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Griffith's Extra Effort Powers Bruins to 4-2 Win Over Devils

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON - By now you've already seen the goal by Seth Griffith.

The highlight reel tally proved to be the game-winner en route to the Bruins' 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night at TD Garden. It helped them pick up their fifth straight win.

After being hemmed in the Bruins' zone, Griffith went on his right knee to block a shot from the left point by New Jersey defenseman Bryce Salvador. Absorbing the puck and then rushing through center ice, Griffith nearly split the defense before being double-teamed by Marek Zidlicky and Salvador.

Still racing towards the net, Griffith got around Salvador and out-muscled Zidlicky just before the blue paint. With his back to the net, Griffith then found the puck on his backhand and flipped it between his legs and under Cory Schneider's left pad. It's a goal that shouldn't have been given up, but Griffith is the one who kept his eye on the puck and found a way to get it through.

The goal gave Boston a 3-2 lead with 1:59 left in the second period, and sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy, roaring when the replay was shown.

Chris Kelly made sure to watch the replay as well.

"It's one of those great goals where he blocks a shot and goes down and wins a battle - you didn't realize how nice it was until you saw it on the replay," Kelly said postgame. "It was a great goal by him. Obviously it's nice to be the game-winner, too."

A few questions into Kelly's time in the locker room speaking with reporters, Griffith walked into the room for his own media session. Most of the reporters parted ways with the alternate captain so that they could hear what the 21-year-old game-winning-goal scorer had to say.

"See ya guys," Kelly laughed as the scrum around him dissipated, knowing full well that Griffith was the story of the night.

"Just my strength on the puck," Griffith told the crowd of reporters, on what he liked most about his goal. "It wasn't going my way a little bit in the first so I was happy to just stay strong on the puck and lucky enough the bounce went my way."

"Just work in all three zones. I was obviously happy with the blocked shot - it just goes to show, you do stuff like that and it pays off."

Griffith's teammates and bench boss appreciated the extra effort.

"I think that that whole effort, from the time he blocked it, to picking up some speed and really battling hard between the two Ds, and then staying on it - that last effort there, of using his stick between his legs there to bank that puck in, it was a great effort," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.

"I think it really motivated the whole bench. It was a nice effort from his part."

The Bruins had carried most of the possession time early in the second period, while holding a 2-1 lead off a power-play goal from Carl Soderberg and Patrice Bergeron's second goal in as many games.

That momentum started to shift, and Jaromir Jagr tied it up with seven minutes left in the middle frame. The game looked suited to head to the third period still knotted at 2-2.

But Griffith started off a sequence of two goals in just 1:20. Reilly Smith added insurance with 38.6 on the clock in the second, putting home a perfect no-look pass from Patrice Bergeron.

"We were definitely under pressure for maybe four or five minutes in a row and Griff kind of changed that whole thing at the end of the period," said Smith. "It kind of changed the momentum at least and gave us a little step ahead, going into the third period."

"He makes a single man effort and does a great job burying it."

While the Bruins were impressed with the finish, they also commended the simple play that started the sequence.

"To be honest, I think I'm more defensive minded – I think the blocked shot is the best part of that," said Kelly. "That's the one that took the most thought, I think. The other part I think was just maybe a reaction."

"He got in the lane on purpose - so, to me, there was some intent and some thought put behind that, you know, getting in that shot lane - to kill that play and then to get his feet moving quickly and obviously score that nice goal."

With four NHL goals now in 12 career games - all this season - Griffith is getting rewarded for simple plays and an ounce of extra effort. His last goal against Minnesota saw him drive to the net from behind the Bruins' blueline and pot a perfect feed from Gregory Campbell while getting knocked and flying through the air.

This goal will be another one for Campbell to remember.

"To score a highlight goal like that originates with just a simple, honest, hardworking play," Campbell said. "When you sacrifice yourself and do the right thing, it pays off. In this case, it paid off right away for him."

"I'm sure he didn't envision what was to follow to happen, but he was rewarded."

"I look at all the replays. In this case, it was a pretty goal - so I wanted to see it right away," he added.

Other teammates had plenty of comments about Griffith postgame, too.

Rask gave a goalie's perspective, and how in a situation like that, it's tough to react and sometimes the puck squeezes through, letting in a "bad goal."

Torey Krug (who slotted back into the lineup after missing four games with his broken finger) joked that he would never let Griffith do that to him in practice.

Bergeron was the first to congratulate Griffith after the goal. He also made sure to give him a strong high-five of approval as the pair crossed paths in the Bruins' tunnel postgame, after they were announced as the game's First and Third Stars.

"He just said, 'That was a sick play,'" Griffith said of Bergeron's congratulatory remarks. "He's one of the guys that talks to me all the time and he's making me more confident in the room."

"It was a great play by him and a great effort and it doesn't go unnoticed," Bergeron said. "It's not just the goal, but it's really the details."

"I think that's something really important in hockey - not giving up on any play, and always trying to battle to get the puck. That is a perfect example."

The Black and Gold didn't have their best third period in the win, playing conservatively and being outshot 14-3, but they held up long enough to give Griffith his spotlight postgame.

"[His effort's] been good. That's why he's still here and that's why he's still on that line, because he's been good," said Julien. "We understand that there's some areas that he's trying to work on to get better at, but he's been good, there's been no denying that."

Smaller than most of his fellow NHL players (listed at 5-foot-9) and in only his second year pro, Griffith needs to keep working on his strength, battling and positioning, but he's pushing along.

"You know, he's done it since day one, first shift, the first game he was here," said Smith. "It seems like no matter what, he has good nose to the net and he's doing a good job finding it, especially in key moments of games, and he was definitely a difference maker [on Monday night]."

While the Bruins aren't satisfied with their overall game, even amidst a five-game win streak, they can be satisfied with Griffith's continued progression.

"Obviously I'm happy but I realize there's still a lot of work to be done," Griffith said. "I'm just trying to come to the rink and get better every day."

By doing that, he won't be watching replays of his goal all over the Internet, social media and on TV, like fans, reporters and even his teammates.

If the goal comes up during the team's video review, maybe he'll see it. But he'll mostly be zeroing in the parts of his game he needs to improve.

And those viewings don't particularly include staying up at night to watch his goal highlights.

"No," said Griffith. "I'm not one of those guys."

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