NEWARK, N.J. - Rookie Jordan Caron got a souvenir he'll always cherish, the puck from his first NHL tally. Tim Thomas and the rest of the Boston Bruins also came away with something they wanted—a solid win over the New Jersey Devils.
Caron sparked Boston's four-goal second period, and Thomas made 31 saves in the Bruins' 4-1 victory on Saturday night.
Michael Ryder, Shawn Thornton and Milan Lucic also scored for the Bruins, who played their first game since opening the season by splitting two games in the Czech Republic against the Phoenix Coyotes.
"It wasn't like we were looking at beating New Jersey," Thomas said. "We've had trouble with them in the past, but it was more that we wanted to be 2-1. Our goal coming in was to start working our way up the standings. We were hungry for the victory, no matter who it was against."
Dainius Zubrus scored for the Devils, who are winless at home (0-3-1). They are stunningly 1-4-1 overall, a stumbling start under rookie coach John MacLean for a team loaded with high-priced talent—beginning with US$100 million forward Ilya Kovalchuk.
"It's horrible," Kovalchuk said. "We have one win in six games. It's not what we were looking for. Nobody is going to feel bad for us. Every team is going to play their best against us because they know we have a good team. We just have to play together, for each other."
Right now, the Devils are struggling at both ends. They break down too often in their zone, and the forwards are not producing. New Jersey has only five goals in the last four games.
"I think the support is lacking," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. "That comes with communication. When your offence doesn't work, it only takes a couple of mistakes and your mind starts playing with you. The snowball keeps on getting bigger, and that's what happened in the second."
The Devils had an 11-8 shot advantage in the scoreless first period, and both teams had a solid scoring chance. Brodeur had a glove deflection on Boston's Tyler Seguin shot in the opening minutes. At the other end, Thomas kicked away Jason Arnott's rebound bid late in the period.
The Devils came close again to start the second, but Thomas made a stellar pad save on Kovalchuk.
"I saw the turnover, I saw the play developing," Thomas said. "When the pass came over to Kovalchuk, it was 'Uh-oh' time. He made a move, and just by pure reaction I was fortunate enough to get a toe on it."
New Jersey broke through with the first goal at 3:45 of the second. Andy Greene took a point shot that Zach Parise tipped into Thomas before Zubrus swatted home the rebound.
The remainder of the period belonged to Boston.
Caron, a 19-year-old player who was a first-round draft pick in 2009, got the Bruins tied 1-1 at 5:38 when he netted the rebound of Johnny Boychuk's point shot.
"It's a thrill," Caron said. "I grew up in Montreal watching Brodeur winning those Stanley Cups. It's pretty special to score against him. I'll put the puck in my future home and keep it safe."
Ryder put the Bruins ahead 2-1 at 10:44, beating Brodeur with a rising wrist shot from the high slot.
Thornton connected at 16:43 from the bottom of the right circle to put Boston up 3-1, and Lucic closed the scoring at 18:09 of the potent second period.
NOTES: Both teams have been hit with significant early season injuries. The Bruins are missing C Marc Savard (post-concussion symptoms) and LW Marco Sturm (knee). For the Devils, LW Brian Rolston (sports hernia) and D Anton Volchenkov (broken nose and stiff neck) remain sidelined. ... The Bruins will play at Washington on Tuesday. The Devils also head out on the road for their next game, facing Montreal on Thursday. ... The announced crowd was 13,056. Attendance was likely held down because the New York Yankees' baseball playoff game at Texas was played at the same time. ... Brodeur has started all six games for New Jersey.