The Boston Bruins continued their hot streak under Bruce Cassidy on Saturday night, as they took down the New Jersey Devils 3-2 at home. The win improved Boston’s record to 8-2-0 under interim head coach Cassidy. The game also marked Drew Stafford’s first game in black and gold, and his all-around performance certainly won over the hearts of Bruins fans at TD Garden.
Bruins netminder Anton Khudobin, who struggled early on this season, continued his improved play, allowing just two goals (neither of which he should be faulted for) while earning his third win of the month. The game had a good tempo from the start and had its fair share of goals, hits, and faulty sirens.
Since Cassidy took over behind the bench, the Bruins have been all over opposing teams in the first frame of games. Saturday night’s matchup against the Devils was no exception. Despite their inability to score, the Bruins got out to a very strong start at TD Garden.
The B’s outshot the Devils 16-5 in the first period and had a few threatening chances on Cory Schneider. Bruins rookie Peter Cehlarik had the best opportunity of the period when his shot from the slot beat Schneider but was turned away by the post.
Both teams played a fast-paced style of hockey in the first, and it translated into a very aggressive period on both ends of the ice. This foreshadowed a matchup that was much more exciting than the first two these teams played this season.
The Bruins opened up the scoring in the second period by means of a Torey Krug power-play goal. After some chaos in front of the net, the puck found its way out to Krug at the top of the circle. Krug did not pass up on the opportunity and unleashed a rocket past Cory Schneider to break the ice.
Drew Stafford, who the Bruins acquired at the trade deadline, thought he tallied his first goal in black and gold a few minutes later when he buried a loose puck in the crease. However, the goal was overturned after a video review due to goaltender interference.
Drew Stafford’s goal gets called back for goalie interference pic.twitter.com/eJV123KJhH
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) March 5, 2017
In a fitting continuation of the storyline, Devils’ winger Devante Smith-Pelley took advantage of a turnover and tied the game with a slick breakaway goal. Things almost turned bad for the Bruins soon after, when Tim Schaller was boarded from behind by New Jersey’s Miles Wood. Bruins D-man Kevan Miller gave Wood a retaliatory shove and was called for interference, giving the Devils a power play. The Bruins were able to kill off the penalty, thus preventing the momentum from swinging too far in New Jersey’s favor.
Brandon Carlo put the Bruins back in front in the final two minutes of the second period. Patrice Bergeron worked the puck into the Devils’ zone, drawing two defenders, before handing it off to Carlo. The rookie defensemen banked one in off of a New Jersey skate for his sixth goal of the season.
The Devils wouldn’t go down without a fight in the third. New Jersey tied the game again 5:51 into the period when Taylor Hall fed Kyle Palmieri on an odd-man rush. The game didn’t stay tied for too long, as Ryan Spooner regained the lead for the Bruins a few minutes later.
After some sustained possession in the offensive zone, Frank Vatrano forced a turnover behind the net. As Vatrano worked the puck out to Stafford in front, Spooner slipped behind the Devils defense. Stafford hit Spooner with a perfect pass on the back door, and Spooner hit the empty net to put the Bruins up 3-2.
Boston’s 3-2 lead would hold up for the remainder of the game, but not without some strange interruptions midway through the period. The TD Garden siren sounded twice while play was going on, both times while the Devils had control of the puck.
All in all, the Bruins played a full 60 minutes in what turned out to be a successful bounce-back game following Thursday night’s tough loss to the New York Rangers. New Bruin Stafford registered an assist and seven shots in his debut at the Garden, and the Bruins earned their third straight win with a backup goaltender in net.
BOS – Torey Krug (6) (PP) assisted by David Pastrnak (28) and Patrice Bergeron (25)
NJD – Devante Smith-Pelley (4) assisted by Steven Santini (5) and Kyle Palmieri (22)
BOS – Brandon Carlo (6) assisted by Patrice Bergeron (26) and David Backes (18)
Kyle Palmieri (20) assisted by Taylor Hall (28)
Ryan Spooner (11) assisted by Drew Stafford (10) and Frank Vatrano (7)
THW THREE STARS
First: Patrice Bergeron (2 assists)
Second: Kyle Palmieri (goal and assist)
Third: Drew Stafford (assist, 7 SOG)
Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators
Canadian Tire Centre – March 6 at 7:30 p.m. E.S.T.
Broadcast Channels: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
2016-17 Season Series: Senators Lead 1-0
Columbus Blue Jackets at New Jersey Devils
Prudential Center – March 5 at 5:00p.m. E.S.T.
Broadcast Channels – MSG, FSOH
2016-17 Season Series: Devils Lead 1-0
Cam is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Maryland. He’s the Boston Bruins Beat Writer at The Hockey Writers, and is an avid college hockey fan. Find him on Twitter @CamHasbrouck!