Boucher, Kinkaid lead Devils past Bruins, 2-1

Boucher, Kinkaid lead Devils past Bruins, 2-1

NEWARK, N.J. - The New Jersey Devils are fighting and scratching for a playoff spot with five games left in the regular season. It looks as if the Boston Bruins are trying to give one away.

Reid Boucher scored a tiebreaking power-play goal early in the third period, Keith Kinkaid made 39 saves and the Devils kept their faint playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over the struggling Bruins on Tuesday night.

"I think it was real important for the team," Kinkaid said after the Devils snapped a two-game losing streak. "We needed a bounceback game from Carolina, just to stay in the race. We can only control our games. We just have to hope there are a few losses from other teams. We just have to win our games."

The Devils moved within five points of Philadelphia and Detroit in the race for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins remained in third place in the Atlantic Division - a playoff spot - despite losing for the sixth time in seven games.

Detroit's 4-3 loss to Montreal kept the Red Wings from taking over third, leaving them a point behind Boston.

New Jersey, Detroit and Boston all have five games left in the regular season.

"You can look at it any way you want but you have to look at yourselves, and blame yourselves first for this loss," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "You can say you tried, but at this time of year, it's not good enough. The situation that we are in, we expect better from ourselves."

The Bruins did everything but win. They outshot the Devils 40-15, but they were done in by penalties. New Jersey went 2 for 5 with the man advantage, with Boucher and Travis Zajac setting up each other for goals.

Boucher got the game-winner just seven seconds after Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was called for boarding Devante Smith-Pelly. Chara objected on his way to the penalty box and his frustration quickly mounted.

The Devils won the faceoff and the puck eventually rolled to Zajac, who found Boucher alone in the right circle for his eighth goal of the season.

"We were desperate, too," Boucher said. "We're not out of it by any means. We're going to try and keep this going and see what happens."

Brad Marchand scored for the first time in nine games for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask made 13 stops.

"You want to find ways to win and get at it," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "You don't want to start banging on your heads and kind of get frustrated. It's about getting results and putting your chin up and going out there and finding a way."

New Jersey had lost five in a row against Boston.

Kinkaid stopped 16 shots in the final 20 minutes, but he saw most of them. The most dangerous chance was a rebound attempt by Matt Beleskey with 8:40 left, but he missed the net.

Marchand tied the game early in the second period with a great individual effort on his way to his 35th goal. He took a pass from Chara at the Devils' blue line, split defensemen Andy Greene and Adam Larsson, faked Kinkaid to the ice and deposited a backhander into an open net.

New Jersey jumped in front at 16:59 of the first. Boucher, who took a high stick from Bergeron to set up a power-play opportunity, found Zajac on the inside of the right circle and the center beat Rask for his 14th goal, and second in as many games.

Kinkaid was playing for the first time in five games because his game slipped taking over the injured Cory Schneider.

Scott Wedgewood had played well after being called up from Albany, with Kinkaid serving as his backup. The rest seemed to do him some good. He stopped all 11 shots in the first period, including a breakaway by Beleskey and 2-on-1 shots by David Pastrnak and Loui Eriksson.

"A great response," Zajac said of Kinkaid. "He's a gamer. He had like five 2-on-1s in the first period. He came up big and we got the lead, we did a better job of closing it up and not giving them as many odd-man rushes."

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.


Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad.