BOSTON – There's still plenty of time for the New Jersey Devils to turn their season around.
A comeback road win against the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins just might've been a major turning point Saturday night.
Andy Greene scored the second of two power-play goals separated by 24 seconds with 44.1 seconds left in the third period and the Devils doubled their season's win total and earned their first road win of the season, 4-3, at TD Garden after trailing by two goals twice.
"We were due for some good fortune," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I mean, we haven't had a lot of it through the first 10 or 11 games. And I thought the guys continued to work hard. We dug ourselves a little hole early and considering the circumstances, it would've been easy to pack it in and we didn't. We kept chipping away and like I said, we were due for some good luck."
The Bruins (7-3-0) had won five in a row. New Jersey improved to 2-5-4 on the season and 1-5-2 on the road. New Jersey went 4-for-7 on the power play, the most man-advantage goals allowed by Boston since January 2012.
The Devils trailed 3-1 before they scored in the last minute of the second period, and were down one with less than two minutes to go.
Boston's attempt to protect the one-goal lead it carried into the third period was severely challenged with 3:15 to play in regulation, when Torey Krug was called for a high sticking double-minor after a battle with Steve Bernier. Then with 1:49 remaining, Patrice Bergeron's clearing attempt left the rink for a penalty for delay of game and sent New Jersey on a 5-on-3.
The Devils waited until there was about 90 seconds remaining on the clock before they pulled Martin Brodeur (25 saves) to create a 6-on-3 advantage. At 18:52, Marek Zidlicky ripped a slap shot past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (28 saves) high to the glove side to time the game.
"Well yeah, we talked about it. We didn't want to do it with two minutes left," DeBoer said. "We felt we could generate something 5-on-3 and not give up an empty-net goal. But when we got down to a minute and a half, at that point I don't know what the odds say. We wanted to get a net presence and Bernier's a guy we needed to get in front of Rask. So, we did and he did his job and [it was] a great shot."
With Bergeron out of the box, the Devils opted to reinsert Brodeur and go for the win 5-on-4. Jaromir Jagr found Damien Brunner for an open shot from the right side of the slot. Rask made the initial save and then Greene then scored his game-winner at 19:16 from the left circle.
"I was just cheating a little bit in there and it popped right to me," said Greene, who hadn't scored a goal since last April. "And you know what? Rask read it really great and I didn't really have much room to put that in there."
Prior to their loss to the Devils, the Bruins had been 6-0-0 in games they led by two goals. Just two nights ago, they started slow but won a game with 0.8 seconds left on a David Krejci goal against the San Jose Sharks. This time, they started fast and lost momentum somewhere in the second period.
"I think they kept pushing on us pretty hard. I think we were on our heels way too much," Bergeron said. "We said before the game that they're a solid team that keeps going on you and going on the forecheck, and they did what we were expecting. We just didn't match it."
The Bruins scored the first goal of the night nine seconds into a power play. Krug took a wrist shot from the right point through Lucic screen before it got past Brodeur at 7:52 for a 1-0 Bruins lead.
Jarome Iginla, who finished the night with three points, doubled the Bruins' lead with a little help from Brunner. After he won a battle at the New Jersey blue line and won the race to the puck, Iginla took a tough-angle shot from the right wall. The shot hit off Brunner and went past Brodeur for a 2-0 lead at 9:19. The Devils then burned their timeout to stop the momentum.
New Jersey reversed the flow momentarily during a power play, when Adam Henrique scored on a rebound of an Eric Gelinas shot at 11:24. With that power-play goal, the Devils ran their streak of games with at least one goal on the power play to five.
Milan Lucic, however, made sure the Bruins took a two-goal lead to the dressing room. When Krejci hit him in stride at the New Jersey blue line, Lucic used the room in front of him to get to the circle and then rip a shot past Brodeur for a 3-1 lead with 56 seconds remaining before the first intermission.
The Devils went to the dressing room down two goals and looking to regroup.
"Yeah, it wasn't positive, I'll tell you that," Greene said. "You know we lost pretty much every single battle. It wasn't doing things proper and you know what, we focused and stuck with it and Marty gave us a chance only being down 3-1 there. Our power play came up huge tonight, obviously. We kept working and we got some of those bounces that've been going against us it seems for the first part of the season."
Just when it looked like neither team would score in the second period, the Devils' hot power play struck. This time, Brunner found the rebound of a Bernier shot in the left circle and beat Rask with a backhander to the short side at 19:32 to cut the lead to 3-2.
"Again, I thought we had too many mediocre players tonight," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "And those things kind of create those situations."
|PPG - Torey Krug (4) ASST: Jarome Iginla (5), David Krejci (9)|
1 - 0 BOS
|Jarome Iginla (2) ASST: Dougie Hamilton (1), Tuukka Rask (1)|
2 - 0 BOS
|PPG - Adam Henrique (3) ASST: Eric Gelinas (1), Jaromir Jagr (6)|
2 - 1 BOS
|Milan Lucic (6) ASST: David Krejci (10), Jarome Iginla (6)|
3 - 1 BOS
|PPG - Damien Brunner (4) ASST: Steve Bernier (1), Andy Greene (2)|
3 - 2 BOS
|PPG - Marek Zidlicky (1) ASST: Patrik Elias (3), Michael Ryder (1)|
3 - 3 Tie
|PPG - Andy Greene (1) ASST: Damien Brunner (3), Jaromir Jagr (7)|
4 - 3 NJD
|Dainius Zubrus Tripping against Zdeno Chara|
|Johnny Boychuk Interference against Adam Henrique|
|Damien Brunner Interference against David Krejci|
|Reilly Smith Holding against Marek Zidlicky|
|Zdeno Chara Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Zdeno Chara Interference against Jaromir Jagr|
|Torey Krug Hi stick - double minor against Damien Brunner|
|Patrice Bergeron Delaying Game-Puck over glass|