Final: Boston 5, New Jersey 4
Recap: The first period was a 20-minute stretch filled with oddities and awesomeness. Boston killed off four penalties, scored two shorthanded goals (Andrew Ference, Greg Campbell) and an even-strength tally (also from Campbell) to take a 3-0 lead into the intermission.
In the second, that lead got pushed to four when Jaromir Jagr sent the puck in front on the power play, enabling David Krejci and Zdeno Chara to team up to whack it past Marty Brodeur, with the captain getting credited for the goal.
But from there, New Jersey scored two goals before the middle frame was over to cut the lead in half off tallies from Patrick Elias and ice-cold pivot Travis Zajac. Things got even scarier in the third when Andy Greene cut the lead to one with a little over 14 minutes to go.
Tyler Seguin pushed the B's edge back to two, but the Devils again made it a one-goal game with 37 ticks left. Luckily they couldn't generate any chances in the final half-minute of the game.
Records: Boston 26-9-4, 56 points; New Jersey 15-15-10, 40 points
Key Play of the Game: This game never should've been in danger of slipping away for the Bruins. No play squashed hopes of this one being a runaway win more than Milan Lucic's boneheaded turnover late in the second. No. 17 was the last one back, gave the puck away to Zajac and tried unsuccessfully to hook, slash and cross-check the center as he took off and scored on a breakaway.
Connolly's Commendations: The Bruins best players tonight were a 41-year-old winger, a (traditionally) fourth-line center and another pivot who'd just returned from a broken leg.
Jaromir Jagr set up two goals and also made this wicked awesome spinning backhand move that wasn't successful, but was still pretty rad nevertheless.
Campbell stepped it up big time, tallying twice and, just as importantly, doing great at the dot (won 11-of-17) in over 21 minutes (!) of ice time.
Major kudos have to go to Chris Kelly for his spectacular work on the PK tonight. No. 23 was blocking shots and clogging passing lanes like a mad man. Who knows how this game would've gone if Boston wasn't perfect on the penalty kill, as the Devils were 0-for-8 on the night on the man advantage.
Connolly's Critiques: Shy of Krejci getting hit in the stick with a Jagr pass, the top line did squat tonight. They were each minus-2, with Krejci netting their lone point.
Notes: Brad Marchand left the game in the second period after being elbowed in the head by Anton Volchenkov. He did not return. Volchenkov was tossed and the Bruins were given a five-minute power play, which they were outscored on, 1-0, thanks to Zajac's shorty. Brodeur hasn't beat the B's since March 2010. Anton Khudobin started this game. Don't think I mentioned the poor guy once in this recap.
Final Thoughts: What an entertaining, weird, worrisome game. The Bruins were en route to a blowout victory, then started falling apart, then saw their leading goal-scorer suffer what was presumably a concussion, all before hanging on for a win that propelled them into first place in the division. Talk about mixed emotions.
Next: The B's are right back at it Thursday night when they host the surging Isles.