Game 46 Recap: Bruins wake from hibernation in 3rd, rout Devils
(headline submitted by @krwetzel)
The Devils seemed determined to forget about their 6-1 loss to the Stanley Cup Champions on Jauary 4th tonight. Through two periods in the rematch, it looked as if the Devils were set up to do so. Unfortunately for the Devils tonight, there is a third period in hockey, and that proved to be the Devils’ downfall tonight. It was a frustrating loss, to say the least, and mirrored the Devils’ 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers in December in many ways. The Devils got the 1-0 lead they needed, as they have in each of their three meetings with Boston this season, but their inability to push a second goal past Tim Thomas proved costly, as the Bruins had a tremendous third period in their comeback win. For the Bruins, it snaps what is a massive slump for them: just one win in their previous three weeks
It was a pretty slow start for both teams in this game. The Devils got the better of the scoring chances in the first period, but Tim Thomas, as he always does, made the big saves. The recently re-called Brad Mills also dominated Boston’s Gregory Campbell in a competitive fight in the period. With about 90 seconds remaining the opening period, Dainius Zubrus found Petr Sykora in front of the net, and he cashed in for his 12th of the season to give the Devils the lead. As mentioned, though, leading the Bruins 1-0 hasn’t worked so far this season. They lost 4-3 in Boston on November 15th and 6-1 at home after scoring first against the Bruins this season. Still, the late goal must have been a confidence boost for the Devils, who were coming off one of their stronger offensive games, a 5-1 win over Winnipeg.
The Devils had a solid first period, but they had an even better second period. They outshot the Bruins, 13-6 in the second period, including Steve Zalewski’s bid for his first NHL goal and he also made an incredible glove save on David Clarkson on a rebound of Kurtis Foster’s point shot. The two teams each hit goal posts in the second period, but both goaltenders kept the score the same after two periods as it was after one. The Devils continued to hold onto their one-goal lead heading into the third period, despite outshooting the Bruins, 23-12 through two periods. The Devils had blown some third period leads this season. They would have to avoid sitting back too much, however, against the Bruins’ potent lineup.
Just over a minute into the final period, Mark Fayne’s point shot found its way through traffic in front of the net and rang off the goal post. Less than two minutes later, the Bruins finally took advantage of the Devils not being able to score a second goal. Kurtis Foster accidentally screened his own goaltender as Andrew Ference’s slapshot from the left point beat Brodeur to tie the game at one. From there, the Bruins warmed to the task and simply took the game over. At 7:10 of the third period, Nathan Horton deflected David Krejci’s shot on the power play to give Boston a 2-1 lead. 35 seconds later, Gregory Campbell tapped a rebound home to make it 3-1 Bruins.
Peter DeBoer seemed reluctant to use his timeout after the second and third Bruins goals, but his team simply couldn’t find a way to beat Boston’s defense once the Bruins got going in the third period. After Campbell’s goal, the Devils became sloppy with their passing and couldn’t generate much offense, and when they did, Thomas made the necessary saves. By the time DeBoer finally did use his timeout with a minute remaining in the third period, it was too little, too late. Chris Kelly iced the game seconds later, and the Bruins rolled on to a 4-1 win in New Jersey. The Devils certainly battled more than they did in the last meeting between these two teams, but once Boston took the lead, as in the last game on January 4th, the Bruins absolutely dominated play. The Devils will need to bounce back against another Atlantic Division team that also lost 4-1 at home tonight: the Philadelphia Flyers, on Saturday afternoon.
Game notes: Patrik Elias assisted on Sykora’s goal, giving him 45 points in 45 games for the Devils this season. The Devils’ penalty kill unit, the NHL’s most successful such unit, has now allowed power plays goals in 7 of their last 11 games after not allowing a power play goal in four of the prior five games. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas has now beaten the Devils in six straight starts, after losing four of his previous five to the Devils. The Devils’ only win over the Bruins last season was a 3-2 win against Tuukka Rask on the final day of the regular season. Boston (mostly Zdeno Chara) found a way to shut down the red-hot Ilya Kovalchuk tonight. Kovy was limited to just one shot on goal, which is the first time he recorded less than three shots since he took two on December 17th in Montreal and the fewest he’s had since not taking a shot on November 23rd against Columbus. Adam Henrique returned to the Devils lineup after battling a minor groin strain and had a minus-two +/- rating with no shots on goal.
*It is also worth noting that the Devils learned today that Henrik Tallinder has a blood clot in his leg and will miss the next 6-8 weeks. Tallinder has averaged over 21 minutes of ice time per game, so the Devils will need to call someone up from Albany to play big minutes.