Bruins Hold On Against Devils, Climb Back Into First Place
It looked in the first like it would be an easy win for the Bruins as they jumped out to a strong 3-0 lead. The Devils made things much too interesting, however, as they scored two in the second and two in the third. It ended up being a late goal from Tyler Seguin that was the difference in the game as Boston held on for the 5-4 victory and overtook the Canadiens for the top spot in the Northeast Division and second spot in the Eastern Conference.
Anton Khudobin made just enough saves (24 to be exact) in his first career start against the Devils. Nursing a 5-3 lead late in the game, Matt D’Agostini scored just his second of the season to cut the lead to one with 37.0 seconds left. Just after the Bruins had killed off a Seguin penalty and after No. 19 had a chance at an open net, New Jersey capitalized with Martin Brodeur on the bench, but that is as close as they would get as they lost their eighth straight game.
“We really took our foot off the gas and they came back,” said Seguin after the game. “[They] gained momentum and almost stole one.”
The Bruins used three first-period goals on seven New Jersey first-period giveaways to jump out on top in a period when they were short handed for 6:33 of the first 9:02. Four penalties against the Black and Gold, including two five-on-three situations, didn’t matter as Boston capitalized with two shorties in the period from Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell.
Just 1:10 into the game, Campbell, playing on his new line, got the Bruins on the board as he jammed in a backhanded rebound after a Brodeur save on Jaromir Jagr. With the puck bouncing all around in the New Jersey end, Jagr was able to control it with three Devils around him and get the shot off. Crashing the net, Campbell picked up his third goal of the year and first in 22 games with the only assist going to Jagr.
Then, with Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara in the box for tripping and delay of game, respectively, and Patrice Bergeron obviously not available, the Bruins killed off a five-on-three situation for 1:27 just over three minutes into the game. Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly were huge for the special teams as each came up with a big block and the team got some help from the left post. New Jersey was in the Boston zone for the entire span of the five-on-three, but couldn’t take advantage of the Bruins’ two best defenders sitting in the box.
On the Bruins’ next two penalties, they didn’t allow any goals and they even added two of their own. With Dennis Seidenberg in the box for a hit to the head, Paille knocked home his own rebound after Rich Peverley set him up on a short-handed two-on-one. Brodeur made the initial save, but couldn’t get the second bid as Paille came up with his eighth of the year and second short-handed goal. Peverley started the two-on-one as he poked a too-soft pass along the offensive blue line from Steve Sullivan and raced up ice with Paille.
A couple minutes later, New Jersey was back on the power play and the puck was back in the back of their net. The Devils turned the puck over in Boston zone as Peverley applied pressure to Travis Zajac and got the puck out. After dumping it into the New Jersey zone, Peverley worked it back to Ference at the point, who fired it past Brodeur for what appeared to be his second goal in as many games. The puck hit something in front as Campbell was providing the screen. During the first intermission the official scorer determined it had hit him and Soup was served for the second time in the period.
The last time the Bruins had scored two short-handed goals in the same game was Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals against the Canucks when they won, 8-1.
The last time the Devils allowed two short-handed goals in one period was in 1993-94 – Brodeur’s rookie year.
Chara added his seventh of the year 3:06 into the second as he poked one home on the power play after Brodeur made the initial save and the puck was sitting in the crease. Jagr and David Krejci got the assists as No. 68 fed it in from the side after some good movement up top. The Devils would come back, however, with the next two late in the period as Patrik Elias tipped one in to make it 4-1 and Zajac converted on a turnover that resulted in a breakaway and a short-handed goal of his own to make it 4-2 with 1:48 to play. Anton Volchenkov was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for elbowing Brad Marchand in the head and will likely face a suspension. Marchand would not return to the game and the Bruins didn’t get one shot on net during the five-minute power play.
There were six more penalties in the period and only 10 total shots on goal. Chris Kelly prevented a power-play goal with a strong stick and both goaltenders felt the benefits of the iron around the nets.
Five and a half minutes into the third, however, the Devils climbed back to within one as Andy Greene took advantage of a lot of space and wristed it by Khudobin. Desperately trying to hold the lead and needing the next goal, Boston got it thanks to the hustle and effort from Paille. Coming right off the bench, he raced from the right side to the left and won the puck behind the net before the lagging New Jersey defenders. In one motion, he fed a pass in front where Seguin one-touched it in to give the Bruins a bit of some much-needed breathing room.
That would hold up as the game-winner as D’Agostino’s goal with 37.0 seconds left made it 5-4, Boston. They were able to hang on the rest of the way, thankfully. The Bruins improved to 26-9-4 with the big win in the first of a back-to-back as the hot Islanders were comfortably watching the B’s exhaust themselves.
Boston improved to 12-5-2 on the year when leading after two periods compared to 32-0-0 a year ago. They have also won their last 14 games in which Campbell has scored a goal.
The three stars of the game were Campbell, Jagr and Zajac.
The B’s are back at it tonight as they host the Islanders (20-16-4) at TD Garden.
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