As Seen on NESN – The Boston Bruins fell to the New Jersey Devils, 3-2, in a shootout Wednesday night in the final match-up between the two teams for the season. Milan Lucic and Dennis Wideman scored the two goals for Boston.
With only three games left in the regular season, the game proved to be of ultimate importance: a win tonight, plus some help in the form of a win for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their game, could clinch a playoff spot for the Black & Gold.
The Devils took an early lead with a goal by Dainius Zubrus at 3:14, which made the score 1-0.
Zubrus entered the penalty box on a hooking call at 5:57, giving the Bruins a chance to tie the score with a power play goal.
Unfortunately, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur stayed solid in net, even through a couple of scrums and pile-ups in front of the goal, stopping a near-goal at 9:15 by sitting on the puck.
“I thought we looked like a nervous team tonight,” said head coach Claude Julien. “We seemed like we had to settle our team down most of the night.”
The Bruins earned another power play at, when Vitaly Vishnevski was called for tripping at 18:55. When Mike Mottau joined his teammate in the box on a hooking call with 22 seconds remaining, the B’s got a little extra help with a five-on-three.
Time ran out in the first without a tying goal, but the Black & Gold would start the second period with 55 seconds of a five-on-three advantage, giving them some more time to get a goal.
With time running out in the two-man advantage, Wideman tied the score at one with a shot from the right faceoff circle that pinged off the goalpost and into the net just 37 seconds into the second period.
Andrew Alberts, in his first game back since he was injured last December, was called for roughing at 3:22, giving the Devils their first power play of the game, but Boston stepped up with a great penalty kill and stopped New Jersey from scoring.
“I thought he handled himself well,” said Coach Julien of Alberts’s play. “We told him to keep things simple, and he did, and he was as aggressive as he’s been before. It was nice to see him back in the lineup with a good physical presence.”
Tim Thomas made a key save on a Zubrus shot at 7:38, keeping tight to the post and stopping the puck and the goal light never went off, but Zubrus and his teammates, as well as the Devils fans, were engaged in a goal celebration, complete with horns and music.
After a lengthy review – over eight minutes – the on-ice call stood, and the score still remained at one.
Lucic beat out the Devils defensemen at 16:33 to put the B’s in the lead 2-1 and end the scoring for the period.
“I felt like I had a step on the defenseman there,” Lucic explained. “[I got] a great pass [as I was] driving the net, and I just tipped it over Brodeur’s pad.”
Thomas came up big again with two saves around the eight-minute mark of the third period to keep the Black & Gold in the lead.
But with 5:28 to go, David Clarkson brought the Devils back into the game with a goal that tied the score at two and driving the two teams into overtime.
Boston controlled the overtime play early on, heavily testing out Brodeur’s goalkeeping skills, but Thomas countered with his own stellar saves when called upon as well.
With 47.1 seconds to go, the B’s got a lucky break when Brian Gionta entered the box for high-sticking, giving them a four-on-three power play for the remainder of overtime, but they failed to score, and the shootout commenced.
Thomas stopped Gionta, Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner, but Brodeur countered by stopping Glen Metropolit, Phil Kessel and David Krejci to put the shootout into sudden death.
But Zach Parise, the Devils first extra shooter, ended the game by flipping the puck past Thomas after Brodeur stopped Marco Sturm’s attempt.
While they didn’t get any help from the Lightning, the B’s once again stepped up and earned a very important point, tying them with the Ottawa Senators.
“We played a pretty good game out there,” said Lucic. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the two points, but we got one. We played hard, and we’ve got to make sure we regain our energy in Ottawa tomorrow and get focused for Friday night.”
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