NEWARK - The Bruins have been one of the league's best five-on-five teams all season long. But it was their special teams units that carried them on Sunday against the Devils.
Boston potted two shorthanded goals to highlight a 7-for-7 performance on the kill, while also grabbing a power-play tally during a 5-3 victory over New Jersey at the Prudential Center.
"Penalty kill was real good. They had some looks with the amount that we had to kill. We got a big power-play goal to help us and [two shorties] as well. Ends up being the difference in the game," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Normally we're a very good five-on-five team, so we're fine with that game, but our special teams - tip of the hat to the guys out there."
Video: Krug scores twice, McQuaid nets winner in 5-3 victory
New Jersey landed just eight shots across their seven power plays - four of which came in the third period - but the opportunities they did get required the utmost attention of Anton Khudobin. Boston's backup netminder was immense all night, stopping 35 of the 38 shots he faced, including a penalty shot from Travis Zajac and a breakaway from Taylor Hall in the first period alone.
"He was important. The last couple games he's been in he's done a great job coming through when we're a little sloppy and a little sleepy," said Torey Krug, who potted two goals - one on the power play and one shorthanded.
"You need your goalie to be your biggest penalty killer on certain nights and he was tonight. He definitely made those stops when he could. That penalty shot in the first period was big, too. That doesn't go unnoticed."
Video: BOS@NJD: Khudobin stones Zajac on a penalty shot
Boston squandered three one-goal leads, but finally grabbed hold for good on Adam McQuaid's first goal of the season with 8:05 remaining. Riley Nash carried the puck up the wall and nudged it to McQuaid at the right point, where he fired an off-balance one-timer towards the net with both skates in the neutral zone.
With Danton Heinen parked out front providing a screen, the puck tipped off of old friend Drew Stafford in the slot and careened over the blocker of Devils goalie Eddie Lack. It was McQuaid's first goal in nearly a calendar year, with his last coming on Feb. 12, 2017 against Montreal.
"Good for him, happy that he's rewarded," said Cassidy. "He's not a typical offensive guy, but when he gets it he tends to put it back below the goal line or on net, makes the play that's in front of him. We got a lucky break on the way in, but throw enough at the net hard a few of them will rattle around for you.
"Adam's a great team guy. For him to get the game-winner, I think every guy in that room was very excited for him."
Video: BOS@NJD: McQuaid nets point shot to give Bruins lead
Boston grabbed its first shorthanded goal of the night on a fluky play from Krug in the first period. The blue liner was deep in the New Jersey end and picked up a wayward Brad Marchand shot in the corner, before turning towards the back of the net. He tried to slip a pass to David Krejci out front, but Nico Hischier and Mirco Mueller swatted at the puck and batted it by Lack to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 6:28 to go in the period.
"Just lucky. Was trying to give Krejci a good pass and have a chance to score a goal," said Krug, whose tally was the first shorthanded goal of his career. "Their D made a good play to stop the pass, but got a lucky bounce for it to go in under the pad. Just trying to be active and makes plays."
Miles Wood, fresh out of the penalty box responded less than three minutes later with a breakaway tally to tie the game, before the Bruins struck for a second shorty via another fortunate bounce. With Lack out of his crease to play the puck, Tim Schaller swooped in and pickpocketed Hall behind the net.
With Lack racing back to the net mouth, Schaller jammed home a wraparound with just three seconds to go in the frame. The goal was upheld after review giving Boston a 2-1 advantage after the opening 20 minutes.
"I knew there wasn't much time left and the goalie was out of position, was lucky enough to slide over the goal line a little bit," said Schaller, who also had a highlight reel tally in New York on Wednesday. "Luckily, for the most part, they don't ask how. You don't have to hit the back of the net. Just gonna keep doing my thing and hopefully it keeps up."
Video: BOS@NJD: Schaller nets wraparound SHG on his backhand
After Hall converted a Hischier feed to tie the game 31 seconds into the second period, Krug notched his second of the game with a power-play blast only 1:28 later. Following a Patrice Bergeron faceoff win, Krug one-timed a feed from Ryan Spooner (his 100th career assist) by Lack to once again give the Bruins the lead.
"Torey's found his game the second half," said Cassidy. "Tends to be his MO throughout most of his career. He's got good jump now and he's feeling the game well. The puck has eyes for him, but he's hitting the net more often."
Boston squandered yet another lead when Kyle Palmieri beat Khudobin at 11:07 of the second. For the second consecutive night, the Bruins struggled mightily defensively, particularly over the game's first 40 minutes.
"I don't think we managed the puck well, clearly that was a spillover from last night again," said Cassidy. "We're getting away from what we do well, which is be hard to play against, not give up odd-man rushes. Second [thing] is they have a lot of team speed and they used it to their advantage. We weren't able to slow them down in the appropriate areas early on and at the blue line.
"Our goaltender came through when he had to. But we were a little too goaltender reliant the last two nights."
Fortunately for the Bruins, who have lost just twice in regulation over their last 25 games, they have two of the hottest goalies in the game.
"Good to get back on the winning track," said McQuaid. "Doby played great, he gave us an opportunity and kept us in the game. By no means our best effort or our best game. But at the same time, after last night, moving on to today with the back-to-back, a step in the right direction."
NOTES: Noel Acciari returned after missing the last seven games with a lower-body injury. He landed two hits in 13:30 of ice time. "Felt good. A lot better than I thought I'd feel, so that's a good sign and keep getting better from that…as a line we want to get more going in the offensive zone and that will come over the next couple games."
Video: BOS@NJD: Krug blasts PPG for his second of the game