The Boston Bruins are not only threatening to run away with the Eastern Conference, they are challenging St. Louis for the NHL’s best regular-season record.
The Bruins rolled to their 10th straight victory Tuesday night, getting goals from Brad Marchand and Jarome Iginla in a 59-second span early in the second period in beating the slumping New Jersey Devils 4-2.
The winning streak ties Anaheim for the NHL’s longest this season and it has moved the Bruins (99 points) just two behind the idle Blues in the race for the President’s Trophy. St. Louis has a game in hand.
"It’s been good," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the team posted its third 10-game winning streak since he took over as coach in 2007-08.
"Our guys just keep believing and doing the right things," he added. "That’s given us the opportunity to win."
The right thing for the Bruins was their response after Patrik Elias scored for New Jersey with a two-man advantage just 29 seconds into the second period. Not only did it tie the game at 1, it happened so fast that the Devils had 1:28 left on the second power play.
Instead of sagging while playing their second game in as many nights, the Bruins responded. Marchand scored his league-leading fifth short-handed goal and the red-hot Iginla pushed the lead to two goals less than a minute late.
"It’s always nice when you are able to get a goal right after they score one, and getting it short-handed is always nice," Marchand said.
The winning streak is the Bruins’ longest since a 10-game run in November 2011. It’s also four shy of the franchise record set in 1929-30.
"We’re not thinking about anything," Marchand said of the record and the run at the President’s Trophy. "We’ve cleared that out of our minds and are trying to take it game by game and day by day. We’ve played too many games in too short of a time to think like that. It’s just a struggle getting up every day and looking at the next game. It’s been a pretty tiring month.
"We’re staying focused, and if we do that, we’ll continue our run."
Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly also scored for Boston. Chad Johnson made 20 saves as the Eastern Conference leaders hurt the Devils’ postseason hopes by sending them to their third straight loss.
Bergeron also had the primary assist on Marchand’s goal while Zdeno Chara, who was celebrating his 37th birthday, made the breakout pass out of the zone.
The goal had not been announced when Iginla broke into the Devils’ zone after taking a long pass and beat Martin Brodeur between the pads with a shot from the right circle. It was his 26th goal of the season and his fifth in the last three games.
Elias and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who have 13 games left to either turn things around or they will miss the playoffs for the second straight year and third time in four. Brodeur made 27 saves.
"Our effort is just not at the right point for the urgency that we need to make that push toward the playoffs," Brodeur said.
The fans at the Prudential Center noted that by booing New Jersey as it left the ice down 3-1 after two periods.
"We deserved to get booed," said Elias, whose goal was his 16th.
Kelly stretched the lead to 4-1 a little more than seven minutes into the third period, beating Brodeur in close after taking a pass from Carl Soderberg.
Zajac snapped a shot over Johnson (15-3-1) a little more than two minutes later. It was his 13th of the season.
The Bruins, who were playing on consecutive nights, dominated the first period, taking the first nine shots. Bergeron put them ahead with 5:27 left in the period when he was sent in alone by Reilly Smith and beat Brodeur with a backhander that seemed to slip off his stick.
NOTES: Bruins D Johnny Boychuk missed his second straight game with a leg injury. … Devils F Ryan Carter missed his second straight with an upper-body injury. New Jersey recalled Tim Sestito from Albany (AHL) to take his place on the fourth line. … The Bruins had killed off 20 straight penalties before Elias scored with 6 seconds left in the two-man advantage. … Iginla’s goal was the 556th of his career, tying him with Bruins great John Bucyk for 25th place in NHL history. … Devils F Jaromir Jagr picked up an assist on Zajac’s goal, the 1,044th of his career, five behind Gordie Howe for eighth in league history.