BOSTON, MA – As he skated onto the ice for his first ever game as a Boston Bruins, Jaromir Jagr stopped near center ice to stretch. He was greeted by a familiar face—Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur—whom Jagr saw plenty of during the 16 seasons he spent in the Atlantic Division.
In the end, it was Jagr who came up with the decisive moment against a longtime foe, as his first tally in his first game in the Black and Gold was enough as the Bruins held on to a 1-0 win against the Devils.
“The guys did everything that we asked them to do but score,” said Devils head coach Peter DeBoer. “You can’t fault their effort or their execution in the game plan. That’s a good team, tough building and I thought that we played a heck of a road game.”
Jagr’s goal came at the beginning of the second period. A cross-ice pass from Brad Marchand deflected off Jagr’s skate and through the legs of Brodeur.
“Sometimes you have to be lucky to score, and I think that’s the first time I scored with my leg I guess,” said Jagr in the postgame. “When I was 25, I wouldn’t have liked that goal, but at 41 I’ll take anything right now.”
Brodeur was left helpless to watch the puck trickle in of the fortuitous bounce.
“For me, I was looking for the guy backdoor when [Brad Marchand] made that pass, and I know [Jaromir] Jagr didn’t really,” said the Devils goaltender. “I don’t think he was looking at the puck. He was kind of just trying to make interference for the puck to go through him, and it hit his skate.”
DeBoer was quick to dismiss any notion of Boston coming away with a cheap two points.
“Bad bounce, but you make your own bounces,” DeBoer said. “They are a good team. They are going to score some goals.”
The Bruins opened up the night slowly, struggling to find their legs, as the Devils outshot the B’s 17-6 in the opening frame. Tuukka Rask stood tall in net for Boston, turning away New Jersey early, and keeping the game scoreless.
“He was good tonight, you know, he was one of the reasons we won, obviously,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “He made the big saves when he had to and kept us in the lead at times when they could have gotten themselves back into the game.”
After Jagr’s goal, however, the Bruins began to find some momentum, as Boston took 13 shots in the middle frame. With a more active forecheck, Boston was able to apply pressure to New Jersey and even up the scoring chances.
“They had some moments there where they were taking it to us, but that’s going to happen in the game,” said Devil’s defenseman Andy Greene. “There’s going to be highs and lows.”
About halfway through the second, the Bruins found themselves on their first and only power play of the game. With Jagr thrust onto the first unit, the Bruins mustered a number of good scoring chances, with Jagr orchestrating the action from below the goal line, but Brodeur was able to keep the Devil’s deficit at one.
“He’s very strong on the puck, always makes great plays,” said B’s forward Brad Marchand. “We just got to give it to him and skate around and he’ll find us.”
In the third period, Rask and Brodeur traded saves, as both goaltenders kept their respective nets empty. Rask shined most when it mattered late, and finished off his first shutout of the season, a 40-save performance.
“[He] made a lot of great saves tonight and he gives us a chance to win,” Marchand said. “It would’ve been a different game if he wasn’t in the net, and we’re definitely lucky to have him.”