A sleepy night on Causeway Street, one that had the Bruins pointed straight to bed with a goose egg under their pillows, erupted late Tuesday into a crazy six-round shootout that included: 1.) a flying pretzel; 2.) an old fashioned backyard rink kind of do-over and 3). a 2-1 Bruins victory over New Jersey that improved Boston’s record to a near-flawless 5-0-1 to start the new season.
OK, in the interest of hungry news hounds everywhere, we will start with the pretzel. Warning: this is not your granddaddy’s game story.
With Tyler Seguin the leadoff hitter in the shootout, someone in the soldout TD Garden stands fired the doughy treat (wrapped, one large, condiments unknown) toward New Jersey netminder Johan Hedberg. As the offending appetizer slid across the crease and behind Hedberg, the onrushing Seguin stayed hungry for the net and finished off with a forehand stuff that should have been good for the 1-0 lead in the extra session.
But not so fast. Hedberg clearly hadn’t seen the skittering pretzel, but referees Marc Joannette and Mark Lemelin, strutting their officiating mustard and overall sense of fairness, quickly ordered a do-over for Seguin.
“Never had one of those before,’’ said the third-year marksman, who scored his first goal of the season only the night before in Raleigh. “That’s a first. I’m still not sure what that was . . . a hot dog, maybe? Maybe a water bottle? I don’t know. I was just hoping the guy who threw it had a Devils logo on his sweatshirt and he wasn’t a Bruins fan. Whatever . . . someone looked up the rule and it was a do-over.’’
The menu cleared, the table set with the puck placed at center ice, Seguin promptly took his dough-over and finished off this time with a nifty backhander at the left post to put the Bruins ahead on points, but only briefly. Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey’s leadoff hitter, followed immediately with a doorstep forehander over Tuukka Rask’s glove hand. Like a pretzel, this one was knotted.
And on it went. Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton (who tied it in regulation), David Krejci, and Chris Bourque all failed to beat Hedberg. Likewise, Rask bricked up the net against the likes of Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, David Clarkson, and Jacob Josefson.
So, five rounds in the books and the Bruins turn to . . . Brad Marchand, the ’Lil Ball o’ Hate, selected for the first time in his career for a shootout attempt.
“I told him to fake and go high,’’ said Seguin, asked if he provided counsel to his linemate. “But Lord knows he’s not going to listen to anybody but himself.’’
Hate indeed can make a man obstinate. And accurate. Marchand beat his way straight to the net and flicked a forehander that banged off the blade of Hedberg’s paddle and angled in slowly over the goal line.
‘’All I could hear was Segz saying, ‘Go high! Go high!,’ ’’ said Marchand, asked what he heard from his own bench. “But I just kind of blacked out. I don’t know what happened . . . I’m serious, I blacked out. I don’t know what happened. I just made a move, shot, and looked back . . . and it was in.’’
So what we have here in the new NHL is a relatively ho-hum game, Jersey nearly nursing a Clarkson power-play goal to victory, turned into a bizarre, explosive episode of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” . . . with a side order of do-overs and blackouts. Hold the fries. At least don’t toss them on the ice, OK?
For the record, neither Seguin nor a Bruins representative could say for certain that the offending projectile was indeed a pretzel. A longtime photographer at the Garden, positioned close to the ice, said he was positive it was a pretzel. But club spokesman Matt Chmura could only say, “No one made a positive ID before it was tossed into the penalty box and later discarded.’’
For now then it remains a night rich in thrills, carbohydrates, and mystery.
What also remains a mystery is the Boston power play. It took its requisite “0-fer’’ Tuesday night, this one an 0 for 3. It is both predictable and stagnant, and is providing everyone in Black-and-Gold — on the ice and in the front office — with enough heartburn to make a special edition black-and-gold Tums the club’s official antacid.
The one goal they scored in regulation, off Horton’s stick, came with only 4:05 left in the third. It was a rare instance when the Devils, always diligent on defense, allowed the Bruins easy access up ice, Dennis Seidenberg making the initial pass from near his own net. Then came a Milan Lucic pass to Krejci, then Krejci’s relay to right wing, where Horton buried the equalizer with a flubbed wrister from the inner edge of the circle.
“Why’s it so easy to score goals for you?’’ kidded captain Zdeno Chara, playing reporter as media members surrounded Horton in the dressing room.
“This is what a team looks like when it wins — everybody contributes,’’ said Horton, a bit self-conscious as Chara listened acutely, all in jest, to his every word. “I didn’t get the shot I wanted [big smile, with Chara still on his case], but it went in . . . that’s all I wanted.’’
Hey, who could ask for more? Buffalo is in the building Thursday night and everyone is expecting a fight or two against the revamped, toughened up Sabres. Game time 7 p.m. Concession stands, pretzels and all, open an hour earlier, and remain open to the last bounce of the puck.