There were some strange things that took place during the Boston Bruins game against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night. By far, the strangest had to be the penalty clock adding seconds to two penalties on the Devils instead of counting them down and then while the referees and off ice officials were getting that settled the scoreboard all of a sudden showed the Florida Panthers logo instead of the Devils. Couple that with the fact that Miles Wood was called for a cross-checking and a simultaneous interference call for a double-minor and it’s hard not to be scratching your head and wondering if Mars was in retrograde.
The Devils came into Boston after having been shutout in Detroit on Monday night. It shouldn’t have been surprising that they were going to throw everything they had at the Bruins from the first puck drop. In fact the shots on goal at the end of the first were 20-9 in favor of the Devils, though somehow they had been unable to find the back of the twine.
Certainly, Tuukka Rask was a factor in the Devils not getting on the scoreboard in the opening twenty minutes, but even he was uncharacteristic in net. Rask is known for his rebound control, and it wasn’t there Tuesday night. He’s usually a goaltender who is quiet and settled in his crease, but in addition to letting up some juicy rebounds he was quite active between the pipes. Many of the rebounds were batted out of the way by his fellow teammates. Of course, it was those same teammates that were struggling to keep the Devils from firing all those pucks on Rask in the first place.
“They were more urgent than us, more urgency, wanted to play behind us, get on us, create some anxiety in the forecheck, and I think they did a good job with that. I don’t think we executed as well as we needed to early on to sort of suppress that,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game. “Eventually we found it. Part of that was in our D not getting back there quick enough; part of it is the forwards not getting some bumps so their D can’t get back there, and winning the wall battles. I think when we started winning the wall battles, more pucks, we got a little cleaner.”
Asked after the game about their tough start, David Pastrnak, who notched another point bringing him to 3-3-6 in the last four games, wanted to concentrate on the win.
“Well, we won right?” he countered.
And to be honest his enthusiasm for the game and for a win is usually infectious, but the Bruins didn’t do themselves any favors offering a motivated team so many shots on Rask in the first period.
“Yeah, we didn’t have a great start. We didn’t have a great game,” Brad Marchand shared. “They publicly had an open, or a closed-door meeting last night, so we knew they were going to come out hard and play a good game and they did; you’ve got to give them credit. But, luckily we found a way to win and that’s all that matters.”
While the first period saw no scoring, the second period saw it all. The Devils got on the board first when Manchester by the Sea native Wood deflected a puck past Rask at 2:05. The Bruins tied things up five minutes later as Riley Nash somehow squeeked the puck past Cory Schneider after the Bruins put together a solid, blue-collar, effort along the boards to gain the puck in the first place. Two minutes later the Devils were back on top off the stick of Damon Severson, who put away his own rebound.
Almost four minutes later while, Wood was sitting for the odd double minor, and his teammate Marcus Johansson had joined him on a tripping penalty, Patrice Bergeron tied things up while the Bruins were on an extended 5-on-3 situation. As the play was stopped for the goal, the clock issues were examined—for approximately 13 minutes—before the proper remaining times were posted for Wood and Johansson, and the Bruins were back to the 5-on-3.
Bergeron’s goal was his 20th on the season. He joined his linemates Marchand and Pastrnak as 20+ goal scorers. And the Bruins are the first team this season to have three 20+ goal scorers. The fact that they are linemates, makes them formidable against all the teams in the league.
Some felt that had Wood only been given a two-minute penalty that perhaps the Bruins wouldn’t have scored. However, Bergeron’s goal took place before the first two-minute penalty on Wood had expired. And after the clock issues, and a possible loss of momentum for the Bruins, the Devils were able to make the kill on the remaining time.
“[The ref] came back to the bench and he just said sorry that they screwed up,” Wood offered. “But that’s what it was. [It should have been] just one penalty.”
At that point the game was tied, and it looked like it would remain that way going into the second intermission. However, Pastrnak and Marchand found themselves on an odd-man rush and Marchand was able to freeze Schneider and put the puck in the goal with 32 seconds left in the second period. That would turn out to be the game-winning goal.
In addition to the odd things that were taking place, a number of the New Jersey Devils ended up taking trips down their tunnel after hits in which they were slow to get up. The hits, with one exception, looked like typical plays, but body parts were clearly being tweaked and at one point the Devils were playing with just four defensemen. The third period saw the Devils back-up goaltender, Ken Appleby, between the pipes, after Schneider apparently suffered a lower-body injury on Marchand’s goal. Even one of the linesmen got knocked over by Pastrnak and the Bruins’ trainer rushed out to attend to him. Fortunately, he was soon back on his feet.
Toward the end of the game, Marchand was skating fast and trying to get between Johannson and Appleby, when Johannson’s stick may have tripped up Marchand. No call was made, but it was the contact of Marchand’s elbow to Johansson’s head as Marchand was falling that the league has already announced they are taking a closer look at. Many are waiting to hear if Marchand will receive supplementary discipline, though there was no call on that aspect of the interaction either.
In the end the Bruins garnered the two points and added a 17th game to their streak of not losing in regulation. They are now 13-0-4. The last time they accomplished such a streak was in 1983, before some of their current players were even born.
They will practice Wednesday morning and then catch a plane to Ottawa, where they will take on the Senators on Thursday night. The Bruins need to work on fixing some of the issues they had Tuesday night. Their goaltenders can only bail them out for so long.