Bruins

Gabrielle showing some fourth-line swagger in camp

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Gabrielle showing some fourth-line swagger in camp

BRIGHTON, Mass – Jesse Gabrielle didn’t hesitate when asked what his goal was in his first full NHL training camp.

The former fourth-round pick said he’s in camp to win an NHL job with the Bruins right off the bat, so clearly, Gabrielle, 20, doesn’t lack for the confidence he’ll need to do it. He showed a little of the reason behind that swagger on Monday night when he scored one of the three B’s goals in Boston’s 3-2 preseason-opening win over the Montreal Canadiens in Quebec City.

It was a big spot for Gabrielle, who was playing with Noel Acciari and Riley Nash in the kind of fourth line audition for NHL spots that hopefuls must flourish in during camp.

“They’re putting me in a really good spot to show that I can play at this level and hopefully earn a roster spot like I said. I’m just going to go out there and play hockey,” said Gabrielle. “People say I need to find the line and stuff, but [Brad Marchand] did too at this level. I just need to find where that line is and I think management is giving me good feedback on all that stuff.

“I know that I’m really good when I fore-check. When I’m the F1 and really just bearing down and getting in there and hitting people, getting to the net and scoring goals, I can only do that when I’m playing high energy and high pace. I just always want to be the first guy on the puck. [Coach Cassidy] likes guys that can skate, and that’s good for me because I can skate.”

It’s that offensive component combined with his energetic, agitating style that’s drawn comparisons to Marchand throughout his junior career and saw him total 75 goals for Prince George the past two seasons. It’s that same combination of attributes that could make him a dark-horse candidate for the fourth line if he can continue to make things happen each time he’s on the ice.  

From the sound of it, Cassidy is already leaning in a certain direction for his energy line based on last season. Tim Schaller, Riley Nash and Noel Acciari all played significant roles for the Bruins last season and it looks like Sean Kuraly is going to enjoy the inside track for the 13th forward spot based on his strong showing in the NHL postseason.

Gabrielle understands the high volume of quality forwards in camp and the serious competition for the fourth line after the established group really found their vibe late in the season. There’s a pretty good chance Gabrielle begins his pro career at Providence, where he can learn the nuances of being an energy forward at the pro level and figure out where “the line” is before he begins earning an NHL reputation.

He’s not letting that stop him from putting his best skate forward, though, and standing as another in a large group of talented, young forwards showing in camp that they’re close to ready for the prime-time action.

“I think the fourth line role is a good starter for me, and I just play with pace and energy…that’s all I can do,” said Gabrielle. “Camp has gone well. I’m showing that I can play at this level, and hopefully, they see it too. There are a lot of good players here and a lot of guys that can play in the NHL, but only a certain number of spots.

“You’ve just got to try and separate yourself, and show that you can do things that maybe other guys can’t really do. But at the same time, these guys are all my teammates and brothers. They’ll still be my teammates even if I don’t end up starting in Boston. Right now, I’m just focusing on putting my best foot forward.”

Gabrielle is doing that early in camp, but he knows he must keep the pedal pinned to the floor if he’s to become a surprise member of the NHL roster little more than a month from now. 

Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

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Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

GOLD STAR: Who else but Anton Khudobin? The Bruins backup netminder improved to 6-0-2 on the season and upped his NHL-leading save percentage to .938 while making 40 saves in a shootout win over the New Jersey Devils. Khudobin was outstanding stoning players like Nico Hischier and Blake Coleman on breakaways, and stood tall in the third period while the Bruins were outshot 15-5 and ended up tying the game. Even better Khudobin was super-competitive in the shootout where he was challenging shooters, and even stared down Hischier after he poke-checked the puck away from him on his attempt. The Bruins don’t win Wednesday night’s game without Khudobin playing the way he did, and that should pretty much guarantee that he plays again on Friday afternoon against the Penguins.

