Bobby Holik puts a shot on goal in Sunday's game.
newjerseydevils.com – Looking to gain ground on the Eastern Conference lead, the Devils stumbled Sunday in their final regular season meeting with the Boston Bruins.
Should the teams face each other again in the postseason, the stakes will be even higher.
Andy Greene had the lone goal of the afternoon for the Devils, who fell behind 3-0 on a pair of Bruins power-play goals. Zach Parise picked up an assist to extend his points streak to eight games (3g-8a).
Michael Ryder and Marc Savard each had a goal and an assist, and Tim Thomas made 41 saves. The Devils outshot the Bruins 42-30 in the game, 17-3 in the third period.
Martin Brodeur recorded 26 saves and lost for just the second time since returning from elbow surgery (9-2).
Brodeur, who picked up his 553rd career win and 101st career shutout Friday against Minnesota, experienced his toughest outing since allowing six goals at Long Island on March 7.
New Jersey is 9-3 since Brodeur came back on Feb. 26, but has dropped two of its last three. Brodeur (15-4-2) has surrendered 11 goals in those wins, while giving up 10 in his last two losses.
"This was a good matchup for us to go in and try to get close to these guys," Brodeur said. "Losing the game, especially the way we did is not fun, but we'll learn from it. We made a couple of mistakes and paid the price."
The loss snapped the Devils' (47-22-3, 97 pts) two-game winning streak against Boston (46-17-10, 102 pts), and resulted in a 2-2-0 split of the season series. Rather than close to within one point of the conference top spot, New Jersey dropped five points out with 10 games remaining.
Philadelphia's (39-22-10, 88 pts) win over Pittsburgh trimmed the Devils' division lead to nine points.
Though the Devils have won a franchise-record 11 in a row at home, they have just one regulation win in their last eight games away from Prudential Center (3-5-0). Head coach Brent Sutter's squad plays six of its final games on the road, including Monday's contest at Philadelphia.
"It's over and done with," Sutter said. "We'll get ready for tomorrow night. We need to start being a little better on the road."
Ryder's 25th of the year was the only goal of the opening period.
A penalty for too many men put the Devils shorthanded, and Ryder tipped Mark Recchi's pass off Paul Martin's skate and past Brodeur at 16:22. It was New Jersey's second too many men infraction in as many games.
"I don't think we played that badly," Sutter said. "Five-on-five we were pretty good. We had over 40 shots tonight. Our specialty teams weren't good here; it hurt us. Too many men on the ice, two games in a row. You're taking somebody that's 80 feet away and you don't know where the awareness is. You just jump onto the ice and into the play and you're not paying attention."
Boston's three-goal second period began with Chuck Kobasew putting the Devils behind by a pair. He netted his 18th by wrapping a backhander underneath Brodeur from the right side of the net at 1:52.
The Bruins converted on their second power-play chance to go ahead by three.
Matt Hunwick's shot from the left point deflected off of a Devils' stick in front, and came to Savard for his 23rd from the right circle at 6:19.
Greene's second goal of the season was his first tally in 42 games, and got the Devils on the scoreboard with 7:16 left in the middle frame.
Greene started the play in his own end, passing out of his own zone to Travis Zajac in neutral territory. Zajac fed toward the Boston blueline for Parise, who went cross-ice to Jamie Langenbrunner. The captain hit Greene cutting up the middle to complete a pretty passing play at 12:44.
Milan Lucic restored the three-goal lead by sneaking a backhander through Brodeur from the bottom of the left circle as Stephane Yelle crashed the net at 17:26.
The Devils had two power plays in the third period, but couldn't add to their goal count. They finished 0-for-5.
NJD NOTES Boston native Jay Pandolfo was back in action Sunday, filling in for Brendan Shanahan who took a maintenance day. Pandolfo had been a healthy scratch in six straight games. ... D Colin White (lower body) missed his third straight game, and remains day-to-day. ... D Jay Leach was a healthy scratch.
Wrist shot -