While the weather outside was cold and dreary, the two teams that met inside the TD Garden tried to warm themselves up by lighting a fire under themselves and getting back to their winning ways. Both the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils had not been playing consistent hockey during the month of February, resulting in both teams losing ground in the standings. The Bruins, who have posted a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 games, have fallen nine points behind the New York Rangers for first place in the Eastern Conference, and now have to deal with the Ottawa Senators, who are nipping at their heels for first in the Northeast Division. Meanwhile, New Jersey, who is 5-4-1 in their last 10, has slipped from fourth to seventh, thanks to a three-game losing streak. Both teams looked to start March off right by getting a win and securing two precious points.
The matchup couldn’t have been better for the Bruins, as they were 3-0 against the Devils this season, outscoring them 14 to 5 in the three victories. Tim Thomas, who has been stellar this season against the Devils, with a 3-0 record, .946 save percentage, and a GAA of 1.67 got the nod in net for the Bruins. His counterpart guarding the net for New Jersey was the NHL’s all time leader in wins with 647 and the face of the Devils’ franchise, Martin Brodeur.
The first period got off to a great start for the Bruins as the newly created line of Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and David Krejci connected to start the scoring early for the Bruins. Krejci scored his 14th goal of the season just 1:13 into the first as he collected a pass from Seguin and buried a shot behind Brodeur. Less than a minute after the goal Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton squared off in a heavy weight bout with Eric Boulton. The scrap saw the pair of 22’s tangle right in the middle of the spoked B at center ice. Feeding off the momentum of the early goal and fight, Seguin almost made it 2-0 Boston, but was stoned by a quick right pad save by Brodeur. The momentum was clearly in Boston’s favor early in the first.
As if seeking revenge for being stopped point blank by Brodeur on the previous shift, Seguin received a pass from Lucic and snapped a shot into the back of the net on his next trip onto the ice, giving the Bruins a quick 2-0 lead. It was Seguin’s first goal in almost a month. Also registering his first assist of the season on the Seguin goal was Thomas. New Jersey took a timeout to try and slow things down and regain some composure. It seemed to work as they quickly went on the power play thanks to newly acquired Brian Rolston’s tripping call. The Bruins killed off the power play and almost made it 3-0 as Krejci had a shorthanded breakaway but was denied his second of the night by Brodeur.
The Bruins couldn’t cash in on the power play, courtesy of a Ryan Carter roughing call, to end the first, but went to the dressing room with a 2-0 lead, despite being outshot 10-9. The score easily could have been 5-0 if Brodeur hadn’t come up with some highlight reel saves.
The first five minutes of the second period saw the action go back and forth but really didn’t result in any scoring chances. New Jersey continued to out shoot the Bruins and Thomas continued to turn them away. New Jersey jumped on the board at the 6:27 mark of the second on a Zach Parise goal. Parise received the puck from Ilya Kovalchuk and scored on a quick snap shot. The momentum was starting to shift in New Jersey’s favor. The Bruins didn’t record their first shot of the second period until the 10:50 mark. The Bruins lack of offensive possession caught up to them, as Patrick Elias made it a brand new hockey game when he scored the equalizer at 14:03 of the second to tie the game up at two apiece. Devils’ right winger David Clarkson gave the Devils a 3-2 lead on a wrap around goal that squeaked past the post and Thomas’ pads. The Bruins would enter the locker room at the end of the second down by one goal.
The Bruins would have their work cut out for them in the third period. The Bruins had a dismal 6-15-2 record when trailing going into the third, while the Devils were 21-2-2 when leading after the second. It looked like history would repeat itself as the Devils came out flying in the first minute and a half, bombarding Thomas with shots, but luckily for the Bruins, the Devils were not able to convert on anything.
The Bruins would be the recipients of a lucky bounce that resulted in Krejci scoring his second goal of the night on a puck that pin balled around the New Jersey defensive zone and landed on Krejci’s stick. He was able to corral the puck and have it ricochet off of Brodeur’s blocker and into the net, tying the game at 3. There was some good back and forth action, with each team having a shortened power play, but nothing found the back of the net and the two teams would skate into overtime tied at three.
Overtime was pretty much picture perfect for the Bruins. After the first two minutes saw each team have a rush into the offensive zone, at the 2:59 mark of the overtime period, Krejci scored his third goal of the night to complete the hat trick and win the game and two precious points for the Bruins.
The Bruins swept the season series with the Devils for the first time since 1985. When asked if the Devils should be concerned about the sweep and the potential for a playoff matchup against the Bruins Brodeur replied, “It’s been a struggle to play against the Bruins this year, it’s hard to hide that,” but added, “Playoffs is playoffs, I think these guys, they know with the experience they got the last few years, especially last year, that it is a new ball game when it starts.”
The Bruins hope to continue their winning ways as they take on the New York Islanders on Saturday.