Andy Greene controls the puck during Tuesday's action.
newjerseydevils.com – An evenly-played contest that saw the Devils and Bruins scoreless after 40 minutes came down to one goal.
Two of the NHL's hottest teams matched each other shot for shot through the first two periods until 49 seconds into the decisive third. That's when Milan Lucic broke a scoreless tie to help send the Devils to a 2-0 defeat Tuesday at Prudential Center.
Lucic scored from the slot nine seconds after the Devils had killed off the carryover time from Brian Rolston's slashing penalty late in the second period.
Boston goaltender Tim Thomas, who had allowed 11 goals in his previous three starts, stopped 25 Devils shots to post his third shutout. New Jersey was blanked for just the second time this season.
Thomas kept it 0-0 in the second period by robbing Patrik Elias with 4:09 left.
Jamie Langenbrunner skated up ice on a 2-on-1 with Elias, and fired a slapshot that produced a big rebound in front. Elias pounced for a wrister toward the open net, but Thomas dove to his right to knock the shot away with the heel of his goal stick.
Elias, who had amassed eight goals and nine assists over a season-high 10-game points streak, was held off the scoresheet for the first time since Nov. 26. Boston's Phil Kessel saw his league season-high points streak end at 18 games.
Scott Clemmensen turned away 22 of 23 Boston shots and lost in regulation for just the second time in his last 14 starts.
David Krejci added an empty-netter with 47.8 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Devils' third regulation setback since Nov. 15 snapped their winning streak at three games. New Jersey slipped to 12-3-1 in its last 16, while Eastern Conference-leading Boston won its sixth in a row.
"We did a good job playing a team that's very good defensively," Devils head coach Brent Sutter said. " They did a good job getting in shooting lanes. We had opportunities – the puck didn't go in the net. We had some chances around the net, some battles. They're a good team defensively too."
Sutter's team was flying high offensively coming into their first meeting of the season with the Bruins, and had outscored opponents 12-6 in taking three straight.
Zach Parise tied for a team-high four shots Tuesday, but was held scoreless for just the second time in 10 games this month. Parise had collected two goals and five assists in his previous four games.
The power play that had connected in four straight outings, including a season-high three goals Friday versus Ottawa, was limited to two shots on two full-length opportunities. Though the Devils finished 0-for-3 on the night, one of the power plays was shortened to six seconds following a hooking penalty to Parise.
The Bruins, who had allowed a league-best 2.21 goals per game entering Tuesday's meeting, improved to 20-2-1 in their last 23 contests.
"You're playing a team that's first in the conference," Sutter said. "They're not in first because they didn't play well. They've played very well. It was a good test to see where we're at in a sense. They're where we want to be. I thought it was a very good hockey game in a lot of ways. A break was the difference in the game. The scoring chances that we had, that's just the way it goes."
The Devils head into the NHL's two-day Christmas recess having taken three of their last four and will close out their four-game homestand Friday against Pittsburgh.
NJD NOTES The Devils were shutout by Buffalo, 2-0, back on Nov. 3, in their first game without goaltender Martin Brodeur... John Madden (ill) returned to the lineup after missing two games... Bryce Salvador (upper body) missed his third straight game... Sheldon Brookbank was a healthy scratch.