Well, that was certainly… something. The Boston Bruins continued their point streak taking two points from the Devils (their 17th straight game in taking at least one point from an opponent) in somewhat controversial fashion. Boston won the game, 3-2. The Bruins are now 13-0-4 since December 14.
Following the loss at home against Detroit, the Devils had a player’s only meeting where the veterans spoke and let the team know that they had to get themselves in gear. And they did, largely outplaying the Bruins tonight and only taking the loss due to some strange circumstances.
Taylor Hall missed his second straight game with his hand injury and the Devils had some injury scares and one big one suffered tonight that we will get to later. The lineup from last night remained mostly the same, with Steven Santini being the healthy scratch. The Bruins were missing, among others, Charlie McAvoy, who is out for two weeks following a heart procedure he had a few days ago.
This game also marked Boston-native Brian Boyle’s first trip back to TD Garden as a Devil and since his cancer diagnosis this past offseason. Jimmy Hayes and Cory Schneider also were back in their home state.
Speaking of Cory, the goaltending matchup featured Schneider versus Tuukka Rask. Rask made 37 saves on 39 shots faced while Cory stopped 17 of 20. Cory would injure himself late in the second period and would not return for the third with what the team is calling a “lower body injury.” Ken Appleby stepped in in relief in the third and stopped all four shots he saw, keeping his NHL save percentage at 1.000.
While on the subject of injuries, the Devils got some scares throughout the night as, at various times, they lost John Moore, Sami Vatanen, Damon Severson and Marcus Johansson down the tunnel. The game even lost one of the linesmen at one point in the third as Devin Berg collided with the Bruins’ David Pastrnak inadvertently and had to leave the game.
All of the game’s scoring occurred in the second period with New Jersey getting on the board first. That happened at 2:05 when Nico Hischier skated to the near halfwall after penetrating the Bruins’ zone. He gave to Will Butcher at the top of the near faceoff circle. Butcher circled towards the wall to buy time and alleviate some pressure and then fired at the net. His shot was redirected in front by Miles Wood for the early 1-0 lead. With that assist, Butcher took over the NHL scoring lead for rookie defensemen, a list that will obviously be missing the ailing McAvoy for the near future.
It would only take the Bruins until the 7:03 mark to tie things as Riley Nash scored from Danton Heinen to make it 1-1. The puck seemed to just flutter over Cory’s shoulder on that goal, making for a weird one. The Devils, however, would retake the lead exactly two minutes after that goal at 9:03.
On that one, the Devils were sprung on a 3-on-2 odd man rush with Pavel Zacha dropping to Johansson, who then found Severson on the left wing. He fired and beat Rask to make it 2-1. Then things got a little bit crazy.
It began with a hit on Nico Hischier by Boston’s Kevan Miller that was clearly boarding, but was not called. Hischier was in a vulnerable position a few feet off of the boards and fell facefirst into the boards. Wood took exception to the play and gave Miller a shove that was apparently a cross check, received a shove back and was hit with interference as well. A Boston player put Nico Hischier in danger and the Bruins were essentially gifted a four minute power play. That all occurred at 11:30 of the second and at 12:03, while on the penalty kill, Johansson was (rightfully) called for tripping the Bruins’ Brandon Carlo. This set up a 5-on-3 for Boston.
Predictably, they scored when Patrice Bergeron found the back of the net at 12:53 from Brad Marchand and Torey Krug to tie it up at two. Now confusion hit, as the penalty clock was actually counting up instead of down, leading to the players on the ice not really knowing how much time they had on the penalties. Also, the officials did not know which of the three penalties should have expired on the goal (it was the cross checking one on Wood, since that was the penalty with the least amount of time left on it) and, on top of all that, the technicians at the TD Garden decided that they needed to change out the hardware that controls the scoreboard at the scorer’s table leading to an even lengthier delay!
The officials, according to MSG’s Bryce Salvador, would apologize to the Devils following the game for the call that would ultimately ruin their night.
To the Devils’ credit, they then went on to kill off the rest of the penalties on that sequence, making Boston 1-for-4 on the power play for the evening. They had four power play shots on goal. The Devils were 0-for-4 with five shots.
Once the dust settled on all of that, Boston would go on to score the game winner when Marchand scored on a 2-on-1 triggered by a Devils defensive breakdown. Pastrnak had the assist and the goal came with less than a minute left in the second period at 19:27.
In the third period, the Devils would pull Appleby with roughly a minute left in the game but to no avail, as they could not solve Rask again. Marchand had seemingly scored into the empty net, but replays showed that time had expired before the puck crossed the line and the goal did not count. Boston fans booed.
Severson led all Devils skaters in ice time with 23:35, although most of the d-men were banged up at various times during the night. Vatanen led in shots on goal with five. Severson and Blake Coleman led in hits with four each and Travis Zajac, Moore and Severson all had two blocks to lead in that category. The Devils did themselves no favors by winning only 39-percent of the faceoffs in the game.
So, next the Devils will try to regroup and come home to take on the Nashville Predators on Thursday. Hopefully they will have Schneider available and Hall could be back by then. Barring any other nonsense, the Devils could have a chance in this one against a tough Western Conference opponent.