Patrice Bergeron’s goal with 18.3 seconds left in overtime lifted the visiting Boston Bruins to a 1-0 win over the Devils on Tuesday night.
Mark Stuart’s shot from the right circle was deflected by Mark Recchi in front before Bergeron put the rebound into the open left side at 4:41 of the extra session. Defenseman Paul Martin lost his stick in a collision with Ilya Kovalchuk before the goal was scored.
The Devils (44-26-6) dropped their second straight and lost for the first time in four meetings with Boston this season (3-0-1). Jersey's Team suffered its seventh shutout of the season, second in its last four home games.
"We didn’t start well – we didn’t finish well, either,” said head coach Jacques Lemaire. “Not a good game.”
Martin Brodeur made 33 saves, including a sprawling stop against Michael Ryder 50 seconds into the third period. Tuukka Rask needed 21 saves for his 17th win of the year and fifth shutout.
“They took control and the defenseman just kind of bought time for all their players to come in front of me,” Brodeur said of the winning goal. “(Stuart) just kind of threw it at the net and (Recchi) tipped it a little bit to (Bergeron) going backdoor.”
The overtime loss moved the Devils within one point of first-place Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division race with six games to go. New Jersey clinched its 13th straight postseason berth with Saturday’s win at Montreal.
Of late, though, teams on the playoff bubble have given the Devils all they can handle. They have been held to one goal or less in four of their last seven outings, all against teams either out of playoff contention or fighting to get in.
Brodeur came out on the short end of a 1-0 decision just 10 days ago, when the Devils stumbled against St. Louis. On Tuesday, the Devils struggled to match the intensity of another club battling for a playoff spot. Boston preserved its two-point cushion over Atlanta for the eighth seed in the East.
“Slowly, you have to be concerned a bit,” Brodeur said. “We’re not playing bad hockey. That’s the positive. We just have to get that energy to be able to match. It’s not a switch. Hopefully, we’re not all waiting for the playoffs to make it happen. It’s got to happen before. Jacques stressed that now it’s time for us to start being a little more steady in our game. Today was not something that you want to get into the playoffs playing like that.”
Boston’s play came as no surprise to Lemaire.
“They always plays hard,” Lemaire said. “Every time we play them, this is the type of game they play. I just feel that we played better in the other games we played against them. Tonight, was probably our worst game against this team.”
Neither team took a penalty until 7:03 of the third period, when Zdeno Chara was called for hooking. Zach Parise’s interference minor wiped out 1:36 of Matt Hunwick’s delay of game minor for putting the puck over the glass at 9:51. The Devils killed off Patrik Elias’s trip on Bergeron with 2:54 left in the game.
Elias was also assessed a game misconduct at the end of the contest.
“It’s not worth me even saying anything about it,” a frustrated Elias said afterward.
David Clarkson nearly broke the scoreless tie late in the third, following a rush by Andy Greene. Greene carried down the left side before setting up Clarkson at the edge of the left circle. Clarkson ripped a shot over Rask’s glove that rang off the crossbar with 6:51 to go in regulation.
“You know what? I wish I could have it back,” Clarkson said. “But I think there was a couple of plays tonight where I had some shots and could have put it in the net. Personally, I need to bear down a bit more. You don’t get many opportunities like that. When you do, you want to put them home. I’ve got to bear down a bit. That should have been in the back of the net and it wasn’t.”
Sluggish starts are hampering the Devils' efforts. They allowed a goal 53 seconds into Sunday’s loss at Philadelphia, and were outshot, 13-6, in the first period against Boston.
“We’ve had slow starts the last few games,” Parise said. “It’s something we’ll have to address because we have to recognize who we’re playing against. These guys, they don’t want their seasons to end. They’re coming out and it’s been a few games now where we’re getting outshot six, seven to nothing right away. We have to fix that.”
The Bruins’ stifling defense gave the Devils trouble for much of the evening.
“Didn’t seem like a lot of times they forechecked, so it was tough to get through the neutral zone,” said Parise. “I thought towards the end we started to, but for the first, probably, 40 minutes, we were turning the puck over a lot.”
Early in the third, Ryder used a burst down the left side to cut in front of the net, but Brodeur lunged to his left to deny Ryder at the goal line. Video review confirmed the no-goal.
“I didn’t think he was going to be able to cut across,” Brodeur said. “I just stood my ground, and when I saw our defenseman wasn’t there, in desperation, I just kind of threw my glove on the goal line. He got a pretty good stab at it, so I had to stay strong on the goal line with my glove.”
Lemaire praised his fourth line of Dainius Zubrus and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond centered by Dean McAmmond as the team's best trio of the night. … Devils slipped to 2-2 in overtime this season. … New Jersey hosts Chicago on Friday, then heads south for a three-game road trip beginning Saturday in Carolina.
1 - 0 BOS
Delaying Game - Puck over glass