BOSTON – It was a homecoming for Benn Ferriero, too.
The Essex, Mass., native and Boston College product returned to the TD Garden and upstaged former Bruins star Joe Thornton, scoring to break a third-period tie against his hometown team and leading the San Jose Sharks to a 4-2 victory on Saturday night.
“I grew up watching Joe Thornton. Now I get to play with him,” said Ferriero, who was called up on Friday from the Sharks’ minor league affiliate in nearby Worcester. “Pretty cool to come in here and score the game-winner.”
Ferriero swept in a rebound with 11:12 left, and Antti Niemi stopped 37 shots as San Jose won consecutive games for the first time this season. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture also scored for the Sharks, and Patrick Marleau added an empty-netter with 4.8 seconds left.
Ferriero played in the building about four times a year while he was in college for the Beanpot and the Hockey East conference tournament.
“It’s a lot different playing against the Bruins, obviously, than playing against BU or someone like that,” said the 24-year-old forward, who couldn’t keep track of how many family and friends were in the crowd. “It was a pretty expensive night for tickets for me.”
Milan Lucic scored for Boston, then assisted on Tyler Seguin’s game-tying goal just 29 seconds later as the Bruins rallied to tie it in the third period. Reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas made 26 saves for the Bruins, who are 2-4 at home as they attempt to defend their NHL title.
“We want to get into a rhythm,” Thomas said. “We haven’t been able to get wins back-to-back this year. Some of that is because of the teams that we’re playing against. We’re playing good teams.”
Boston picked Thornton No. 1 overall in the 1997 draft, but shipped him away after seven-plus seasons amid complaints that he wasn’t tough enough to lead the Bruins to a championship. It took another six years, but the Bruins finally won the Stanley Cup in 2011, and that seemed to make both sides forget the somewhat acrimonious way he was shipped out of town.
During a first-period commercial break, the Bruins played a video tribute to Thornton to congratulate him on playing his 1,000th NHL game a night earlier in New Jersey. He waved to the crowd as it gave him a nice ovation, and both benches banged their sticks in his honour.
“This is where it all started,” he said after the game. “They gave me my chance. I love coming back to the city. I’ve still got so many friends here.”
It didn’t take long for Thornton to reintroduce himself.
The game was just 72 seconds old when Pavelski collected a loose puck at the blue-line, skated in and snapped a wrist shot past Thomas’ glove. San Jose scored again in the second period when Martin Havlat dug out a puck behind the net and passed it to Couture in the slot to make it 2-0.
The Bruins got a bit of an emotional charge from Shawn Thornton, who engaged in a lengthy and crowd-pleasing fight with Jim Vandermeer midway through the second.
Boston finally scored with 17:17 left when the puck bounced through the crease, near the goal line and behind Niemi’s back. It made it to Lucic on the other side and he swatted it in to make it 2-1.
Just 29 seconds later, Seguin worked a give-and-go with Lucic to tie it.
But Vandermeer helped set up Ferriero for the go-ahead goal in the third, and Niemi made it hold up.
Notes: Bruins defenceman Adam McQuaid missed his fourth straight game with headaches and neck pain. … The Sharks beat the Devils on Friday night in a shootout. Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist, and Pavelski tied it with 33 seconds left in regulation. … Seguin skated gingerly over to the bench in the final three minutes and didn’t return. “It was a slash,” coach Claude Julien said. “He got hit on the ankle and he’ll probably have a bad bruise.”… The Sharks have won four straight in Boston.