October 26, 2013

Penalty woes doom Bruins in brutal loss to Devils

By Jesse Connolly

Devils forward Steve Bernier (left) celebrates after Marek Zidlicky's goal with 1:08 left tied the game up at 3-3. (Getty Images)

Final: New Jersey 4, Boston 3

Recap: Facing a team that entered the game with a 1-5-4 record, it seemed as though the Bruins were primed for a blowout win. The first period didn't do anything to dispel that theory.

Boston got on the board 7:52 on when a shot from the point by Torey Krug beat Marty Brodeur just 11 seconds into a Bruins' power play. Precisely 1:27 later, Jarome Iginla second goal of the season (and in the last two games) came on a bad-angle shot that ricocheted off a defender, putting the B's ahead by a score of 2-0.

The Bruins let New Jersey back into it midway through the frame when Adam Henrique snapped a rebound home on a shot from the slot, but Milan Lucic came barreling down the wing with 56 seconds to go in the period and put Boston back up by two heading into the intermision with his sixth tally of the campaign.

By the midway point of the second period, the Bruins held about a 2-to-1 edge in shots, but from that juncture on, the Black and Gold took their foot off the gas. A Damien Brunner power-play goal made it 3-2 heading into the third. The Devils tied the game with 1:08 left in regulation on a 6-on-3, as two Bruins were in the box and Brodeur was off for the extra attacker.

Just 23 seconds later, Andy Greene ripped one past Tuukka Rask to give the Devils a 4-3 lead with a little over 44 seconds to go. That, as I often write in this space, was all she wrote.

Records: Boston 7-3-0, 14 points; New Jersey 2-5-4, eight points

Key Play of the Game: Things began to unravel for the B's with 3:15 to go, when Krug high-sticked Brunner and the corner. The whack drew blood, sending No. 47 to the box for four minutes. Just 1:26 into the PK, Patrice Bergeron was whistled for delay of game. That left New Jersey with as much as 1:49 of 5-on-3 time (not including an extra skater's presence). Of course, the Bruins allowed more than just the tying tally, but their poorly-timed penalties all but guaranteed the Devils were at least getting out of here with a point.

Connolly's Commendations: Boston's top line was in top form in the first period and the only forward trio that did a damn thing all game. Lucic (1g), Iginla (1g, 2a) and David Krejci (2a) combined for six points in the opening frame.

Connolly's Critiques: What a pathetic showing by the Bruins, as they attempted to coast by for the entire second half of the contest. They should've smelled blood and buried the visiting Devils who, in case you missed it earlier, had one win in their first 10 games this season. 

This has to be the worst night Boston's had on the PK under Claude Julien. The Devils, who came in 3-for-24 on the road on the man advantage, went 4-for-4, scoring all of their goals on the power play. Boston had yielded just three power-play tallies through nine games entering this matchup. Yikes.

There were countless invisible players throughout this out, including his linemates (Chris Kelly, Carl Soderberg), but this might've been rock bottom for Brad Marchand. No. 63 had no points, no shots, no hits, no blocked shots and was hardly noticed in 14:41 of ice time. He did lead Bruins forwards with 3:12 of shorthanded time, but that's nothing to be proud of, given how the PK fared. Marchand was on the ice for two of the Devils' power-play goals.

Notes: Boston had won seven straight against the Devils coming in. ... This, in all likelihood, was Marty Brodeur's last start in Boston. He's now 25-22-8-2 lifetime against the Bruins. ... Krejci extended his point streak to seven games (2g, 8a).

Final Thoughts: In an eerily reminiscent finish to that of Game 6 in last year's Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins simply choked in the closing minutes. Luckily it's just one regular season game, but hopefully walking with zero points should shake the B's enough to realize they can't always get away with jumping ahead early then mailing it in the rest of the way.

Next: The Bruins won't be back in action until Wednesday night, as they visit the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

 Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com