The Boston Bruins split a quick back-to-back against the New Jersey Devils, as the regular season is down to just four games left for the B’s. After cruising to victory last night, the Bruins allowed the Devils to capitalize on their few chances tonight and pick up a victory. While the Bruins were able to force overtime and salvage a point, it was tough to see them drop points against one of the more disappointing teams in the league this season.
The Bruins kicked off their quick two game set with a comfortable 3-0 victory last night. Despite not scoring in the first, they controlled how the game went, and had the momentum heading into the second period, where both Nick Ritchie and Patrice Bergeron would notch goals. Matt Grzelcyk would cap off the victory with a late third period goal to help ensure the victory, which ended up clinching a playoff berth for the Bruins. Overall, the Bruins played like the better team, which they are. They had more than double the Devils shot on nets, and their defense constantly thwarted the Devils scoring attempts. And while it took some time to finally light up the lamp, the Bruins offensive efforts finally resulted in some goals, and it led to them moving past the New York Islanders in the East Division as a result.
The Bruins wouldn’t be so fortunate tonight. After starting off slow and falling behind 1-0 in the first period, the Bruins would take back the lead in the second period off of goals from Patrice Bergeron and Taylor Hall, seemingly putting Boston in a good position to pull away in the third. Things didn’t end up going their way, as Jesper Boqvist scored about halfway through the period to tie things. Sean Kuraly and Yegor Sharangovich would trade goals shortly thereafter, which ended up forcing overtime. The Devils quickly got a delayed penalty, and Pavel Zacha scored his second goal of the night before the power play could kick in, giving the Devils a 4-3 victory.
Despite picking up three points, this feels like a missed opportunity of sorts. Any time you can pick up points against weaker opposition such as the Devils, you have to strike, especially late in the season. Dropping tonight’s game, in which the Bruins felt in control for most of the game, was tough. The defense did a good job of limiting New Jersey’s chances for the second consecutive night, but they were able to capitalize tonight. Jaro Halak had a rough game in net, as he only made 17 saves on 21 shots, which just isn’t good enough. Jeremy Swayman could potentially move up and form the 1-2 punch that Halak and Tuuka Rask have formed for the past couple of seasons.
With four games left on the slate, the Bruins have a pair of remaining games against the New York Rangers, followed by extremely important contests against the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals. The East is still wide open, with the top four teams being separated by just five points. It will be extremely important for the Bruins to finish off this stretch strong and improve their playoff seeding as much as they can.
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