Anton Khudobin stopped 35 of 38 shots in his evening of work and was the best player on the ice for the Bruins with the B’s defense giving up some really high-quality chances throughout the game. Khudobin was brilliant to start making a handful of big stops in the first five minutes when Boston had a couple of rough breakdowns. He then he stopped 26-of-28 in the final 40 minutes of a game where one of two miscues could have meant the difference. It continues a brilliant season for the Bruins backup goalie where he’s been very, very good on a number of instances where the team hasn’t been up to par in front of him. Both Khudobin and the Bruins were in a little better place by the third period, but it would have been for naught if he hadn’t been so good to start for the Black and Gold.
A bit of a tough night for a couple of rookies in Danton Heinen (9:04) and Jake DeBrusk (9:51), who both finished with less than 10 minutes of ice time and seemed to be having some difficulty keeping up with the fast and physical attack from the Devils. DeBrusk was on the ice for a couple of goals against the Black and Gold, but both first-year wingers are going to be monitored pretty closely for drop-offs in performance as the intensity picks up in the second half. Both have been pretty consistently good as rookies this season, but it really becomes a different animal in the second half of the NHL season leading into the postseason. It’s going to be like that each night for the remaining 30 or so games, and it’s going to be a big challenge for all of Boston’s rookies to be on point at all times.
The Bruins were nursing a one-goal lead in the third period after Adam McQuaid’s goal midway through the third period and Patrice Bergeron was whistled for delay of game after a puck went over the glass. Rather than buckle and potentially allow the tying goal with one of their best PK guys in the box, the B’s stiffened and finally got some quality play up and down the lineup while putting the clams on the Devils power play. The Bruins killed off that New Jersey PP with roughly five minutes to go in the third period got their empty net goal shortly afterward and never looked back while holding New Jersey to a 0-for-7 performance on the man-advantage.
It looked early on like it was going to be a tough night for McQuaid as he took a couple of penalties and was on the ice for a goal against in the second period. But McQuaid kept with it and stepped into a play to keep an offensive possession alive at the offensive blue line, and that wobbly, long-distance shot bounced off a Devils body in front and lifted past Eddie Lack for the winning goal. McQuaid finished with a goal and a plus-1 rating in 17:51 of ice time, had four hits and four blocked shots in a gritty night of work. Best of all, McQuaid went into berserker mode after Brad Marchand took a big hit setting up Boston’s empty-net goal, and fought through the entire Devils team to get a piece of Damon Severson at the end of the game. McQuaid is exactly the kind of player a hockey team wins with.
BY THE NUMBERS
1 – the number of career shorthanded goals for Torey Krug after he scored one in the first period of Sunday night’s game by alertly throwing a puck to the front of the net from below the goal line. Krug’s bid bounced off Nico Hischier’s stick and went right through Eddie Lack’s pads for Boston’s first goal of the game.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“It’s a character statement. It shows that we have a lot of fight in the room. At this point in the season that’s going to take us a long way.” –Bruce Cassidy to reporters on the B’s fighting through a less-than-stellar performance to earn the two-point result when it was all said and done.