If tonight was a statement game for the New Jersey Devils, they barely managed to let out a whisper.
Many players saw tonight as an opportunity to measure themselves against the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. After the game, Devils players saw how far the gap is between the two teams.
Boston scored six straight goals tonight to defeat the Devils, 6-1, at the Prudential Center. The win ended New Jersey's three game home win streak.
"We got out butts kicked out there," Martin Brodeur told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "You can't really sugarcoat it any other way. They really dictated the game, the way it was going to be played, and it didn't look like we had any answer for them both offensively and defensively."
The six goals tied a season-high for most goals allowed by New Jersey. The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Devils, 6-1, on November 30.
New Jersey got off to an impressive start, taking a 1-0 lead at 4:24 of the first period. With the Devils on the powerplay, Zach Parise chipped a loose puck past Adam McQuaid at the right point and raced into the neutral zone. He carried the puck into the Bruins zone on a 2-on-1 with David Clarkson. The Devils captain fed the right wing a pass in the slot, and Clarkson fired a shot past the glove of Tim Thomas for his 15th goal of the season.
That was the last time the Devils controlled the game.
Gregory Campbell tied the game, 1-1, at 8:15 of the opening period. Andrew Ference fired a shot from the left point that deflected off the skate of Campbell and past a screened Brodeur. It was his fourth goal of the season.
Nathan Horton put Boston ahead, 2-1, with a power-play goal at 13:17 of the first period. With Henrik Tallinder in the box, Milan Lucic held the puck near the right corner. He passed the puck to David Krejci in the right circle, who moved the puck over to Horton. He beat Brodeur with a shot off the post.
After that, it was all Bruins. Not only did they score four more times - including three goals in the third period - but they outplayed the Devils in every facet of the game. They dominated faceoffs, going 42-12, and outhit the Devils, 23-19. Boston forced more turnovers and, despite getting outshot, generated more quality scoring chances.
Brodeur, who made 21 saves, said the damage could have been much worse.
"They go to the net and you know what? They scored six, (but) they missed about three backdoor plays that guys had a good chance at," Brodeur told Gulitti.
The loss left the Devils questioning whether Boston is a far superior team or if New Jersey had an off night. No matter the answer to that question, Parise said the loss should wake up his team.
"I guess it was a little wakeup call," he told Gulitti. "Beforehand, we knew that we would have to work and win pucks all over the ice and I think a lot of times we got beat. At different times, two of our guys got beat by one guy. When we're playing well, that doesn't happen. It's not as if we weren't prepared. We knew what we were getting into. It's the best team in the league, the best team in hockey right now. So, we knew what we were getting into and if you make some mistakes against a team like that they've got so many different guys that can score and they capitalized."
Devils coach Peter DeBoer said tonight's loss was a good lesson for his team.
"Hey, that's the Stanley Cup champion," he said to Gulitti. "They're healthy. They're well rested. That's the bar and that was a good lesson on how high the bar is and what we've got to do to get there."
Brodeur said the team can't dwell on the loss.
"We're going to look at what we did wrong against that team, but it's not the end of the world," he told Gulitti. "It's one match-up. We wanted to measure ourselves to the top team and we failed, so we've got to get back at work and try to build it up. We have a tough couple of games coming up this weekend. We've just got to come through here and forget about this one. There's no sense being down. We'll take it. I'm sure we'll think about it tonight and tomorrow we'll get back to work. That's what hockey is."