Boston Bruins 1 (40-29-8, 88 pts)
New Jersey Devils 2 (37-32-8, 82 pts)
Devils Defeat Bruins to Keep Playoff Hopes Alive
The New Jersey Devils gained a crucial victory against the Boston Bruins at the Prudential Center Tuesday night in order to keep their playoff chances alive.
The Devils had only 15 shots on goal against Boston goalie Tukka Rask, but as the saying goes, “less is more,” as the Devils scored two power play goals. Center Travis Zajac (14) scored the first goal of the game 16:59 into the first period, with assists from center Reid Boucher (11)and defenseman David Warsofsky (1). Boston center Brad Marchand would score a breakaway goal in the first period, sneaking past defensemen Adam Larsson and Andy Greene to tie the game. That goal was Marchand’s 35th of the season with assists from defenseman Zdeno Chara (26) and right winger Lee Stempniak (31). Reid Boucher (8) would score the Devils second and decisive goal 4:05 into the third period, with assists from Zajac (28) and center Kyle Palmieri (25).
“For us, it was a good win,” said Zajac. “It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t our best hockey, but you still have to win these types of games throughout the year.”
The crowd of 15,486 erupted after Boucher’s third period goal. Boston would remain in the game however, shooting at will on goal. After pulling Rask from the net to gain the extra man advantage with three minutes remaining in the game, it seemed, based on the amount of shots on goal in the game, that Boston would be able to get the tying goal. However, New Jersey would stop the onslaught. Marchand would take a bad slashing penalty with 1:11 remaining in the game, thus eliminating the man advantage. New Jersey would maintain the puck in Boston’s zone to kill the clock and end the game.
“You want to be able to find ways to win game,” said Coach John Hynes. “…you have to find enough, I think, resiliency and grit to find a way to win a game.”
A huge factor in tonight’s win was that of the play of Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid, who made 39 saves and allowed only one goal on 40 shots.
“I was just focused on one shot at a time,” said Kinkaid. “Ever since, you know, even in practice, focus on one shot at a time. That’s where you can really get a lot of shots and focus on not letting up”.
The Devils penalty kill unit was also a factor in tonight’s win, going a perfect 3 for 3 on the kill. On the other hand penalties would come back to haunt the Bruins, earning 12 total penalty minutes on six penalties. The Devils scored twice on five power play opportunities (40%).
“It was great,” said Boucher. “It was a big focus on tonight. Getting the P.K.’s and we were able to capitalize on the power plays.”
Rookie left winger Blake Pietila led the team in shots on goal with four.
Defenseman Andy Greene lead the team in time on ice with 24:38, followed by defenseman Adam Larsson with 23:42, and Palmieri with 20:43.
It was an overall physical, hard hitting game from both teams. New Jersey had a total of 23 hits, four coming from right winger Bobby Farnham. Boston had a total of 14 hits, three coming from defenseman from Kevan Miller.
“He had that competitive balance, he played on edge, he was factor…,” said Coach Hynes of Farnham. “He didn’t go over the line, I think that’s important for him when he gets into these types of games and competitive situations.”
The Devils now find themselves five points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining in the season. The Flyers, however have seven games remaining in their regular season, giving them a two game advantage. The Devils will have to win out the season, with their next game coming Thursday night on the road against the Florida Panthers (42-25-9, 93 pts). The Panthers are in a deadlock for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning (44-27-5, 93 pts).