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!