NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have been skating on thin ice in the standings since late March and the Boston Bruins may have pushed them through their breaking point by handing them their eighth straight loss, 5-4, on Wednesday night before a sellout crowd of 17,625 at the Prudential Center.
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.
NOTES: For the third straight home game, the Devils gave up an early goal when Campbell scored at the 1:10 mark for the Bruins on Wednesday night. The Bruins followed with two short-handed goals to take a 3-0 lead through the first period. On April 1, the Islanders scored 52 seconds into the game and went on to a 3-1 victory. Last Saturday, the Maple Leafs connected at the 3:49 mark of their 2-1 win. ... Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk skated for the second straight day, but there is still no word on when he'll take the ice for real. It can't happen soon enough for the Devils since everything has gone downhill since Kovalchuk injured his right shoulder on March 23. Without Kovalchuk, the Devils have dropped to 10th place and out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings, having been outscored 22-12, and going 3 of 22 on the power play during their seven-game slide. ... The Bruins own a six-game winning streak against the Devils, including a 1-0 shutout by goalie Tuukka Rask on April 4 in Boston when Jagr scored in his first game for the Bruins with a puck that bounced off his skate and beat New Jersey's Brodeur. ... The last time the Devils topped the Bruins was a 3-2 victory on April 10, 2010. ... The Bruins have gone 10-1 in last 11 meetings with the Devils, limiting New Jersey to a total of 14 goals in those 11 games. ... Brodeur is 0-4 in shootouts this season, having allowed six goals on 11 attempts for a .455 save percentage compared to his .719 mark of a year ago when the Devils were 12-4 in shootouts. ... Bruins coach Claude Julien moved Seguin to the third line and elevated Campbell to a line that includes Jagr and Brad Marchand before Monday's game against Carolina, a 6-2 Boston victory. Marchand had two of those goals. ... The Devils' eight-game slide (0-4-4) is their worst since losing eight in a row (0-6-2) March 6-22 in 1992. ... Scratches for the Devils were goalie Johan Hedberg (callup Keith Kinkaid is the backup), Adam Larsson (D), Jacob Josefson (C), Peter Harrold (D), Krystofer Barch (L) and Tom Kostopoulos (R). Scratches for the Bruins were Wade Redden (D), Jay Pandolfo (L), Patrice Bergeron (C), and Aaron Johnson (D). ... The Bruins (56 points) are ahead of Montreal (55 points) in the two-way race to win the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference. ... The Devils and Islanders will play the first NHL game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn when they meet in a preseason game set for Sept. 21. It will be the home ice for the Islanders starting in 2015.