After ending the 2016 portion of this season’s NHL schedule with two divisional wins over the Buffalo Sabres, it looked as if the Boston Bruins had turned the page on a calendar year that saw them finish with a less than stellar 41-35-9 record. Against Buffalo, the Bruins looked like a team that was ready to make a move past the Ottawa Senators into second-place in the Atlantic Division. However, a lackluster performance that resulted in Boston losing to the Devils, 3-0, at New Jersey’s Prudential Center Monday evening, left many wondering which team is the real Boston Bruins.
Devils goaltender, Cory Schneider stopped all 22 Boston shots in his 200th NHL career game.
PA Parenteau, Sergey Kalinin, and Taylor Hall, scored the New Jersey goals.
“We just couldn’t muster up anything tonight,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “I thought we were flat from start to finish. We (coaching staff) thought we had our team ready but at the same time, it’s a two-way street here. You (players) have to be ready to play, have to be ready to put the effort (in).”
“I thought we lost a lot of battles, which is not what we normally do. We lost a lot of loose puck battles and determination for loose pucks around the net just wasn’t there tonight.”
Parenteau got the party started for New Jersey with his 11th goal of the season off a scramble for one of those loose pucks of which Julien spoke. Defenseman, and Boston College alum, Steve Santini put a shot on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask which Rask stopped but it left the netminder out of his crease. Hall put the rebound back at the Boston net but it hit the side of the goal before bouncing out to Parenteau and the nine-year NHL veteran did not miss with his shot. The goal gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead 4:12 into the game.
With 4.4 seconds to play in the second period, Boston thought it had tied the score on Brad Marchand’s bid from in tight to Schneider’s crease but the play was reviewed by the video replay judge in Toronto and it was deemed “no goal.”
Parenteau’s would be the only goal of the opening period. New Jersey finished the frame with a 13-12 shot advantage.
There would be no scoring in the second period although both teams had their chances. Each goaltender did his job keeping the nets clear of pucks. Schneider finished the period with five saves. Rask stopped seven Devils shots.
New Jersey continued to carry the play in the third period.
Kalinin picked up his second goal of the year just 1:44 into the final period. The play developed when John Merrill won another loose puck battle along the boards in his defensive zone. He sent the puck up to a streaking Miles Wood, who walked past a Boston backchecker turning the rush into a two on one into the Bruins zone. In an attempt to block Wood’s pass, Colin Miller dove only to have the pass go under him. The puck initially hit Kalinin’s skate but the Russian-born center got his stick on the puck and swatted it past Rask putting New Jersey ahead 2-0.
Hall closed out the scoring with 1:58 to play in the third period when he scored into an empty net after Julien pulled Rask in favor of a sixth skater. The goal resulted from Kalinin stripping the puck off the stick of Boston’s Ryan Spooner in the middle of the neutral zone. The puck slid to Hall, who skated uncontested into the Bruins zone and put the disc into the gaping net. It was Hall’s ninth goal of the season and first in his last 10 games.
“Great execution by the boys tonight,” Schneider said. “Hopefully it’s a good sign for 2017. Overall, I thought we defended really well and didn’t give them too many wide open looks, not a lot of odd-man rushes.”
Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron saw the game as one where his club’s effort needed to be better.
“It was pretty obvious from top to bottom that everyone didn’t show up and we can’t win, no matter who you’re playing in this League,” Bergeron said. “Teams are too good and that was a perfect example of that tonight. You have to show up every night and tonight was the opposite of that.”
Rask agreed with his teammate.
“You can lose games and sometimes take a lot of positives out of it despite the losses, but today I don’t think there is too much,” Rask said.
The Bruins return to action Thursday night at Boston’s TD Garden versus old friend Milan Lucic and the Edmonton Oilers (7:00 pm ET; TVA Sports, SN, NESN, NHL.TV)
The Bruins were shut out for the third time this season.
Despite the loss, Boston (20-16-4) remains in a tie with the Ottawa Senators for 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, however, the Bruins have played 40 games this season. Ottawa has played 37 games.
Boston went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill versus New Jersey. The Bruins are 2nd in the NHL with an 87.6 percent success rate in man-down situations.
The Bruins power play went 0-for-1 on the evening. It sits 27th in the League, having been successful on 14 percent of their man-advantage situations.
Boston is 4-4-2 in their last 10 games.
New Jersey’s Steve Santini, who like Schneider played his college hockey at Boston College, assisted on PA Parenteau’s goal. It was the first NHL point for Santini.
Parenteau has 6 goals in his last 10 games.
New Jersey’s John Merrill was a +3 on the evening vs Boston.
Devils centers Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson were scratched because of illness.
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.