January 19, 2012

Post-Game Breakdown: B's wake up late, down Devils

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Boston 4, New Jersey 1

Recap: Despite getting outshot 23-12 in the first two periods and losing a number of puck battles, the Bruins only trailed 1-0 to the Devils via a late goal in the opening frame by Petr Sykora.

Boston busted out in the third with goals from Andy Ference at the 3:01 mark and a pair of tallies 35 ticks apart a few minutes later from Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell. Chris Kelly sealed the deal with an empty-netter, closing out the scoring in a 4-1 victory for the Black and Gold.

Records: Boston 30-13-1, 61 points; New Jersey 26-18-2, 54 points

Key Play of the Game: After going ahead 2-1 on a power-play tally by Horton, Campbell’s strike stuck a dagger in the Devils. The fourth line had three scoring chances on the one shift alone before No. 11 buried one past Marty Brodeur.

Connolly’s Commendations: Fittingly, both Shawn Thornton and Dan Paille picked up assists on Campbell’s tally during a magnificent night for the line. The three combined for five points and were tremendous in the final frame.

Benoit Pouliot’s stat line might not jump off the page, but the winger had a very strong outing. Reunited with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley (who returned from a brief personal absence), the third line generated plenty of chances in their first game back together. Paille was chief among them, as No. 67 narrowly missed scoring in the second when he hit the post and was later robbed on a sensational glove save by Brodeur.

Tim Thomas rebounded strongly after a few subpar outings. Entering the game with three losses in his last four starts, No. 30 was back in top form, making 30 stops on 31 shots on the night.

Connolly’s Critiques: Brad Marchand was hardly detrimental in his return to the lineup, but the feisty winger had a quiet showing against the Devils. Marchand finished the night with no shots on goal in 16:40 of ice time.

Ditto for his center, Patrice Bergeron, who won just 9-of-20 (45%) at the dot.

Notes: Kelly’s empty-net goal ended a personal six-game point drought. Six Bruins finished the night with zero shots on goal. The B’s now trail the Rangers by one point for first place in the conference. Campbell had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick -- the first of his career.

Final Thoughts: It was starting to look like another doozey for the Bruins, who were in danger of heading home with a 1-3-0 record on their four-game road swing. But after a few recent poor showings in the third period, the B’s got back to their bread and butter, dominating the Devils in the final frame to grab the two points.

Next: Boston will battle it out with the Rangers on Saturday at 1 o’clock at TD Garden.