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The hex continues for the Bruins, shut out again by also-ran Devils

Jack Hughes had a great view of teammate Kyle Palmieri's first-period deflection past Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak, the only goal of Sunday's New Jersey victory at TD Garden.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Bruins laid another two points at the feet of the Devils and their Martin Brodeur impersonator in net on Sunday, falling a 1-0 victim to big Mackenzie Blackwood and the capricious bounces of the black rubber disc.

The 2,191 permitted entry into TD Garden rained boos after the final buzzer, either believing the Black and Gold were denied a fair shake, or just letting off steam after a frenzied final sequence.

The Bruins (17-9-5) were unable to break Blackwood (40 saves) for 58 minutes and change, but with Jaroslav Halak off for an extra attacker, a bloody-nosed Patrice Bergeron poked a loose puck out of Blackwood’s crease and into the net with 1:10 left. For a few moments, the scoreboard read 1-1.


The Devils challenged for goalie interference, arguing that David Krejci jabbed the puck loose after Blackwood covered it, and made contact with the netminder after that. They won the challenge.

“There is, I’m sure, 20 angles to base it on and make a decision,” said Bergeron, saying he couldn’t determine if the goaltender interference call was correct. “You have to trust them that they make the right decision and move on.”

With Halak (28 saves) off again in the final frenzied seconds, Nick Ritchie got the last whack at a puck out of midair. It dribbled toward the line with 8.3 seconds left, and appeared to go over. After a Devils icing with 1.1 seconds left, referees Jon McIsaac and Furman South took another look.

They ruled that Blackwood’s right skate kicked out the tumbling puck before it entirely crossed the line, and they may have been right. Bergeron believed they were.

Coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t feel the goalie interference call was “egregious,” but ultimately accepted it.

“I don’t know,” he said, noting his club’s hard luck on overturned goal calls in recent years. “What am I supposed to say on that?”


Blackwood blanked the Bruins for the second meeting in a row. Backup Scott Wedgewood left a 1-0 winner here on March 7, submitting an identical 40-save outing. The Bruins are 1-3-1 against the sixth-place team in the East.

The Devils (13-16-4), who had lost two in a row to the Capitals and meet the Bruins again on Tuesday, are headed toward the April 12 trade deadline squarely in the “sellers” category. The only reason they are not in the East basement is because the Sabres have moved in all their furniture.

And yet, New Jersey may wind up remembering the 2021 Bruins as the team that made them feel hope for the future.

The Bruins were missing Brad Marchand again, running out Trent Frederic and Anders Bjork in his place on the top line. The power play fired blanks again (0 for 4), and is 0 for 9 the last two games without their half-wall wizard. They could use Tuukka Rask, though Halak submitted a solid night against a subpar club — as usual, there were a few iffy moments. They would love to have the stoutness of Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller on the back end, even though a young lineup of penalty killers, missing those two and Marchand, went 4 for 4.

The offense could use someone like Kyle Palmieri, who scored the game’s only goal with 3:23 left in the first by parking his wheels in a soft area in the high slot. Defenseman Ty Smith’s shot clanked off Charlie Coyle and the legs of Palmieri before beating Halak.


Kyle Palmieri celebrates helping beat Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead in the first period Sunday.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Palmieri, rumored to be of interest to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney the last few seasons, might be a wise add if just for damage control. The lucky bounce boosted his line to 4-1—5 in five games against the B’s. Palmieri is 3-8—11 in 27 games against the rest of the division. His shooting percentage against Boston: 25 percent. Everyone else: 3.8 percent.

As Cassidy noted, his club didn’t lack for effort. It rarely does.

From David Pastrnak (six shots, 11 attempts) to Karson Kuhlman (four shots in 8:09), they were firing. They outshot the Devils, 17-5, in the third period, and 40-29 in total.

But Blackwood (3-0-1 against Boston this year) is looking like the new Braden Holtby. He has stopped 127 of 132 (.962) Black and Gold shots in the four meetings.

Tough to swallow if you’re the Bruins, but they do have a beef with officiating. In addition to the too-close review at the end, the refs missed a clear trip on Krejci at the end of the second, with the Bruins on the power play. They needed a review to call a double-minor high-stick against Charlie McAvoy.

“You can outscore some of those calls,” Cassidy said. “We’re not in that position, clearly.”

After what the Bruins thought was the game tying goal in the final seconds of Sunday's contest was waved off, David Pastrnak (left) and Patrice Bergeron (right) howl at an official.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Bergeron, his nose busted and bloodied from an inadvertent Trent Frederic elbow that briefly sent him to the room for repairs, was already looking forward to the next game. He was determined to not let a few bad breaks sidetrack the mission.


“It’s good,” he said. “It’s adversity. There’s a lot of teams that have been through [COVID] protocol, and had to pause their season, and lost some key players. We’re no different. Ultimately we have to battle. We have to find a way.”

Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.