If Tuesday night’s game was a preview of a future playoff series, this spring is going to be something special.
In a battle of the only two teams in the Eastern Conference that have yet to lose a game in regulation, the Bruins and Devils continued that trend in a 2-1 Boston victory in a shootout at TD Garden.
On a night when the goalies stole the show, that’s what the game came down to — and even then, it was barely enough.
Bruins forward Brad Marchand slipped a shot past Devils goalie Johan Hedberg, five-hole, in the sixth round of the shootout and New Jersey defensemen Marek Zidlicky was stoned by Boston goalie Tuukka Rask on the other end, giving the Bruins their third consecutive win.
New Jersey moved to 3-0-2, retaining its Atlantic Division lead; Boston improved to 5-0-1.
Hedberg, who re-signed with the Devils this past summer, made 27 stops for the Devils and Rask finished with 25 for the Bruins.
The Devils took a 1-0 lead in the second period when David Clarkson tipped home a shot from Zidlicky on the power play. It was Clarkson’s fourth goal of the season and he now has registered a point in all five games this season.
Hedberg held the door shut for most of the third period, but Nathan Horton beat him on a wrist shot late in the third to tie the game at one and send the teams into overtime. It was the third consecutive overtime game for the Devils, who beat the Philadelphia Flyers last week and lost to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night.
After Boston’s Tyler Seguin beat Hedberg in the first round of the shootout, he was forced to do it again because something had been thrown at Hedberg on the ice during the shot. Seguin beat Hedberg again, switching to his back-hand to lift the puck into the net.
Ilya Kovalchuk answered for the Devils in the first round, ripping a wrist shot past Rask, but that would be all the scoring for either team until the sixth round.
Last season, the Devils went 12-4 in the shootout behind a monster line of Kovalchuk, Elias, and Zach Parise. But, with Parise’s departure to the Minnesota Wild, Travis Zajac took his place and was poke checked by Rask with a chance to win the game in the third round.
With five games played, the Devils have earned eight out of a possible 10 points and hold a two-point divisional lead over the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Devils will be returning home to host the New York Islanders on Thursday, in an attempt to get off this two-game losing skid.