The New Jersey Devils, who ended a six-game losing streak by beating the host Florida Panthers 4-2 on Wednesday, will look to make it back-to-back victories when they skate against the visiting Boston Bruins on Friday.
New Jersey’s Jesper Bratt scored twice against the Panthers and Mackenzie Blackwood made 34 saves for the Devils, who were 0-5-1 in their previous six games. Blackwood, who has missed time with a knee injury, made his first NHL start since Nov. 3 at Edmonton.
“It feels great to win,” Blackwood said. “The boys have been playing hard and deserved a better result in the games we played. It gets a little difficult when you pile up a couple losses in a row. Sometimes guys grip their stick a little too tight, panic. We did a good job playing the right way.”
New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff added, “That was real important. We needed a win. We’ve played several really good games inside (the skid) and couldn’t find ways to get the puck in the back of the net.”
The Bruins completed a 4-0-1 homestand by beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Thursday. Boston improved its NHL-best home record to 18-0-2.
Nick Foligno collected two points in the win, including a goal that broke a 2-2 tie with 8:52 to play. David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk also scored for the Bruins, who trailed 2-0 after the first period. Boston received a 25-save performance from Jeremy Swayman.
Foligno assisted on Pastrnak’s 22nd goal of the season. DeBrusk tied the game during a Boston power play with five minutes remaining in the second period. Pastrnak assisted on DeBrusk’s goal.
“I thought the way he (Foligno) played in the second period really turned the game around for us,” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said.
Swayman said, “The guys took initiative in the second period, obviously. It’s our locker room in there and the leadership stepped up and said, ‘We need to do better.’ The rest of the game they were (directing) shots to the corners and helped me see pucks the whole time, so a lot of the credit goes to the boys in front of me.”
The Bruins own the top penalty-killing percentage in the NHL (85.3 percent), and they killed off both of Winnipeg’s power plays on Thursday.
New Jersey could be short-handed on the blue line against the Bruins. Defenseman John Marino sustained an upper-body injury during the second period of the Devils’ 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday and sat out the final period that night. He didn’t dress for the Wednesday win against Florida.
Devils defenseman Ryan Graves was injured when he fell awkwardly into the boards early in the first period of the Wednesday game. He crawled to the bench and didn’t return to the game, leaving the Devils with five defensemen.
“You have to give that group a lot of credit,” Ruff said of his defense corps. “The five guys that finished the game, in back-to-back games, a lot of ice time, a tough loss last night and just to bounce back, get in real late and end up playing the way they did.”
–Field Level Media