The first period and game got off to a slow start for the Bruins. It felt like the fastest and slowest period at the same time as the new line combinations had a hard time adjusting and defense couldn’t get the puck out of the zone. There was what, one stoppage of play in the first ten minutes, but a lack of anything getting started by both sides.
Although there were problems with the rollout of the top lines, Trent Frederic, Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle had the best chemistry and opportunities of the period. Frederic found Smith’s rebounds and they had a good sequence of chances in the first half of the period. They also had a nice play started by a rush from Charlie McAvoy.
The defense had their own woes in the first and the absence of Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril was apparent. Defensive zone coverage had its holes and the Devils found shooting lanes and won battles behind the net.
Shots were 7-7 in the first period and the game was scoreless heading into the locker rooms.
The Devils came out attacking in the second period and got on the board early.
The Devils got on the board first at 1:34 in the second period. Jack Hughes dropped a pass to Kyle Palmieri who at the hash marks beat Jaroslav Halak’s glove, making the score 1-0.
Then came a huge break for the Bruins. While on four-on-four play, P.K. Subban was assessed a four-minute penalty for high-sticking and the Bruins would have three minutes of the man-advantage. But alas, nope.
The Devils then extended their lead with a shorthanded goal. Jasper Brett fed Palmieri the puck up ice for a breakaway and a five-hole goal on Halak, making the score 2-0.
Don’t worry about what happened after this. Just enjoy the moment.— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) February 19, 2021
: Severson pic.twitter.com/9r21AsaYnw
Jake DeBrusk netted his first goal of the season at 12:36 in the second period to bring the Bruins within one score. On the power play, DeBrusk intercepted an attempt by Palmieri to clear the puck and picked the top shelf over Mackenzie Blackwood’s stick, making the score 2-1.
But the Devils answered back and regained their two-goal cushion at 15:37 in the second period. On four-on-four play, skating into the slot, Pavel Zacha passed to Andreas Johnsson in the right face-off circle who then returned a pass to Zacha in the left circle where he put a wrist shot past the glove of Halak, making the score 3-1.
Big Z— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) February 19, 2021
: Butcher pic.twitter.com/Iy88PFfrbK
Lines were shuffled again in the second, as David Krejci left the game with a lower-body injury and the team continued to have a hard time connecting. The Bruins overpassed in the period and the most obvious was Pastrnak giving away an opportunity in the slot and passing to Sean Kuraly. WHY.
The Bruins got back to playing their style and pace of hockey in the third period, but it was too little too late. Blackwood got in their way and came up huge for the Devils.
The Bruins made it interesting at the end by capitalizing on a late power play and pulling Halak for a 6-on-4. Pastrnak sent a blast through traffic to put the puck past Blackwood’s right shoulder, making the score 3-2. Originally the goal was credited to McAvoy because it looked like he got part of his stick on it and redirected the puck. But official scoring gave the goal to Pastrnak.
With the net still empty and just over a minute left, the Bruins had a few additional chances to send the game to overtime. Within the final seconds, Pastrnak had the best shot to tie the game, but the team couldn’t get it past Blackwood and dropped their second regulation game in a row.
Their next game is on Lake Tahoe as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 2pm on Sunday. We’ll see you then.