The Boston Bruins, hoping to continue the fine play which earned them an emotional victory over their archrival Saturday night in the TD Banknorth Garden, had to deal with a different environment on Sunday when they faced the patient defense of the New Jersey Devils. However, thanks to goals from defenseman Aaron Ward, and forwards Marco Sturm, Brandon Bochenski and P.J. Axelsson, as well as a terrific effort from goalie Joey MacDonald, the Bruins won the game, 4-1, and took two valuable points home to Boston.
"It feels great to get that first one off my back," said MacDonald about his first B's victory in his first start for Boston. "I haven't played in a little bit so it was good to get that chance and the guys played great."
The discipline, playmaking and physical play that had characterized the Bruins win over the Habs on Saturday traveled with them on the charter to New Jersey, as the Black & Gold played a near flawless first period of hockey versus the second ranked team in the Eastern Conference.
"The guys…were really dedicated to the game plan, especially in the neutral zone," explained Bruins head coach Dave Lewis. "And we got a great contribution from some (other) guys.
"It was a great game for Joey, first time in, the guys played hard for him."
With new backup netminder MacDonald in goal to spell Tim Thomas
, and veteran Jason York taking a spot on the blue line in the place of first year NHLer Bobby Allen, the B's got off to a good start when Ward threw the puck on the Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, beating the all-world backstop from 60-feet at 12:26 of the first session.
The second period was another gem for Boston, whose disciplined play stymied the Devils through the second session and inspired the crowd in Continental Arena to serenade their home club with boos as New Jersey left the rink for the second intermission.
It was the Bruins Sturm who garnered the lions share of credit for the Devils fans' sour mood as he scored a shorthanded goal at just :19 and MacDonald kept New Jersey off the board for another period and had 17 saves through 40-minutes.
"Early in the game he made some key saves," said Lewis of his goalie's steady play. "He came in and played well."
After the break, MacDonald continued his stingy puck stopping until the 6:40 mark of the third period when New Jersey's Michael Rupp finally dented the Bruins twine with his fourth goal of the season at the 6:40 mark.
But thanks to a steal engineered by forward Stanislav Chistov, and a great effort by rookie sensation Phil Kessel, the red-hot Bochenski gave back Boston's two-goal lead with his goal at 8:31 of the third.
MacDonald, who earned the game's first star with 26 total saves, kept the red light off for the rest of the period and Axelsson added an empty net goal to ice the victory at 19:18 left in regulation.
Boston next sees action versus the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.