Teams typically are sluggish and slow on the second night of a back-to-back, but that certainly wasn’t the case for the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
After both teams suffered disappointing losses Saturday night, the clubs turned in an exciting, highlight-filled performance at Prudential Center. The Bruins, however, made just a few more plays than their opponent, earning a 5-3 win.
Only one Bruins goal came via 5-on-5 play, as the B’s netted two short-handed goals, a power-play tally and an empty-netter as well. Anton Khudobin posted a fine performance in net, stopping 35 of 38 shots.
With the win, the Bruins improve to 34-12-8, while the Devils fall to 27-20-8.
Here’s how it all went down:
There was a little bit of everything in a high-paced first period, which saw the Bruins lead 2-1 following the opening 20 minutes.
The Devils looked primed for the game’s first tally when Patrice Bergeron hooked Travis Zajac on a breakaway just over six minutes into the period. Zajac was awarded a penalty shot, but Khudobin stonewalled the Devils forward to keep the game scoreless.
The Bruins ultimately cracked the scoreboard first, but it required a hefty amount of puck luck. As Torey Krug wrapped around the Devils net, his pass back to the goalmouth was mishandled by Nico Hischier and Mirco Mueller into New Jersey’s net. Krug was awarded a shorthanded goal for his good fortune.
The Devils had an answer for Krug’s tally less than three minutes later, but the home team’s first goal was a product of pure skill rather than luck. After an errant pass in New Jersey’s zone slid back toward the other end, Miles Wood jumped all over the puck and beat Khudobin with a pretty backhanded deke.
It looked as though the game was headed to the first intermission with a 1-1 tie, but Tim Schaller’s late-period effort put Boston back on top. With the Devils on the man advantage following an Adam McQuaid roughing penalty, Boston’s penalty-killing unit turned defense into offense once again.
In the closing seconds of the first frame, Schaller provided a last-ditch, wrap-around attempt and scored Boston’s second shorthanded goal of the game by muscling the puck over the goal line.
Boston outscored New Jersey 2-1 in the first period, but it was the Devils who were on the right side of the advantage in the second.
New Jersey wasted little time evening the score, as Taylor Hall potted a gorgeous goal just 31 seconds into the second period to even things up at 2-2.
But less than two minutes later, Boston retook the lead. After a lucky, shorthanded goal opened the scoring, Krug’s second goal of the game was the exact opposite. With the Bruins on the power play, Bergeron won a faceoff in the Devils’ zone and got the puck to Ryan Spooner, who perfectly set up Krug for a slap shot from the point.
The Bruins maintained their lead for nine minutes following Krug’s go-ahead goal, but Hall proved to be too much for Boston’s defense to handle yet again. After beating David Krejci for a puck along the boards, Hall bolted toward the B’s net and dished a picture-perfect assist to Kyle Palmieri, who slipped the puck past Khudobin to knot the score at 3-3.
Entering Sunday, it had been 364 days since McQuaid found the back of the net. The veteran defenseman picked the perfect time to end his nearly year-long goal drought.
After just under 12 minutes of back-and-forth action, McQuaid smacked the puck back into the Devils’ zone from the blue line, and thanks to a few fortunate bounces, the puck wound up in the back of New Jersey’s net to give Boston a 4-3 lead.
The Devils made a strong push following McQuaid’s go-ahead score, but Bergeron put on the finishing touches with an empty-net goal with 39 seconds to go.
The Bruins return to action Tuesday night when they host the Calgary Flames. Puck drop from TD Garden is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports
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