BOSTON — Going into Monday night’s game against the Devils, the Bruins had given up the first goal of the game in five straight contests. Going into Monday’s game, the Bruins were 6-0 when scoring the first goal of the game.
In Monday’s game, Michael Ryder got the Bruins off to a hot start with his fifth goal of the season on a two-man advantage to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead at the 15:26 mark of the opening period.
The early start paid dividends, again, as the Bruins improved to 7-0 after scoring the first goal in their 3-0 victory in front of another sellout crowd of 17,565 at TD Garden on Military Appreciation Night.
“We knew that we were struggling at home and we wanted to come out and have a good effort tonight and I think we did that tonight,” Ryder said. “I thought that we had a good effort and we finally got another win at home.”
As mentioned in the morning skate, getting off to a quick start was what the Bruins wanted to establish in their game plan Monday night. That game plan was executed pretty well tonight, thanks in part to Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas making 28 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
“I personally approached it as a must-win situation and I think the team did too,” said Thomas. “We faced a team that ‘s been playing better but has struggled this year, and we needed to come out with the win so we can start building and getting back to the game we were playing when we were having success.”
“It’s been awhile since we had a really good start and getting the first goal was a part of our game plan tonight, no doubt,” noted Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “The longer you let the other team in the game, the better chance they have of winning, and that’s what teams that go on the road want to do. So it was important for us to grab that lead.
“It was nice for us to get that first goal. We seemed to be a better team with the lead, obviously, and seemed to build on it and protected it well.”
The Bruins carried that momentum in the early goings in the second and third periods and got a couple more goals past Devils netminder Martin Brodeur on very similar shots from Nathan Horton and Blake Wheeler.
Just 43 seconds into the second period, Horton carried the puck into the Bruins zone and let a wrist shot go from the point, and somehow got the puck past Brodeur to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
“It just went off a bad angle and it stayed low I guess,” Horton said while trying to describe his goal. “I was trying to raise it so maybe it faked [Brodeur] out a bit.”
Exactly 20 minutes after Horton’s goal, Mark Recchi, who had two assists on the night, found Wheeler at the point and the Bruins forward was able to snap his shot home for his third goal of the year just 43 seconds into the third period. The play was started by Jordan Caron’s ability to gather the puck along the boards down the New Jersey end of the ice and he was able to gather the puck and dish the puck to Recchi to start the transition.
The members of the military who were in attendance tonight at TD Garden helped motivate the Bruins on this special night. In return, the Bruins were able to salute them and their fans with the victory.
“The win I think was great,” Wheeler said. “We made it a point before the game to have a good game and have a good start because there are people who made a huge sacrifice for our country and they’re out here for us to entertain them. So, we wanted to play well and play hard for them.”