12 Players Grab a Point, None Bigger Than Marc McLaughlin’s first.
Boston, MA – After getting battered by the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 on Tuesday, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said changes were coming to the Bruins lineup. On Thursday, those changes paid dividends as Boston put the visiting New Jersey Devils through the wringer in an 8-1 laugher in front of 17,850 at TD Garden.
“We weren’t happy with the game Tuesday, we tried to build some good habits in the third period,” said Cassidy. “We had a good working practice yesterday and carry it into tonight, and I think we did.”
“I think it helped, that New Jersey was trying to be physical early on,” Cassidy added. “That’s probably the game that we needed to get our attention as well. It worked out both ways.”
It also helped that the Devils are 8-23-2 on the road and lost their last eight away from the Prudential Center.
The highlights were plentiful as 12 Bruins players notched points, and newcomers provided some pop as Boston pulled away in the second period on six goals, three of which came in a 3:03 span midway through the period.
The feel-good story of the game was the NHL debut of Bruins forward Marc McLaughlin. The Billerica, MA native and four-year star at Boston College signed as a free agent after completing his season at Chestnut Hill on March 15, 2022. McLaughlin scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot in the second period.
“Well, did you see the bench?” asked Cassidy about McLaughlin’s goal. “It tells you about our team. The kid’s only been here a little bit, but he’s worked. I think every guy on the bench was excited for him. He’s a hard-working kid. Getting your first goal in front of your parents and family is a nice thing. Everyone was happy for him. He earned it; he played well.”
Matt Grzelcyk opened the scoring just fifty-seven seconds into the game when he flung a wrist shot from the right point that beat New Jersey goalie Nico Daws at the near post. Grzelcyk’s fourth was unassisted.
Defenseman Josh Brown, who Boston acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline for his size and toughness, put that toughness to use on his second shift as a Bruin when he dropped the gloves with fellow heavyweight Mason Geertsen at 2:56.
Bruins defenseman Mike Reilly, reinserted into the lineup after missing the previous three games, then wrestled with Devils forward Miles Wood after Wood dumped Charlie McAvoy behind the Bruins net at 4:16.
“It’s good for Mike (Reilly) to do some of that stuff,” Cassidy said. “When it’s your turn, it’s your turn. The greasy hard parts of hockey. whether it’s blocking a shot, coming to a teammate’s aid, taking a hit to make a play. He’s been out of the lineup, probably going to do whatever he can to stay in. It’s good to see the team coming together this last little stretch and situations like this.”
The Devils tied the game at 1-1 when Jack Hughes sniped a shot past Linus Ullmark from the goal line at 11:02. Hughes deposited the puck in the far corner between Ullmark (25 saves) and the crossbar for his 25th.
— PuckingOff™ (Jason Scales) (@PuckingOff) March 31, 2022
Boston regained the lead at 16:09 when Jake DeBrusk dished to Patrice Bergeron and then crashed the net to scoop up the rebound of Bergeron’s shot that Daws blockered away. DeBrusk deked Daws backhand to forehand and tucked the puck between the left post and Daws’ leg for his 18th.
Erik Haula kicked off a six-goal second period when he banged in a David Pastrnak rebound at 2:22. Pastrnak carried the puck out from behind the net and fired off a shot that Daws stopped, but Haula chipped the loose puck top corner to make it 3-1 Bruins.
Brad Marchand added the first of his two goals on the night at 6:33 when he snapped a low-to-high pass from DeBrusk past Daws from the top of the left circle. The goal was Marchand’s, but DeBrusk’s skating made the play possible as he motored around the Devils’ zone with and without the puck before finding Marchand for his 29th.
“It was important, these games don’t happen often,” said Marchand. “We did some good things but at the same time, puck luck and we got the good bounces. Capitalized on our opportunities. It’s good game but we have to let this one go and prepare for the next one now.”
Boston grabbed a power-play goal at 9:01 with New Jersey’s Jesper Boqvist off for a Face-off Violation. Bergeron redirected a Pastrnak slapshot through Daws’ legs to make it 5-1 Bruins and chase the Devils goalie from the game. Daws allowed five goals on 20 shots for 15 saves in 22:30 of action.
In came Jon Gilles (17 saves on 20 shots) for the Devils, and in went the puck on the Bruins’ first shot on Gilles when Marchand netted his 30th goal at 10:34. Again, solid hustle by DeBrusk, namely a punishing check on Devils defenseman Ty Smith led to a turnover in the Devils’ zone. Bergeron corralled the puck from a hurt Smith and fired it out to Reilly at the top of the left circle. Reilly carried down low before rifling a cross-ice pass to a wide-open Marchand at the right face-off dot for the one-timer.
“That’s playoff hockey right there,” said Marchand of DeBrusk’s hit on Smith and his performance all game. “Jake has found his game. There seems to be a weight lifted off his shoulders. I think he’s just happy to be here (after signing a new contract recently). He’s been playing better and that’s is the type of hockey we’re going to need going forward.”
The Bruins’ seventh goal came courtesy of a one-timer from McLaughlin on his first NHL shot. The 6′-0″ 198 lb. 22-year-old raced down the ice after Trent Frederic blocked a shot at the blue line, picked up the loose puck, and set off on a two-on-one with his new linemate. Frederic feathered a pass across to McLaughlin just inside the left circle that McLaughlin hammered top corner past Gilles from his knee to blow the roof off the Garden at 12:04.
The things that dreams are made of. Marc McLaughlin’s 1st @NHL goal in his debut. Billerica, MA and @BC_MHockey product living the dream. #NHLBruins 7-1 on #NJDevils w/ 3 goals in 3:03 of 2nd. #NJDvsBOS pic.twitter.com/sAHcnHmXuv
— PuckingOff™ (Jason Scales) (@PuckingOff) April 1, 2022
“It was pretty special,” said McLaughlin of his goal. “I feel like I’ve lived that moment as a kid 100 millions times down in my basement. For it to come true here, to get in a game and contribute with a goal is really special.”
“Freddie (Trent Frederic) had a good block, started there in the d-zone,” McLaughlin said. “Freddie got his feet moving and made a great pass right in my wheel-house. All I had to do is shoot it in.”
“I feel that’s what it’s all about, is finding a rythym,” said the former Eagle. “One game is one game, you have to come back and have a solid effort too, if I get the chance to go back in.”
Taylor Hall added an insurance to the insurance goal at 16:12 when he tapped a Pastrnak dish past an out-stretched Gilles at the top of the crease to make it 8-1. The goal was Hall’s 16th.
Marchand appeared to score a hat-trick at 18:59 of the second when he beat Gilles, but the officials immediately waved it off for offsides on Boston.
“That’s how it goes sometimes,” said Marchand of not getting the hat-trick.
The Bruins (42-20-5) will face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets (32-31-5) on Saturday at 7:00 pm EST at TD Garden. The Devils (24-38-5) are out of playoff contention after the loss to Boston. They next play on Saturday against the Florida Panthers (46-15-6) at 12:30 pm EST.