BLACK EYE: One shot and one hit in 8:28 of ice time for Jimmy Hayes in his first game against his old Bruins team, so pretty much par for the course from the underachieving big guy. Hayes has scored a couple of goals for the Devils this season, but he’s been mostly the same as in the past with sporadic scoring, intermittent tough guy play in the danger areas and then long stretches where you don’t even notice the 6-foot-6 guy out on the ice. Of the two ex-Bruins forwards going up against their old team tonight, Drew Stafford was by far the better of the two with three shots on net and at least one pretty decent scoring chance among them after stealing a puck from Frank Vatrano.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins set things up for their shootout win with a strong opening first period when it came to finishing off plays. Yes, they were outshot by a 15-10 margin, but they also made two big plays with Jake DeBrusk scoring a goal and then David Pastrnak setting up Patrice Bergeron for his fifth goal of the season. Beyond that Anton Khudobin also stopped 14 pucks in the first period that included a number of scoring chances for the Devils, and it showed what the Bruins are capable of when they’re on the right side of some key plays early in the game. Sure, the Devils clawed their way back in, but the Bruins felt like they had the game in control because of the work they put in during the first period.

HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie McAvoy led all skaters with a game-high 27:04 of ice time, and played a strong game while totaling three shots on net and three blocked shots. But he saved the real good stuff for the 11th round of the shootout when he threw a nifty stick move at Cory Schneider, and then roofed a backhanded attempt in tight and close to the net. The McAvoy shootout move begged the question why it took so long to get to him, but also mercifully closed out a shootout session that felt like it could have gone on forever between the Bruins and Devils. The finishing move from the 19-year-old was pure, unadulterated skill with the puck.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the first NHL career point for Matt Grzelcyk arrived in the first period when he picked up an assist on a lead pass off the boards that freed Jake DeBrusk up for a goal-scoring rush.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s the end of a road trip, so give the guys credit. They dug down deep and found a way to get the two points.” – Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy,  

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Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

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Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

NEWARK, N.J. Charlie McCoy scored in the 11th round of the shootout to lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Anton Khudobin made 40 saves as Boston improved to 9-7-4 with its third straight win-all with Khudobin in goal.

Jake DeBrusk and Patrice Bergeron scored first period goals for the Bruins.

New Jersey has dropped three of its last five in falling to 12-5-4.

Jesper Bratt and Brian Gibbons scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider made 27 saves.

The shootout opened with Hall and David Pastrnak trading goals. And it stayed that way until McAvoy's game-winner

Prior to the extra period, the first of three regular season meetings between the longtime Eastern Conference rivals was essentially a special teams affair.

Despite not scoring on their four power plays and surrendering a man advantage goal to the Devils, it was the Bruins who left with two points thanks to two first period even strength strikes and the play of their ostensible backup goaltender.

The Bruins struck first when rookie left winger DeBrusk opened the scoring with his fifth of the season with a shot from the right circle at 1:25. And Bergeron added to Boston's lead with his fifth of the season at 11:02.

The Bruins had a two-goal lead and Khudobin, who made his third straight start, tried to make it hold up with a pad save on a Nico Hischier break-in with and a diving stop on Travis Zajac in a span of 1:13. But there was nothing he could do on Bratt's power play goal with 2:50 left as New Jersey's rookie right winger lifted a loose puck in the slot to halve the deficit while Brian Boyle was tied up with Zdeno Chara in front of Khudobin. A video review upheld the goal.

The game remained 2-1 until the Devils equalized on Gibbons' top-of-the-crease deflection with 4:44 left in regulation. Up to that point, though, Khudobin was the story as the netminder stopped a Blake Coleman shorthanded attempt with 10:35 left in the second. Khudobin also benefitted from Hischier, the first overall pick in last June's NHL draft, losing control of the puck alongside the goal line late in the period. Midway through the third, Khudobin stoned Hischier from the top of the crease.

The Devils outshot the Bruins, 42-29.

NOTES: Prior to the game, New Jersey announced RW Kyle Palmieri would miss 4-6 weeks with a broken right foot, suffered in the Devils' 4-3 overtime win in Minnesota Monday. The team later announced Palmieri had been placed on the injured reserve retroactive to Monday. .New Jersey scratched D Dalton Prout and RW Stefan Noesen. .Bruins C Ryan Spooner dressed for the first time since suffering a torn right adductor on Oct. 15. .Boston scratched LW Matt Beleskey, D Torey Krug and D Paul Postma. .The Bruins did not have LW Anders Bjork (undisclosed), LW Brad Marchand (upper body injury), RW David Backes (colon surgery) and D Adam McQuaid (broken right fibula). .Boston announced RW Jordan Szwarz had been sent down to AHL Providence. .The Devils announced Friday's home game against Vancouver will coincide with the team hosting the NHL and NHLPA "joint initiative Hockey Fights Cancer" as part of the "annual Cancer Awareness Month."

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.

Devils: Host Vancouver Friday night.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE