The Bruins were not perfect in their two-game road excursion to Ottawa and New Jersey. In fact, they played some stretches of truly bad hockey.
But thanks an excellent goaltending tandem, the B’s took three out of four points on a challenging road trip. Linus Ullmark recorded 26 saves on Wednesday and the B’s got the key late goal to beat the New Jersey Devils, 3-1, on Wednesday.
Patrice Bergeron, who had a goal taken off the board on Tuesday because of an offside challenge, gave the B’s the go-ahead goal with 4:09 left in regulation when he deflected a Hampus Lindholm shot past Vitek Vanecek.
Former Devil Pavel Zacha then added the insurance empty net goal with 1:49 left.
The Bruins took an improbable 1-0 lead into the third period, but Nico Hischier tied it up at 6:11 of the third. Tomas Tatar and Fabian Zetterlund combined to take the puck away from Charlie McAvoy in the right corner. Zetterlund zipped a beautiful pass past Lindholm to Hischier for the tight redirection past Ullmark in the crease.
For the second night in a row, the B’s played a scoreless first period. And for the second consecutive night, it was because their goaltender was excellent. On Tuesday, it as Jeremy Swayman, on Wednesday, Ullmark was busy early.
The Devils outshot the B’s 14-8 in the first, despite the fact that the B’s had the only power play, which was ineffective. Ullmark stopped plenty of quality chances, the best of which was a Miles Wood breakaway. Jesper Boqvist also had a clean break-in after a Derek Forbort turnover, but the crossbar came to the rescue.
The B’s had very little going in the first. Trent Frederic, playing fourth line center for the injured Tomas Nosek, appeared to try to ignite his team when he took on 6-foot-6, 230-pound defenseman Kevin Bahl and delivered the better of the shots, though most landed on Bahl’s helmet.
Ullmark continued to keep the B’s in the game in the second the period as the skaters continued to turn over the puck, often with little pressure. It appeared as though Dawson Mercer might finally put the Devils up by a goal when he took the puck behind the net and held it for an instant. As Ullmark was falling forward, Mercer had plenty of top-shelf space but Ullmark somehow got his blocker on it.
The Devils got their first power play on a McAvoy interference of a draw, but the B’s did a good job of killing it. Then Frederic got two thirds of the way to a Gordie Howe hat trick.
Michael McLeod collided with Zacha as the two were hunting a puck by the left wall and both fell. McLeod got to his knees and collected the puck, but he fanned on his pass and it went right to Lindholm, who dished it to Frederic. From the high slot, Frederic notched his seventh of the year with a wrister over Vanecek’s blocker at 8:57.
The B’s had an opportunity to extend the lead when they got back-to-back power plays, and coach Jim Montgomery loaded up with his five-forward unit. But they couldn’t cash in on the first and then quickly wiped out their second with a Bergeron penalty.
The B’s were better in the second, holding a 13-7 shot advantage, but they were facing a difficult third period after playing on Tuesday.