BOSTON -- It was a couple of costly penalties that hurt the Bruins with the game on the line at the end of the third period, and led to the New Jersey Devils scoring two goals in 23 seconds to author a stunning 4-3 win over the Bruins at TD Garden.
It was Boston’s first loss after blowing a two goal lead since last April 27 when they squandered a game in overtime against the Washington Capitals.
Torey Krug caught Damien Brunner in the mouth with his stick while the two players were heading into the corner for a 50/50 puck. Krug came out of the corner with the puck on his stick, and Brunner slumped down to the ice with blood trickling from his mouth onto the ice.
“I was just going into battle with [Brunner] and stuck him in the face,” said Krug, who had the look of somebody wearing the loss on his shoulders after the game was over. “I didn’t mean to.
“You can never take anything for granted in this league. We were on the bad side of it this time. We had the lead in our own building in the third period, and we have got to close out [those] games. We have got to do a better job.”
That led to a four minute power play for New Jersey trailing by a 3-2 score, and it became a two-man advantage for the final 1:49 when Patrice Bergeron winged a puck over the boards into the crowd. It was the second such delay of game penalty for the Bruins on the night, and the Devils made Boston pay by scoring on each of those cheapie power plays.
That led to a 5-on-3 advantage for the Devils that quickly became a rare 6-on-3 power play when they pulled Brodeur in favor of another skater.
“It’s one of those plays that you want to get it all the way down [the ice], and I thought I was closer to the wall. It’s one of those plays that I make basically every time, but I went a little too hard on that one, and a little too high. I take full responsibility of that play,” said Bergeron. “It is part of the game, and I know that, so I’ve got to make that play. It’s one of those things that you can’t really be mad about the rule when it happens to you.
“You’ve just got to do your job, and it does happen. The same thing happens for us, [and if we’re] getting the five-on-three, we’re happy. So you’ve got to realize that you’ve got to do your job, and that’s it.”
The rest was predictable for both sides. Marek Zidlicky smoked a hard shot from the high point through traffic to tie the game up with 1:08 remaining in the game, and then 23 seconds later a fortunate bounce onto Andy Greene’s stick served up the game-winner for New Jersey. While it’s clear the B’s penalty kill unit was responsible for some of the defeat after allowing four power play goals, the decision-making and execution was anything but clean at the end of the game.
“[They were] costly penalties. Both pucks over the glass ended up being a goal against, and those are tough penalties to take…but rules are rules. At the same time, the high stick, it is a high stick,” said Claude Julien. “You have to be in control of your stick, so it was deemed a four minute, which I thought was the right call. So unfortunately they scored on their opportunities that they had.”
And the Black and Gold were more than happy to serve up some opportunities for the Devils to finally wrest it away from the Bruins in the mistake-filled closing seconds of the third period.