Lowell, Mass. -- The first ever NHL game played at the Tsongas Arena hardly proved memorable for the Boston Bruins as penalties put the local squad behind the eight ball early and the New Jersey Devils cruised to a 5-0 shutout victory in the new home of their American Hockey League counterparts – the Lowell Devils.
Goaltender Hannu Toivonen endured the onslaught created by eight Bruin penalties in the first period and the seven power play opportunities for the “home” team yielded two power play goals off 15 shots in just the first 20 minutes.
Winger Barry Tallackson quieted the pro-Bruin crowd of 4692 at 6:13 of the first stanza by capitalizing on a feed from Scott Gomez and Johnny Oduya. Gomez then silenced the Bruins faithful for the rest of the afternoon by scoring his own goal with just 1:37 remaining in the first, with assists going to Brian Rafalski and Oduya.
The intermission seemed to calm the nerves of the young Bruin squad, but another two power play goals came via Black and Gold penalties. Jamie Langenbrunner beat Toivonen at 8:14 (from Gomez, Tallackson) and Mike Rupp added another at 19:03 with help from Langenbrunner and Rafalski.
Toivonen, who demonstrated no rustiness from his long layoff from an ankle injury, was one of the Bruins bright spots. The young Finn made some spectacular saves while allowing 4 goals on 26 shots in 40 minutes. Mark Mowers, Martins Karsums, and Patrice Bergeron
provided what little offensive spark the Bruins could muster on Sunday.
Devils left wing Zach Parise closed out the scoring for New Jersey, when he bested Bruins netminder Jordan Sigalet, who took over for Toivonen at the beginning of the final period. Parise snapped a shot from the left side and beat Sigalet between the arm and body. Nicklas Bergfors and Oduya were given helpers on the play.
Although the score seemed ominous for the Bruins, who are trying to bounce back from a tough ’05-06 season, it must be noted that Boston played without defenseman Zdeno Chara
, forwards Glen Murray and Marc Savard
, and rookie phenom Phil Kessel, who were all healthy scratches.
Boston continues the exhibition schedule in Montreal on Tuesday, when they meet the Canadiens for the first of two in a row at the Bell Centre.