:16 of total TOI.

Ryan Graves led in shots on goal with five. Nate Bastian led in hits with six. Blocks were led by Mercer, Graves and Jonas Siegenthaler with two each. Mercer led in individual giveaways with four. Takeaways were led by Subban with three.

Next up, the Devils will kick off a home-and-home series with the Columbus Blue Jackets beginning on Thursday with the first game at Prudential Center in 2022. Puck drop for that game is 7 PM and the game will be aired on MSG+.

We will have coverage for you right here following that game. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your week everyone!