Griffith’s amazing between-his-legs goal put the Bruins ahead late in the second period and stood up as the game-winner in Boston’s fifth straight win, a 4-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.
Griffith blocked a shot in the Bruins end and went on an end-to-end rush through two defenders. Marek Zidlicky put a hit on Griffith as the Bruins forward approached the Devils net, but Griffith turned his back to the goal and then took a wrist shot through his legs that also went through goaltender Cory Schneider's legs.
Griffith didn’t think twice about taking on two defenders.
“Yeah my strength against bigger guys, obviously if I want to play at this level, that’s something I had to work on in the summer,” Griffith said. “So I focused on it a lot in the summer and it paid off, obviously, on that play.”
Center Patrice Bergeron had one goal and two assists and linemate Reilly Smith had one goal and one assist for the Bruins (10-6-0), who went 4-0-0 on their homestand and have won six of their past seven games.
Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 26 of 28 shots.
The Bruins, however, needed Griffith’s magic to turn the momentum in their favor.
“It was big because we were definitely under pressure for maybe four, five minutes in a row and [Griffith] kind of changed that whole thing at the end of the period, which is nice because we weren’t playing great hockey right there and that kind of changed the momentum at least,” Smith said. “Now it gives us a little bit of a step ahead going into the third period.”
The Devils (6-7-2) have lost four in a row. Schneider, making his 15th straight start, stopped 19 of 23 shots and Jaromir Jagr and Travis Zajac scored for New Jersey, which outshot Boston 14-3 in the third period but could not stage a comeback.
Devils coach Pete DeBoer didn’t have much to say about the play of his goaltender.
“I thought it was average,” DeBoer said.
The Devils tied the score 2-2 on a goal by Jagr 13:00 into the second period. Jagr’s shot from the right dot eluded Rask to the far side. It was his 708th career goal, tying him with Mike Gartner for sixth place on the all-time list.
Jagr also played in his 1,488th NHL game Monday, passing Wayne Gretzky for sole possession of 17th place on the all-time list.
But the Bruins erupted late in the period, first on Griffith’s go-ahead goal at 18:01. Smith extended the lead to 4-2 1:20 later when his shot from the right hash mark beat Schneider with 39 seconds remaining.
“It definitely is something, you know, that we can build from and gives us the confidence that if we’re playing our game and go back to playing our system we’re tough to beat,” Bergeron said about the homestand. “We’re going out there [on the road] and playing two great teams and it’s not going to be easy but we have to build from what we’ve done so far.”
The Devils scored first at 1:26 on a wrist shot from the left hash mark by Zajac. Mike Cammalleri, who returned from missing six games with an injury, set up Zajac’s goal, which was the center’s first in 12 games.
The line of Jagr, Zajac and Cammalleri contributed five points.
“You know, I thought [Jagr] comes and he always works. He always tries,” DeBoer said. “I thought that line got some things going. I thought Cammalleri made a difference tonight, for being out, you can see. He might have been our best forward, and for a guy who hasn’t played in six or seven games, that’s quite a testament. So it’s nice to have him back.”
The Bruins answered on a power play. Smith’s shot from out high was slowed by Cammalleri’s stick and Carl Soderberg pounded on the loose puck. Soderberg’s shot from the slot beat Schneider at 10:21 to tie the score 1-1.
Bergeron sent the Bruins off to the first intermission with a lead by scoring the go-ahead goal at 17:16. New Jersey defenseman Eric Gelinas bobbled the puck and Bergeron pounced on the giveaway near the right circle before beating Schneider five-hole for a 2-1 Boston lead.
Bruins defenseman Torey Krug returned to the lineup for the first time since breaking his finger in a game against the Wild on Oct. 28. He had one shot on goal and a plus-1 rating in 21:16 of ice time.