The Boston Bruins defeated the New Jersey Devils, 5-3, Thursday night at the TD Banknorth Garden. Bruins defenseman Brad Stuart scored the game-winner from forwards Wayne Primeau and Brad Boyes via the power play at 2:17 of the third period.
"It was a great win," said B's veteran defenseman Jason York. "Everyone played really well tonight."
At the start of the first period, the Black & Gold came roaring out of the locker room thanks to the energy provided to the crowd by the first New England appearance of new Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Matsuzaka-san dropped a ceremonial first puck prior to the game and sent the B's on a tear, but by the time the horn sounded to end the period, the contest was tied 2-2.
"It was nice to see that," said Bruins head coach Dave Lewis of the fans' enthusiasm. "It was a nice welcome [for Matsuzaka]…it was a really good start."
Both Boyes (00:19) and Patrice Bergeron
(1:25) scored early on for the Bruins, while New Jersey's Patrik Elias (13:02) and Jamie Lagenbrunner (19:12) notched one each for the visitors in what could be characterized as one of the Bruins craziest periods of the season.
"It was a nice way to start the game…but they tied it up," said Lewis a-matter-of-factly.
"Our guys didn't falter [though]. They showed good patience, good poise. And they just continued on with what we wanted to do. And the result was a positive one," he said.
The second period was just as wild, as Boston continued their offensive onslaught and finished the period with 32 shots through two stanzas. But Devils goalie Scott Clemmensen kept the Bruins off the board through much of the session.
Bruins keeper Tim Thomas
, although tested to a lesser degree, made several spine-twisting stops to stymie his devilish opposition throughout the period as well.
"Both first period goals, I did not see them," explained Thomas. "I had to do less [tonight] than I've had to do in other situations. I think the team did a great job of making the right plays."
"You have to be in the right position defensively," said Zdeno Chara
, who played 30:13. "Then you have the ability to step up and prevent them from going to the net and jamming Timmy."
Clemmensen was finally bested, however, when Boston's Petr Tenkrat scored his fourth goal of the year, on the power play, from Paul Mara and Boyes at 13:02 of the second stanza.
The stalemate returned when New Jersey's Michael Rupp scored his second of the year, assisted by Erik Rasmussen and Jim Dowd, when he beat Thomas at 14:39 and sent the clubs to the locker rooms for the second break tied a 3.
When Stuart scored his 6th goal at 2:17 of the third period, he put the Bruins up 4-3 and Thomas, the Bruins MVP thus far this season, shut the door the rest of the way.
"He's an intelligent player," said Lewis of Stuart. "He's really clever and finds that open ice and you are seeing that right now."
Assistant captain Bergeron added an empty-net goal at 18:50.
Thomas seemed very relieved after the game.
"You know, I got pulled against them last time," explained the goalie. "Then, I got sick so I sat out a game.
"I still have a remnant of the bug, so I wasn't completely comfortable going into the game. And I was nervous because I wasn't completely comfortable.
"To get up in the third period, and then to realize 'Hey, I think we are going to win this game,' was a great feeling. I just wanted to get to the end of it so I could really enjoy the feeling," said Thomas.
All of the Bruins can enjoy the feeling for one day, and then the Bruins, now 15-12-2, host the Florida Panthers Saturday night, December 16th, at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets are available for all home games online by clicking here
, at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office, or by phone at 617.624.BEAR.