Mired in a bit of a scoring slump, the Boston Bruins knew they needed to acquire an offensive threat to help in their pursuit of the Northeast Division crown down the stretch.
The answer turned out to be a five-time Art Ross Trophy winner and future Hall of Fame winger.
Boston had scored two or fewer goals four times during a 2-3-1 stretch from March 17-27, and general manager Peter Chiarelli thought he had a deal completed for Calgary’s Jarome Iginla last Thursday.
After Iginla decided to block the trade and head to Pittsburgh instead, Chiarelli went back to the phones and dealt two prospects plus a conditional second-round pick in this year’s draft to Dallas for Jagr.
Though the last of his NHL scoring titles came in 2001-02, the 41-year-old veteran has proved he’s still capable of making solid contributions. At the time of the trade, Jagr led the Stars with 14 goals and 26 points.
Coach Claude Julien also believes Jagr can help a power-play unit that is just 1 for 19 over the last nine games.
“He’s coming to help us, he’s not coming to save us,” Julien said. “He’s a great player, but at the same time if we expect to watch him do (all) the work we’re not going to be going anywhere. We need our team to play better and he’s certainly going to help our team be better.”
Though Boston fired a season-high 50 shots on net, Julien was unimpressed with a defense that allowed 47 shots to reach goaltender Anton Khudobin
“It was good to see our team offensively create some chances because that’s an area where we struggled,” Julien said. “But, I thought that we were very soft defensively.”
That hasn’t been the case in recent meetings with New Jersey, as the Bruins have outscored the Devils 33-14 in non-shootout goals while winning nine of the last 10 matchups.
Horton scored late in the third and Seguin added a goal in the shootout to give Boston a 2-1 win Jan. 29 over New Jersey, which has gone 0-1-3 since a shoulder injury suffered March 23 sidelined Ilya Kovalchuk
The Devils (15-12-9), the defending Eastern Conference champions, have slipped into a tie for the No. 7 seed and are coming off a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday.
“There’s no reason to look back now,” said center Adam Henrique who hasn’t recorded a point in his last five games. “We’re in a good spot. We’re playing teams ahead of us and that we can catch. Twelve games is not a lot, so we’re just going to leave everything out there and go from there.”
New Jersey hopes acquiring veteran forward Steve Sullivan will bolster its offense. The 38-year-old, originally a ninth-round pick by the Devils in 1994, had five goals and seven assists in 33 games with Phoenix.
Martin Brodeur is 2-1-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average since returning from a back injury, but he has a 3.38 GAA while dropping his last seven starts versus the Bruins. That skid matches his longest against any one team in his career - he lost seven straight to the Atlanta Thrashers from 2004-06 and to the New York Rangers in the 2007-08 season.
Khudobin has stopped 71 of 73 shots while starting the last two games for Boston, though Julien could go back to Tuukka Rask for this contest. Rask is 2-1-1 with a 1.18 GAA in four career starts versus the Devils.
Bruins’ leading scorer Patrice Bergeron is out indefinitely after suffering what Chiarelli called a “moderate concussion” in the second period of Tuesday’s game. He has missed 96 previous games over his career due to three separate concussions.