The Boston Bruins ended their two-game losing streak with a convincing 4-1 win on the road against the New Jersey Devils Friday, getting goals from Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner, Jimmy Hayes, Colin Miller. For Boston, it was the 3,000th win in franchise history- second all-time in the NHL behind the Montreal Canadiens (3,283).
The Devils got another valiant effort in net from Massachusetts sons (sins?) Cory Schneider (Marblehead) with xx saves and a second period goal from North Andover’s Bobby Farnham, but once again- the lack of offense sank the Devils,as his sixth tally was all she wrote. Jonas Gustavsson got the start for the visitors and made 19 saves for the victory as the B’s started out their five-game road trip on a positive note.
Vatrano scored early, converting a rebound from C. Miller that Schneider kicked out in front of the net. The Boston rookie swooped in and gathered the puck, lifting it over Schneider’s right pad for his sixth goal of the year.
Spooner added to the lead in the second period, making a pair of his patented 10-2 skating moves after Zach Trotman sealed off the play along the right boards to prevent a Devils defender from getting to the puck and clearing. With Spooner moving across the blue line and his hips open, he was able to wrist a shot on net. Matt Beleskey screened Schneider, allowing the puck to slip past him inside the post for what would be the eventual game-winner.
Hayes got a late-period power play goal when he tipped Zdeno Chara’s point shot into the net for his ninth goal of the year.
C. Miller closed out the scoring in the third period when he blistered a smoking slap shot through Schneider’s five-hole. Dennis Seidenberg made a perfect pass into the wheelhouse that allowed Chiller to get all of it, and it looked every bit like the power drive that won Miller the hardest shot competition at the 2015 AHL All-Star Game.
For the B’s it was a strong performance overall- they were burned just once off the rush when Chara got caught up the ice and C. Miller allowed too much of a gap for Farnham. It was a shot Gustavsson should have had, but in Miller’s case, he was too passive on the play- allowing the former Brown standout nothing but time and space to make the play. Miller more than made up for it with his 1-1-2 night- scoring his third goal of the season in the final frame.
Gustavsson was effective for the most part, but was nearly caught out of the crease several times, causing NESN analysts Billy Jaffe and Gord Kluzak to dedicate a 1st intermission segment to “hugging the post” to him.
The game also marked David Pastrnak’s return to the NHL for the first time since he was lost to a fractured foot just before Halloween. Just back from the World Jr. Championship, Pastrnak played with energy and made some skill plays around the net, but was clearly still feeling his way back into game shape. He reportedly had a finger injury at the WJC, but his stick handling did not appear to be hampered much in this one.
The Boston defense and penalty killing played well for the most part. Trotman was back into the Boston lineup after Adam McQuaid was taken out on a hit from behind by Washington Capital Zach Sill on Tuesday. Sill was suspended two games by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for the play, and with McQuaid on the IR, Trotman will have a chance to skate with Chara going forward. Trotman is most effective when he keeps things simple and the play in front of him. He even drew a late penalty when he jumped in from the blue line and beat Dmitri Kalinin to a loose puck, getting pulled down from behind for his efforts.
Ryan Spooner continues to play well while filling in for the injured David Krejci. He stretched his points streak to four games with a goal and five assists over that span. He’s also playing more effectively in all zones and earning the coaching staff’s trust with bigger minutes and expanded situations. He’s on pace for around 20 goals and 60 points this year if he can keep finding ways to contribute offensively when Krejci returns to reclaim his top-two line role. 59 points would have led the B’s in scoring last season, so give the soon-to-be 24-YO credit for his commitment to making things work this season when his 5-on-5 play was wanting and points were harder to come by earlier in the season.
With points at a premium for Boston, they needed to have a game like this one and got it. The Devils were without top scorer Mike Cammalleri and had a depleted roster overall, but there’s no crying in hockey- Boston took New Jersey to the woodshed, allowing some of the lower-line players to get some extended looks as the B’s cruised late.
They’ll take on their division rival Ottawa Senators tomorrow night in Kanata.