Coming into tonight's game, the New Jersey Devils sat two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Atlantic Division. And the Devils, facing off against the Boston Bruins, were undefeated against the Boston Bruins.
The Devils should have walked away with two points. Instead, Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winning goal to help Boston defeat the Devils, 1-0, in overtime tonight at the Prudential Center.
The Bruins started their game-winning attack at their own blue line off an Ilya Kovalchuk turnover. Bergeron carried the puck into the zone and fired a shot on goalie Martin Brodeur. The puck deflected to the corner, where Bergeron gathered it in. He sent a pass to Mark Stuart, who fired a shot from the blue line. Mark Recchi tipped the shot on Brodeur, and the rebound came to Bergeron. The Bruins center put it into the open net for his 18th goal of the season.
Many of the Devils believe the referees should have penalized the Bruins for hooking Kovalchuk.
“Kovie is getting mugged there in the neutral zone and there’s no call,” Brodeur said to Tom Gulliti of the Bergen Record. “It doesn’t feel good because I think everybody thought we were going to get a call there. All game long, these referees, I don’t know what they were watching, but it was kind of a different game for them than for us. But you have to battle through this. You have to get used to it. In the playoffs, that’s what’s going to be.”
Devils center Patrik Elias received a game misconduct penalty after the game for complaining to the refs. Elias would only say “I voiced my opinion.”
Devils coach Jacques Lemaire thought the refs missed the call.
“When Kovalchuk had the puck, I thought he was hooked twice,” Lemaire said to Gulliti. “But, at the end of game like that, a lot of times they will skip these calls.”
The Bruins controlled play throughout the game, dominating the Devils and outshooting their opponent. By the end of the second period, Boston doubled the Devils shot total, 22-11.
Both teams struggled to get any quality scoring chances. Boston almost struck early in the first period, when Stuart rang a shot off the post from the point. They threatened again in later in the period, but Brodeur stopped that chance. Defenseman Dennis Wideman took a shot from the point, and the rebound laid loose in the crease. Brodeur dove to his right and covered the puck just as Marco Sturm attempted to put in the rebound.
Brodeur finished with his 33 saves in the loss.
The Devils got their first chance at 13:37 of the first period. Boston goalie Tuukka Rask misplayed a puck in his own zone, and the puck sat near the net. Dean McAmmond tried to get the puck, but he was apparently tripped before he could get a shot on net. No penalty was called.
David Clarkson nearly put the Devils ahead in the third period. Clarkson’s shot from 20 feet went past the glove of Rask, but it hit the crossbar and skittered wide of net.
“It just nicked my glove,” Rask said. “I don’t think they counted it as a save but I did.”
Rask finished the game with 21 saves for his sixth career shutout.
With the win, the Bruins kept a hold of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston stayed two points in front of the Atlanta Thrashes and four points in front of the New York Rangers. Both teams won their games tonight.
The overtime loss guaranteed the Devils one point. They now sit one point behind Pittsburgh for the Atlantic Division lead and the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have six games remaining.
The Devils next game is Friday, April 2, against the Blackhawks at the Prudential Center.
There were no penalties called until the third period, when each team received two minors…The Devils, who were undefeated against the Bruins, finished with a 3-1-0 record against them this season…This is the seventh time the Devils were shutout this season.
Patrice Bergeron Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP Photo
Martin Brodeur Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images