Rask Leads Bruins Past Devils; Jagr Scores Only Goal

Jaromir Jagr celebrates his first goal as a Bruin - the game-winner against New Jersey.

Jaromir Jagr celebrates his first goal as a Bruin – the game-winner against New Jersey.

A slow start didn’t make for a slow finish and after being outplayed in the first 20 minutes, the Bruins got a spark early in the second from their newest addition and found a way to come out on top with a 1-0 win over the Devils Thursday night at TD Garden. A lucky bounce off the skate of the future Hall-of-Famer, Jaromir Jagr, was all that Tuukka Rask would need on the night as he made a season-high 40 saves on 40 shots to pick up his 16th win (first since March 25) and third shutout of the season.

Though the team struggled in the faceoff circle without Patrice Bergeron, they found a way to do just enough on a night they weren’t at their best. They won just 23-of-51 faceoffs on the night, but extended their home point streak to nine games with their 24th victory of the season in the debuts of both Jagr and Kaspars Daugavins.

“They looked great out there,” said Johnny Boychuk after the game as he was sporting a rather sizable cut on his lip. “Jags got the goal, Kaspars did a great job there as well. [Jagr’s] a great player, but we have to play ourselves as well; it has to be a team effort and that’s what we did tonight,” he added.

The first 20 minutes were scoreless but largely favored the Devils, who outshot Boston, 17-6, as the team picked up right where they left off against Ottawa in shots allowed. Rask made all 17 saves, including some great ones, and if it weren’t for him it could have been 3-0 heading into the room. He robbed David Clarkson, as he had a chance on a rebound, by flashing the right pad and was helped out by his defense and back-checking forwards to prevent an open-net chance for Patrik Elias. The Bruins had some chances with the first line constructing a pretty triangle, but being unable to convert and Jagr had a couple of chances on his own coming off of tips after receiving a standing ovation from the Garden.

The deadlock was broken just 1:20 into the second and it was Jagr who got the B’s on the board with the 680th goal of his career and first as a Boston Bruin. Zdeno Chara‘s long reach got the play started as he broke up a partial breakaway in the defensive end and got the puck up ice and eventually onto the stick of Brad Marchand. Streaking down the left wing, Marchand fed a pass in front and it deflected perfectly off the left skate of Jagr right through the five-hole of Martin Brodeur to give the B’s the 1-0 lead. The goal was Jagr’s 15th of the season, 680th of his career and first as a Bruin. It was a big momentum swing for Boston after they were largely outplayed in the first and it also prompted a “Jagr! Jagr!” chant from the TD Garden crowd for the active NHL leader in goals.

A Bruins’ power-play chance saw Jagr with a shift of 2:08 as both units looked pretty solid, but they could not extend their lead. Just after the penalty kill, Dainius Zubrus rang the post as he beat Rask and a couple minutes after that New Jersey hit metal again, but Rask remained strong, making 11 more saves in the frame with a help from a couple of his friends in red.

“He saved our bacon,” said Claude Julien on the excellent play of his goaltender.

The third saw more chances for both teams and more saves for Rask with the Bruins unable to extend their lead. The combination of David Krejci and Nathan Horton had a chance to double the lead with just over three minutes left, but Horton was robbed by Martin Brodeur and Krejci couldn’t bury an opportunity either. The great shift did provide the team with some more energy to finish off the win and keep pace with Montreal in the standings, however. Andy Greene had a chance a little bit earlier for the Devils, but hit the side of a pretty open net after a nice curl-and-drag move in the slot.

Rask remained strong and picked up the 14th shutout of his career and Brodeur lost his eighth straight game against the Bruins. New Jersey fell to 1-9 in their last 10 road games as Brodeur alarmingly sits on 666 career wins for the Devils.

Tuukka Rask was huge for the Bruins and was rewarded with the game's first star.

Tuukka Rask was huge for the Bruins and was rewarded with the game’s first star.

“[There were] things to like tonight, but also things to dislike. When you give up 40 shots [there’s] things you want to correct,” said Julien. “Overall, I thought [the Jagr] line worked well together; he did a lot of great things – great examples. If a guy of that age can do it, I’m sure the rest of the team can do the same thing,” he added.

Jagr looked solid in his new role, but Tyler Seguin looked a little shaky in his. Filling in for Bergeron at center, Seguin won just 3-of-9 faceoffs on the night and looked visibly gassed at times. He described the transition as “weird,” but added that the defenders were helping him through the transition. “I appreciate Bergy so much more,” he said after the game.

The three stars of the game were Rask, Jagr and Brodeur, who made 25 saves on 26 shots.

The win sets up a Saturday night matchup with the Canadiens for the right to possess first place in the Northeast Division as the 24-8-4 Bruins take on the 24-8-5 Habs in Montreal.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

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