BRUINS 3, DEVILS 3
Jillson scores pair as Bruins earn opening tie
Jeff Jillson didn't count the seconds it took for Devils center John Madden to slide by in an attempt to block what Madden thought was going to be a shot from the left point. The young Bruins defenseman said it felt like forever. Instead, Jillson faked a shot, waited for Madden to get out of the way, took a stride in toward the left circle, and let a wrister fly at the net. It sailed past Martin Brodeur with 3:58 remaining in regulation and tied the game at 3-3.
And that's where it stayed as the Bruins picked up a point against the Stanley Cup champion Devils in the season opener last night at the FleetCenter.
Jillson, who was dealt to Boston from San Jose early last year and played in Providence for the rest of the season, has been touted for his offensive abilities. They were on display last night as he tallied a pair of goals in his Boston debut. The second stood out because of the patience he showed.
"[Sergei Samsonov] made a great play along the boards and kicked it back out to me," said Jillson. "I saw the guy go down and I kind of faked the shot and just waited until he slid by. It seemed like time stood still it seemed so long. When he went by me I just tried to get it off as quick as I could."
The start was nothing short of awful for the Bruins. The first period bore a chilling resemblance to last April when they were suffocated in five games by the Devils in the opening round of the playoffs. Every time the Bruins managed to get out of their zone, the Devils frustrated their efforts to battle through the neutral zone and forge an attack. Through the first 15 minutes, New Jersey had a 12-1 lead in shots on goal. The Bruins didn't get a second shot on Brodeur until there was 3:42 left in the period when defenseman Dan McGillis ripped a slapper from the right point.
The good news was the play of Bruins goalie Felix Potvin, who turned back all 13 shots he faced in the opening frame and finished with 32 saves, many of which were difficult.
New Jersey began the second on the power play, with 51 seconds remaining on a McGillis slashing call. And the Devils cashed in on a superb individual effort by fluid-skating defenseman Scott Niedermayer. Niedermayer charged down the slot, eluding Boston blue liners Hal Gill and Nick Boynton, and beat Potvin through the five-hole with nine seconds remaining on the man-advantage.
A little later, another penalty came back to haunt the home team. This time it was to Brian Rolston, who was whistled for hooking at 12:14. Just 26 seconds later, the Devils made it a 2-0 lead on a goal by left wing Jeff Friesen. Friesen had the puck outside the right post and tried to jam it through Potvin's legs but the goalie stopped it with his stick. However, Friesen got his own rebound and found a hole under Potvin's glove arm.
Boston began its comeback less than two minutes later when Jillson scored his first goal as a Bruin (and No. 6 of his NHL career) at 14:31. With the Bruins on the power play, Jillson teed up a slapper from the point and it deflected past Brodeur.
The momentum was swinging the Bruins' way and their captain, Joe Thornton, capitalized. Glen Murray had the puck in the left corner with two defenders coming at him. He backhanded a pass off the backboards and over to Thornton, who was behind the net. Thornton skated left to right and beat Brodeur with a wraparound to the far side with 15.2 seconds remaining to pull the Bruins even at 2-2.
Midway through the third, newcomer Travis Green, whose snarly edge is often an asset, delivered an ill-advised high stick to Devils right wing Grant Marshall and was issued a two-minute minor. Niedermayer made the Bruins pay. Positioned just inside the blue line, Niedermayer took a pass from center Igor Larionov and flipped the puck at the net. It deflected off a couple of bodies in front before finding its way past Potvin at 9:34.
The Bruins pulled even late in the period, sending the game into OT.
First-year Bruins coach Mike Sullivan has referred to his team as a work in progress. One area the Bruins will need to work on is skating from the drop of the puck to the end of each period.They didn't in the first.
"When we get on our heels and stand and watch, we're not a difficult team to play against," he said. "For whatever reason, we came out flat and we weren't moving our feet. I thought as the game went along, we got better and better in that area."
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.