Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Dec 30, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates his goal against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

A long-range shot from Devils defenseman Luke Hughes at the 1:11 mark of the second period had all the makings of a night-ruining goal for the Bruins and a sellout crowd at TD Garden on Saturday night.

Not only was the shot New Jersey’s first of the middle frame, and not only did it make it 2-0 for the Devils, but it was on an undeniably stoppable shot, and on what felt like a true ‘nothing’ play of sorts from the Devil defender. Hell, even the Devils on the ice seemed surprised that the shot beat Linus Ullmark, as they were late — and looking somewhat confused — when they congratulated Hughes in front of the New Jersey bench.

  • But powered by four-second period tallies, including three in a 4:23 stretch of play, David Pastrnak and the rest of the B’s offense came to life and helped give the Bruins back-to-back victories for the first time in nearly a month, this one by a 5-2 final on home ice.

  • Boston’s comeback push started in waves, and finally found a tangible result to put on the board when Jake DeBrusk broke through for his first goal since Nov. 30, scored 5:35 into the second period.

    The goal really seemed to start on an excellent read from Bruins captain Brad Marchand to pressure Devils goalender Vitek Vanecek on a puck retrieval behind the New Jersey net.

    With the goal, and following a two-assist night in Buffalo this past Wednesday, DeBrusk had points in back-to-back games for the first time since October.

    A Pastrnak sweep in at the goal mouth 7:26 later knotted things up at 2-2, and the B’s were off the races.

  • Another Pastrnak finish, this one on the power play and with 4:21 left in the middle frame, gave the Bruins their first lead of the night. And a Kevin Shattenkirk strike on Vanecek just 1:35 later pushed Boston’s lead to two, and gave the veteran Shattenkirk the 100th goal of his NHL career.

    A four-goal second period was exactly the response the Bruins wanted to see once they found themselves down by two, and it also came with a strong effort in their own zone, as the Bruins allowed just five shots over the final 18:49 of the second period after Hughes’ goal to make it 2-0 for Jersey.

     

  • Dec 30, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman John Marino (6) and right wing Timo Meier (28) skate back to the bench as the Boston Bruins celebrate one of their four goals during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 30, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman John Marino (6) and right wing Timo Meier (28) skate back to the bench as the Boston Bruins celebrate one of their four goals during the second period at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

    In the third period, the Bruins continue to try to grind the Devils to dust, while Ullmark responded with 23 straight saves to lead the club to victory.

    The Bruins got yet another insurance marker from Shattenkirk, as he scored Boston’s fifth and final goal of the evening, this dagger coming on the man advantage and with just 3:11 left in the game.

    But the B’s also had to hold their breath in this one, as Charlie McAvoy departed the game following a scary-looking collision with Ullmark.

    After the game, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said that McAvoy is “fine,” and noted that he was upright and walking around the locker room without issues following this one.

  • Dec 30, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Georgii Merkulov (42) carries the puck in his first NHL game during the first period against the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 30, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Georgii Merkulov (42) carries the puck in his first NHL game during the first period against the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

    Saturday night at TD Garden also came with the NHL debut of prospect Georgii Merkulov.

    Merkulov became the fourth Bruins player to make his NHL debut with the club this season (Johnny Beecher, Mason Lohrei, and Matthew Poitras are the others), and the first Russian-born player to make their NHL debut with the Bruins since Alexander Khokhlachev in Apr. 2014.

    Skating between James van Riemsdyk and Trent Frederic for the majority of the night, Merkulov finished his NHL debut with two blocked shots, and wins in three of his 11 faceoffs, in 15:08 of time on ice.

    Montgomery said that he thought that Merkulov’s debut was “really good” and noted that he only took him out of the rotation when the Bruins were trying to close the game out at 4-2.

    The Bruins return to action Sunday night when they take on the Red Wings in Detroit.

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