Boston Bruins center Gregory Campbell (11) celebrates his goal during the first period of their game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
Bruins hang on, take over first in division
The win moves Boston one point ahead of Montreal in the Northeast Division standings.
Gregory Campbell knocked in a rebound off a Jaromir Jagr shot just 1:10 into the game before Daniel Paille and Campbell each scored a short-handed goal, at 4:51 and 8:12 respectively, as the Bruins (29-9-4) moved to a 3-0 lead. The disastrous start for the Devils (15-15-10) led to hometown boos as the teams headed into the first break.
The Devils hadn't lost eight in a row since 1992 and the current slide of 0-4-4 has put New Jersey on the brink of playoff elimination with eight games to play. The Devils were the 2012 Stanley Cup runner-up to the Los Angeles Kings last season.
Andy Green's goal 5:58 into the third period had brought the Devils to within 4-3, but that momentum soon disappeared when the Bruins struck at 7:33 on a goal by Tyler Seguin. Paille's pass from behind the net found the stick of Seguin, who pushed it underneath a sprawling Martin Brodeur for Boston's fifth goal. Matt D'Agostini scored for the Devils with 37 seconds showing.
The only positive of the first period for the Devils was when Brodeur stopped Johnny Boychuik's penalty shot when it was a 1-0 game.
There didn't seem to be any doubt about the outcome after defenseman Zdeno Chara scored 3:06 into the second for a 4-0 Boston bulge.
The Devils tried to climb back from their four-goal deficit in the second. Patrick Elias connected for his 11th goal of the season off a shot taken by Steve Sullivan at 11:07 to make it 4-1 and Travis Zajac made it 4-2 at 18:12 with an unassisted short-handed goal for New Jersey. Zajac used a poke check to knock the puck between two Bruins and won a race to the goal, beating Boston's Anton Khudobin for his sixth goal. It was the Devils' league-leading 11th short-handed goal.
The Devils were sloppy defensively from the start, failing to clear the puck before Jagr took control and fired at Brodeur, who made the initial stop before Campbell banged in the rebound just 70 seconds into the action.
Then, while on a power play, Sullivan of the Devils tried to make a cross-ice pass that Rich Peverley picked off and sent to Paille for the Bruins' first short-handed goal of the game. Campbell scored the second short-handed goal when he redirected a shot through the crowd by Andrew Ference. Brodeur never moved as Campbell touched it inside the near post.
Jagr's shot from the side was nearly knocked into the goal by David Krejci, but Brodeur got a piece of the puck before Chara shoved it home for the four-goal lead.