Devils look to stop losing streak at two games against depleted Bruins roster.
The New Jersey Devils have found themselves on another losing streak after playing back-to-back games against one of the best teams in the league, the Washington Capitals.
They’d be taking on another tough opponent on Sunday in the Boston Bruins, but this would be a great opportunity for the Devils to put an end to their losing streak.
The Bruins are one of the latest team to have serious COVID-19 related issues: two of their games were postponed and three of their important players, including Brad Marchand, are on the protocol list.
The Bruins have also had some problems staying healthy: Ondrej Kase and Tuukka Rask among others are out with injuries.
Coupled with the fact that the Devils have done a pretty decent job against the Bruins this season (winning three of four), New Jersey is in a good position to steal a win here.
Jesper Bratt and Kyle Palmieri would remain on the same line, but play on the wings of Jack Hughes as opposed to Pavel Zacha. Zacha would see Miles Wood on his left and Nick Merkley, who’d come back into the lineup after a day off, on his right.
Mikhail Maltsev would sit to make room for Merkley. Andreas Johnsson would move to the left and Jesper Boqvist to the right with Michael McLeod in the middle. MacKenzie Blackwood would be back in net after a game off.
1st period: Dominant
The Devils looked solid in the first period and should have no problem coming away with a win if they continue to play like this. They outshot the Bruins 12-9, even though they were shorthanded for two minutes.
Speaking of, the Devils have had the worst penalty kill in the league for most of the season, but it’s been seventh in the NHL in the month of March.
While the Devils have been struggling to come up with wins, an improvement on the penalty kill is something to celebrate.
Ty Smith continues to show off his ability on both ends of the ice, taking a confident shot that Palmieri deflected in for the first goal of the game. Palmieri’s scoring touch appears to have returned.
2nd period: Another would’ve been ideal
The Devils weren’t as good in the second as they were in the first, but they did draw two penalties and staved off the Bruins, who looked slightly better.
However, the Devils should’ve taken advantage of their two power plays and the fact that Patrice Bergeron went to the locker room and was unavailable for much of the period.
It’s not too late. They’ll have a chance to add to their lead in the third, but will have to be careful. They’d open the period shorthanded and would have to refrain from making any defensive mistakes.
Blackwood, who had been great in net, would have to be even better in the third.
3rd period: WOW.
The third period of the game was filled with craziness.
The Devils began the third on the penalty kill and did well there, but were short-handed once again not long after when Janne Kuokkanen was booked with a double-minor high-sticking call.
New Jersey’s penalty killing really has gotten better: they made it out of these four minutes unscathed. The Devils did get sloppier as the game progressed, but their penalty killers have been up to the task.
The final few minutes were unbelievable. The Bruins got the puck into the net, but the goal was overturned after it was determined that Blackwood was interfered with. Not long after, it appeared as though the Bruins had scored again.
However, it turned out that Blackwood had somehow prevented the puck from completely crossing the line with one of the best saves of the season.
Fans would’ve felt a lot better if the Devils had scored more than one goal, but this was an impressive and admirable effort by a team that hasn’t been spectacular this season.
Fun fact: with this win, the Devils became just the second team in NHL history to record two 1-0 wins against the Bruins in a single season.
Key Moment: Take a bow, MacKenzie
The key moment of the game was Blackwood’s unbelievable save to end the game. It capped off an incredible night for the Devils goalie and got the team the win.
It was also one of the best saves you’ll ever see. Blackwood’s instincts, movement, and reaction on the play show why he’s one of the best young goalies in the league.
Player of the game: MacKenzie Blackwood
Have a game, MacKenzie Blackwood. He recorded a 40-save shutout, including a save that won’t be forgotten for a long time and might be the save of the season. The Devils are lucky to have this kid, he really is special.