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Recap: The Bruins play their worst game in a month but still beat the Devils, 3-2

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Slow start, weird middle, chippy finish — just like they drew it up!

New Jersey Devils v Boston Bruins

When everything is going your way, things just seem to work out in the end.

That’s the only way to explain tonight’s result, really: a game that saw the Bruins nearly get shot out of the building in the first but saw the score tilted in their favor when time ran out in the third, as the Bruins emerged with a 3-2 win to run their point streak to 17 consecutive games (13-0-4).

Brad Marchand’s beautiful deke on a 2-on-1 late in the second stood up as the game-winner, capping a three-goal period by giving the Bruins a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Tuukka Rask was the Bruins’ standout in this one, the sole reason they were even in the game when the second period started.

The Devils, looking like a team desperate to snap its recent skid, came out flying, firing 20 (yes, 20) shots on Rask in the first period alone.

Rask was up to the task, controlling his rebounds and making a few impressive saves through traffic.

“He was awesome,” said Pastrnak of Rask. “We didn’t have a good start and Tuukka was unbelievable in the first period for us. It could have easily been 3-0 for them, but he made some great saves.”

The Devils ended up getting on board with their first shot of the second period, as Miles Wood tipped a Damon Severson shot past Rask at the 2:05 mark.

What looked like it might be a back-breaker, given how soundly the Devils outplayed them in the first, turned out to be a mere speed bump for the Bruins thanks to a little of that point-streak luck.

“We were just trying to have a solid forecheck,” said Nash of his goal. “Finally won a puck...throw it on goal and it went off here, there, everywhere and in.”

The Devils would respond with a 2-on-1 goal by Damon Severson just two minutes later, and then things got weird.

Matt Grzelcyk was given a minor for high sticking Miles Wood; 90 seconds later, Wood was called for two penalties in one run of play (a rarity), giving the Bruins 30 seconds of 4v4 time before a 3:30 power play.

However, Marcus Johansson tripped Brandon Carlo 33 seconds after the Wood penalty, giving the Bruins an extended 5v3 power play.

Patrice Bergeron was ready:

After the goal, there was a delay of nearly 15 minutes as the officials tried to sort out the penalty clocks. During the penalties, the timers had been ticking up, not down; the result was a scoreboard that somehow showed the penalties having more time left than they did when play started.

Weird.

“I think we all knew what the penalty situations, including the officials,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We just couldn’t get it going is my understanding. Maybe they couldn’t get it up on the clock. It seemed to take an awfully long time to resolve.”

The Bruins failed to score on the remainder of the power play and things remained scoreless until Brad Marchand toasted Cory Schneider in the final seconds of the period:

The Bruins would essentially hold on in the third, with Rask making a number of big stops. He stopped Severson twice on the same breakaway, and had some great saves through traffic on a late New Jersey power play.

In the end, the Bruins did enough to win in a game they probably deserved to lose.

Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes.

Game notes

  • Brad Marchand is probably going to get suspended. When I first saw the replay at full speed, I thought Marchand’s stick came up and clipped Marcus Johansson as he was falling down. A second look revealed that it was, in fact, an elbow. Marchand can claim accident all he wants, but his arm seemed to fly up a little oddly. Was he trying to elbow Johansson in the head? Probably not. Maybe he was trying to get him in the shoulder or back. But he got the head — and given his reputation and record, it’ll probably cost him.
  • Speaking of Marchand, he had a chance to score on the empty net in the last seconds of the game. He actually did score, but the clock hit 0 as the puck went in. There was no review, and no goal was awarded. Imagine if he finishes the year at 39 goals? WHAT IF, BRAD? WHAT IF????
  • Tuukka Rask’s detractors often cite his lack of “stealing games” as a knock against him. If he didn’t steal this game, he sure as hell stole the first period. Rask has a point in 17 consecutive starts. Maybe he shouldn’t be traded after all, eh?
  • The Devils are an interesting team. They were without their best player tonight in Taylor Hall, but still overwhelmed the Bruins. They have a lot of guys who won’t make headlines but still cause chaos (in a good way, if you’re a Devils fan) — guys like Wood, Jesper Bratt and Brian Boyle. John Hynes has done a hell of a job with this team this year.
  • Have to feel bad for Marblehead native Cory Schneider. He missed time recently with an illness, came back last night, lost 3-0 to Detroit, and then appeared to tweak something on Bergeron’s goal. Left out there, he then got put in the Marchand deke cycle, and didn’t return to the bench for the start of the third. He’s an elite goalie, so here’s to hoping it’s a minor injury.
  • It was only one game, but it’s a bit concerning to see how chaotic the Bruins’ defense looked without Charlie McAvoy. It could have just been the Devils’ pressure, but the team had a hard time getting clean breakouts and couldn’t seem to do much in front of their own net in the first. They locked it up a bit in the second and third, so maybe it was just guys playing with new partners.
  • A neat note from the Bruins’ PR team: the Bruins became the first team in the NHL this season to have three 20-goal scorers (Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak). Even more neat: they’re all on the same line. Best line in the NHL? Hard to argue against it.

One good thing

Any time a dog is named Fan of the Game, you know it’s been a good game.

One bad thing

I hesitate to even bring this up, but: the Devils sure did a lot of tossing-heads-back tonight. Nico Hischier got it started, Miles Wood continued it. Every team is going to do what it can to get calls, but things are going to start going the other way if refs around the league start to catch on.

The Bruins are back in action Thursday in Ottawa.