Bruins too hot for Devils
Bergeron sparks sizzling offense
NEWARK - The new year is all about fresh starts, getting back in shape, returning to tried-and-true ways, and shedding bad habits and poor choices.
Well, the Bruins did all of that last night in their first game on the 2012 calendar and left the Prudential Center with a tidy and convincing 6-1 win over the Devils. After looking listless and slightly unkempt in their 4-2 loss at Dallas New Year’s Eve, they returned to strong fundamentals (including 30-for-42 proficiency at the faceoff dot) and balanced scoring en route to posting their 25th win this season.
Patrice Bergeron scored twice (Nos. 8 and 9) and Milan Lucic, Dennis Seidenberg, and David Krejci all chipped in 2 points apiece as the Bruins erased an early 1-0 deficit and went on a Patriots-like unanswered scoring run of a half-dozen goals before a disillusioned crowd of 15,832.
The killing strike went to Bergeron with 4:02 gone in the second when he raced in alone on a breakaway and undressed fellow Quebecer Martin Brodeur with a doorstep sweep to boost the lead to 3-1. Bergeron’s breakout came just as a Devils power play ended, and rather than pulling even on the man-advantage the Devils were pointed toward the EXIT sign by Bergeron’s dogged determination in blocking a whiffed shot by Adam Larsson and then his artistic finish to the breakaway.
“I was trying to get in the shooting land there and I blocked it,’’ said Bergeron. “Then I just tried to get some speed on the breakaway, so I could separate from the defenseman, and luckily I did that.’’
The 3-1 lead held up through the remainder of the period and Bergeron scored the lead goal in the third, with 2:13 gone, the start of a three-goal explosion that included strikes by David Krejci (8) and strongman Shawn Thornton, who began the evening by trading big right hands in a prolonged scrap with Cam Janssen at the 2:07 mark of the first. All he needed was an assist and he would have completed a Gordie Howe hat trick.
“I try not to put too much stock in getting on the scoresheet,’’ said Thornton, his goal at 14:23 of the third only his third strike this season. “I think the other things our line does are far more important.’’
After David Clarkson provided the 1-0 lead for New Jersey on a power-play tally at 4:24 of the first, Greg Campbell knotted it less than four minutes later when an Andrew Ference blast ricocheted in off of his right skate. New Jersey’s lead time was truncated at 3:51, and soon began the unraveling, sparked by a rare Nathan Horton goal at 13:17 of the first. The struggling power forward moved to the open left post and banged in only his fifth point in 12 games, a forehand pop off a nifty Krejci feed across the slot.
“I’ve been fighting it a little bit,’’ acknowledged Horton. “But it’s a long year, and that happens to just about everybody. I haven’t been scoring, but we’ve been winning.’’
Beyond the spread on the scoreboard, Boston’s best winning of the night came at the faceoff dot, in the form of a mesmerizing 71 percent win factor. Krejci won 13 of 17 drops and Chris Kelly was a perfect 6 for 6. It reached the point by the third period that New Jersey pivots would have been wise to approach the circle without their sticks and just try to kick the biscuit down ice. Proud veteran Patrik Elias went a woeful 2 for 11 (18 percent) and rookie Adam Henrique was schooled, too, going an anemic 3 for 12.
“I think it was 9 and 0 at one point,’’ said Krejci. “I felt good. You are better to start with the puck and try to do something with it than to be chasing it all the time. That’s not much fun.’’
All in all, it was a vastly better performance than last week’s OT win in Phoenix and the loss in Big D. Like many of their wins in November and December, when they were the NHL’s hottest club, last night had the Bruins sound in all three zones, brilliant in the circle, and with the advantage in net, in which Tim Thomas turned back 30 shots while Brodeur blocked only 21 of 27. Overall, the Bruins fired 53 shots to New Jersey’s 46 and the Bruins landed 23 hits to their opponent’s 19.
“As the game went on, I thought we got better,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “That fourth goal [Bergeron for the 4-1 lead] really hurt them, and from there, I think we slowly took control of the game.’’
“Pretty disturbing,’’ said New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer, sounding like many of the coaches whose teams have been dismantled by the Bruins this season. “It was a tough night to stand there . . . not a lot of good things happened.’’