On the Road to Bruins (Jersey Boys; 01.14.21)

Robert Cole/ALOST


akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

NEWARK, N.J. — It took about 15 minutes of real time later than one would have expected given how the game played out, but Boston Bruins sniper Brad Marchand made sure his team capped off a dominating performance to start the season with two points in the standings.

Marchand scored the only goal in the shootout to go along with a power-play goal to open the scoring and an assist in the third period as the Bruins defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 at the Prudential Center in the season opener for both teams. The win extended Boston’s unbeaten streak against the Devils to six, posting a 5-0-1 record in that span.

Boston attempted as many shots on goal in the first period (16) as the Devils did in regulation (18), had as many scoring chances after two periods (22) as New Jersey had shots on goal in the entire game and possessed the puck in the Devils’ zone for almost 10 minutes. All that, and it took the last shot taken in the game, Marchand’s winner after the first five shots in the shootout were unsuccessful, to give last season’s Presidents’ Trophy winners their first win of the new campaign.

“It’s probably how the rest of the season is going to go. Every team is competitive now and any team can win on any night,” Marchand said. “We got a really tough division and it’s going to be a battle every single game.”

Lindy Ruff made his debut behind the bench as Devils head coach, and he saw his goalkeeper, Mackenzie Blackwood make one point-blank stop after another before the Bruins finally pushed one past him late in the first period on a power play. After Miles Wood was called for goaltender interference for crashing into Tuukka Rask, New Jersey had a chance to clear the puck once it won a defensive zone face-off. However, Kyle Palmieri’s pass was intercepted at the blue line, leading to Marchand’s goal down low after a centering pass from David Krejci at the 17::40 mark of the period.

Wood made up for his mistake midway through the third, taking a pass from Jack Hughes during a delayed penalty and firing past the blocker side of Rask to tie the game with 11:09 remaining in regulation.

New Jersey eventually went on the power play soon after Wood’s goal, but ended after Wood once again crashed into Rask in the crease and was called for a goalie interference penalty. Just before Wood’s penalty expired, Marchand found Nick Ritchie at the goal line for a tap-in at 13:12 to restore Boston’s lead.

“Those two calls on me were extremely selfish,” said Wood. “I’ll put the blame on me that that shouldn’t happen.”

Though his penalties put his team behind the 8-ball, Wood’s aggressiveness did spark the moribund Devils’ offense, missing key players such as Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt and Sami Vatanen, to life, and rookie Ty Smith’s shot from the point deflected off of Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy and past Rask just 34 seconds after the Bruins had regained the lead.

Rask had a light night with 20 saves, but made two huge saves on breakaways of Nikita Gusev and Hughes in the overtime session. After the save on Hughes, Travis Zajac appeared to have a wide open net to score past Rask, but sent his shot over the bar and glass behind the goal.

Blackwood made 35 saves, a number of which were top-drawer stops. With the lack of offensive firepower plus the sudden retirement of recently acquired Corey Crawford to add a veteran presence in the goalie corps, Blackwood may need to have many games like tonight to keep New Jersey in most games in the early part of the season.

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Tags : Boston BruinsNational Hockey LeagueNew Jersey DevilsNHL

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