For the first time in November, the Bruins didn't have the money in the bag towards the end of the game. Fans grew tense and wary and Cam Neely practically leaped for joy after watching Benoit Pouliot score the game winning goal with just over three minutes to play in the third period.
But the Devils have been a team that knows comeback, and have done it so many times already this season, and even twice in tonight's game.
After David Clarkson scored the first goal of the night, netting a one-timer on a 5-on-3 power play that broke a 0-22 skid for the Devils, the Bruins matched it four minutes later.
Gregory Campbell started the play down low, fighting off the New Jersey defense just to the right of Johan Hedberg. He tossed a shot on net, and the defense ended up mishandling the puck. The turnover resulted in a loose puck in front of the net, which a crashing Chris Kelly found coming through the slot and put through the five hole of Hedberg to tie the game at one a piece.
Then the Bruins found the lead, and the game opened up in the third period. After Brad Marchand had been benched in the last half of the second period after taking an ill-advised roughing penalty in the second, he came out and the third and immediately showed that he was in it to help his team. Just six seconds into the final frame he took the puck off the rebound, slipped through the defense, and found himself on a breakaway. And six seconds later, the puck went from his stick to the back of the net.
"That's the way to respond, right?" Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "I guess [Marchand] just said, 'bench me anytime and I’ll respond,' huh? No, I mean I know he was pretty upset with himself after that penalty. A penalty in the offensive zone is a tough one to take and I think he knows that. He did his time and then he came out and he did what he had to do to help the team out after that."
That goal by Marchand was Boston's fastest goal from the start of a period since Ray Bourque scored six seconds into the third period on Nov. 6, 1983 against Winnipeg.
Soon, it became pinball hockey and both teams were switching off goals back and forth. Twice the Bruins took the lead with the Devils responding soon there after. Goals from Marchand and Thornton were soon washed with two goals from Nick Palmieri, leaving the game tied 3-3 with over 13 minutes left to play.
And then the most unlikely player found the right time to score. Not Lucic. Not Seguin. But Benoit Pouliot took center stage, flipping a little bouncing puck past the blocker of Hedberg to give the Bruins the lead and eventual win. After his time up in the press box as a healthy scratch the game before, Pouliot said this goal definitely was a "feel good" point.
"Oh yeah it was a team thing," Pouliot said. "It feels good obviously scoring a goal. The game winner or not it just feels good. It helps mentality a lot. You feel good after this. Right now I feel great. We got a tough schedule coming up and it’s just a thing of keeping that going and keeping consistent"
Tim Thomas picked up his seventh win this season, stopping 27 shots, and still hasn't allowed more than three goals in a single game once this year.
Offensively, this is the first game in the month of November that the Bruins haven't scored five or more goals. This was what they called a character win, one that would test what they really were about when they weren't ahead by three goals at any given time.
"Yeah, those lopsided games aren’t realistic in this league," Bruins forward Chris Kelly said. "And we’ve been fortunate to score some goals and some quick goals back-to-back. But tonight it was back and forth and it was great to see the guys come in and find a way to win."
Thomas agreed, saying this game was kind of a wake up call to them, and one that should settle them back into reality.
"Yeah, we’ve had a couple of games where everything went our way, kind of easier wins," Thomas said. "This was a good wake up call without having to pay the price because we were able to get out of it with the win. You know, this is the way it’s going to be the majority of the time, it’s not always going to be the way it has been the last three or four games. And so it’s a good experience for our team I think."