Two nights removed from a sloppy outing against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins crushed the New Jersey Devils, 8-1, Thursday at TD Garden. Boston’s convincing win officially eliminated the lowly Devils from postseason contention.
Patrice Bergeron (goal, two assists) and David Pastrnak (three assists) each finished with a team-high three points, while Linus Ullmark recorded 25 saves for his 21st victory of the season.
Here’s what we learned following the B’s goal-scoring outburst during Tuukka Rask night on Causeway St.
Debuting McLaughlin pots first career goal
Freshly signed following a four-year career at Boston College, Marc McLaughlin wasted no time making his presence felt.
The Billerica native buried a beautiful goal on a 2-on-1 during the second period of his NHL debut. Trent Frederic threaded the needle to a wide-open McLaughlin, who promptly roofed it far side for Boston’s seventh goal of the night.
“It was pretty special,” McLaughlin said of his first career goal. “I feel like I’ve lived that moment a hundred million times down in my basement.”
McLaughlin subbed in for Craig Smith on the third line against the Devils. The local product didn’t look out of place alongside Frederic and Charlie Coyle.
Boston’s No. 26 finished his first outing with a goal, two shots and a plus-one rating in 13:01 of action.
Over four seasons with the Eagles, McLaughlin picked up 40 goals and 75 points, including a 21-goal season as a senior this past winter. McLaughlin’s success at The Heights prompted the Bruins to sign their latest NCAA free agent to a two-year entry-level contract earlier in March.
Six-goal second-period fuels B’s
The Bruins entered the middle frame ahead 2-1 on goals from Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk. But once the next 20 minutes ended, the B’s had stretched its lead to 8-1, marking their first six-goal period since Nov. 3, 1983, against the St. Louis Blues.
Brad Marchand’s pair of goals highlighted the offensive onslaught as five different Bruins found the back of the net in the second period.
Erik Haula started the scoring with his 10th of the season 2:22 into the stanza after Pastrnak’s initial shot bounced back into the slot, where Haula was there to chip it in.
Marchand snapped home his first of the night about four minutes later from the top of the faceoff circle to extend Boston’s lead to 4-1.
A Bergeron deflection on the power play pushed the B’s up to 5-1 before Marchand sniped home his 30th goal of the season after a skilled cross-ice pass from Mike Reilly moments later.
McLaughlin’s first of his career made it 7-1 before Taylor Hall put the icing on the cake with Boston’s eighth and final goal of the night with less than five minutes left in the middle 20.
The Bruins didn’t score in the third, but they didn’t need to. The second period offensive outburst put Bruce Cassidy’s club in a comfortable spot as they cruised to their 42nd win of the 2021-22 season.
Bruins’ new-look third defensive pair plays well
Josh Brown and Reilly slotted into the backend for Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton, with the former making his Bruins debut after arriving from Ottawa via trade and the latter returning after sitting as a healthy scratch for three games.
Brown picked up a fight early on when the game was still in reach.
Reilly also dropped the gloves following a Miles Wood hit on Charlie McAvoy in the first, and also showcased his offensive capabilities with an assist and a plus-two rating.
Given the injuries on the blueline over the past couple of postseasons, the Bruins will certainly take any and every available option given to them.
Hampus Lindholm continues to impress in a top-four role. But with Thursday’s lineup change, the Bruins will likely use a rotating cast of Forbort, Reilly, Clifton and Brown on their third D-pair during the final weeks of the regular season.
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