BOSTON – The New Jersey Devils’ defence snarled the Boston Bruins’ offence like the trip for those few fans that made it to the TD Banknorth Garden.
Jamie Langenbrunner scored two goals to lift the Devils to a 3-1 win over the Bruins on Thursday night in a game played in front of about only 1,500 people due to a major snowstorm.
Brian Gionta also scored and Martin Brodeur stopped 19 shots for the Devils, who halted a two-game losing skid that came after a nine-game winning streak.
“It was a solid team win,” New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said. “Everyone got back to what they needed to do and our awareness was what it needed to be.”
Marc Savard had a power-play goal for Boston, which snapped a three-game winning streak. The Bruins played 11 of their previous 13 on the road.
But Savard’s goal was one of a few good opportunities the Bruins had against the Devils, who came into the game allowing the second-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference.
“That’s what they play for,” Boston goaltender Alex Auld said. “They give you so few chances.”
When the players took the ice for pre-game warmups, there were maybe 500 people in their seats.
“I think the ushers and the families were the only ones in the stands,” joked Devils defenceman Mike Mottau. “It’s always nice to play an NHL game – fans or no fans.”
New Jersey jumped ahead 1-0 on Gionta’s goal 10:57 into the second period when he snapped a shot that slipped between the Auld’s pads.
With Andrew Alberts off for a double-minor for high sticking and Zdeno Chara whistled for slashing, the Devils cashed in on the two-man advantage when Langenbrunner one-timed a shot inside the left post at 14:34 to make it 2-0.
Savard’s power play score cut to 2-1 just 1:31 into the third.
The Bruins didn’t generate many scoring chances after Savard’s goal, and Langenbrunner sealed it with an empty-netter in the final minute. It was unlike their play during their time away from home when they averaged 3.36 goals per game.
“I don’t think it gets easier at home,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “But all that work we did on the road won’t do us any good if we don’t do well at home.”
During pre-game introductions, the building was darkened and snow flakes were shown falling on the jumbotron and along the message boards that ring the arena, reminding many of the fans what was going on outside in the area’s first major snowfall of the season that was expected to dump about 10 inches.
Traffic along a major river road that winds along the city toward the Garden was clogged, forcing many to sit for two hours for a trip that lasts a few miles as at least a half dozen cars were abandoned.
In the building, it had the appearance of a pre-season game with very little natural crowd noise. Neither team scored in a first period that had very few chances and limited action until a late fight between Boston’s Milan Lucic and the Devils’ David Clarkson.