Boston 2, New Jersey 1
When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, October 20, 2016
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON – (Wire Service Report) – It is no secret how important Patrice Bergeron is to the Boston Bruins. In short, he is their best player, in all phases of the game. That is what made it fitting for him to score the winning goal in his first game of the season.
“He does so much for our team … having Bergy back is great,” linemate Brad Marchand said after setting Bergeron up for the winner with 1:15 left Thursday as the Bruins escaped with a 2-1 decision over the New Jersey Devils in Boston’s home opener.
Bergeron, who missed the first three games of the season with a lower-body injury, returned with a bang.
“He brings so many things to the table,” said Marchand, who tied the game with 9:47 remaining by recording his third goal in four games. “We do have a lot of chemistry. Every time I come around the net, I know he’s going to be hovering in that (high slot) area. So it’s good to get back to playing together and get closer to having our full lineup.”
Marchand found Bergeron up high, and Bergeron let a quick wrist shot go, flicking it at the net. Linemate David Pastrnak, covered by defenseman Kyle Quincey, crossed in front of Cory Schneider just as the puck got there, screening the goaltender. Schneider said the puck hit the knob of his stick.
The win was the third in four games for the Bruins, who went 2-1-0 on their opening trip without their most reliable forward. Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots in the Boston goal.
“I think we’re growing as a team,” said Rask, 3-0-0 with five goals against on the young season. “But I think right off the bat when everybody showed up (for training camp), we looked like we were ready to go, and everybody seemed to have the right mindset.”
Schneider, a local product who played at Boston College, was strong with 34 saves, but he fell to 1-4-2 against his hometown team.
The Devils (1-2-1) knew how close they came to getting a point.
“In this league, getting a point is a good night usually, and for us, you know every point matters when you come down the stretch,” New Jersey left winger Taylor Hall said. “So tonight is a game we’re going to have to improve on, and third periods have to be out best periods because you saw tonight’s Bruins — they turned it up in the third.”
After Bergeron scored, the Bruins had to survive the final 49.9 seconds after David Backes, making his home debut with his new team, took a roughing penalty. The Devils controlled the puck well but couldn’t get it past Rask, who has been sharp early despite playing with some aches and pains that caused him to miss the second game of the trip.
New Jersey took a 1-0 lead when Kyle Palmieri scored on the power play 4:14 into the third. The Devils, a young team that plays a tight checking game, succeeded in keeping the Bruins down until Marchand tied it.
Marchand, breaking down the right side on what looked like a harmless rush, used defenseman Andy Greene as a screen and fired a wrist shot through Greene’s legs and past Schneider on his right side.
“I was trying to shoot through his legs,” Marchand said. “I wasn’t trying to pick that corner, but I was trying to shoot through his legs and hope it went on net and either it went in or we got a rebound and try to create something.”
Both Marchand and Pastrnak are a league-leading plus-9 through four games. Backes, who centered the two wingers with Marchand out, moved to the right wing on David Krejci’s second line.
NOTES: With C Patrice Bergeron back after missing the first three games with a lower body injury, the Bruins sent C Austin Czarnik to AHL Providence. … Bobby Orr, whose NHL career began 50 years ago this week, and Bruins legend Milt Schmidt, 98, dropped the ceremonial first puck. … Devils G Cory Schneider, who hails from nearby Marblehead and played at Boston College, said, “It’s always special” to come home, adding, “Obviously it’s become a little bit more routine now but it’s still fun to be back. I feel like I was just here from the summer. Sometimes when I’m not here as often it’s a little bit different. But I don’t get to spend a lot of time here in the fall.” … The Devils hosted 2012 draft pick Alexander Kerfoot, currently at Harvard, at their morning skate. … New Jersey hosts the Minnesota Wild and Boston the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. … Last season, the Bruins opened with three straight games at home and lost all three.