Lapointe scored his first three goals in five weeks as the Bruins built a big lead and held on for a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils, who became the last team in the NHL to suffer consecutive regulation losses this season.
A former 27-goal scorer, Lapointe had just two in 47 games this season and none in the last 17 contests. But he recorded his second career hat trick in a four-goal second period that carried Boston to its third straight home win.
“I’ve had a strange season so far,” he said. “I’ve been working hard during practices. Tonight, the puck was bouncing my way. And it was nice to see it go in for once.”
Mike Knuble had the other goal and Jozef Stumpel collected three assists for the Bruins, who moved within two points of sixth-place Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference. They are three points ahead of the New York Islanders for seventh.
“There’s a lot more room for improvement, so we’ve got to stay focused,” Lapointe said. “You can’t look back and think of the Rangers and Montreal. We have to think of our team.”
New Jersey also did its scoring in the second period but could not overcome a three-goal deficit. The Devils were beaten at home by Atlanta on Tuesday and have dropped four of five.
“This time of year, you can’t be losing two games in a row like we have the last two games,” said New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur, who was pulled midway through the second period. “We fell asleep there for 10 minutes during the game. … We made the mistakes and they capitalized.”
Jamie Langenbrunner’s 20th goal gave the Devils a 1-0 lead 4:11 into the second, but Lapointe tied it 34 seconds later when his slap shot from above the left faceoff circle appeared to tip off the stick of New Jersey’s Scott Gomez and got by Brodeur.
It was his first goal since February 6.
Lapointe put Boston in front for good at 8:40, firing a slapper from the top of the right circle over Brodeur’s glove.
“I knew Marty was a little shaky and I just tried to get some pucks on him,” Lapointe said. “Marty wasn’t there tonight, but I’ll take that anytime.”
Mike Knuble snapped a wrist shot from low in the right circle over Brodeur’s left shoulder just 38 seconds later to make it 3-1 and Lapointe completed his second career hat trick at the 10-minute mark.
Off a turnover by Devils defenseman Brian Rafalski, the Bruins worked a quick three-way passing play that Lapointe finished with a tap-in from the top of the crease.
“The way things have been working for Marty (Lapointe), he’s been working so hard,” Knuble said. “It’s been the season of hell for him. He’s doing all the right stuff every day at practice. He’s working harder than everybody at practices. The guy can score goals, it’s just ridiculous what’s happening to him.”
Brodeur faced 20 shots before he was replaced by Corey Schwab, who was perfect the rest of the way.
“It’s a disappointing loss at this time of year to be making mistakes I personally made,” Brodeur said. “It’s disappointing letting my teammates down. I’ll take responsibility and we’ll move on to the next game.”
“We had some good scoring chances early in the game that we could have gotten … and we didn’t put them in. And then five minutes. They scored three in five minutes,” said Devils coach Pat Burns, who used his timeout in the second period to give his team a tongue-lashing.
Patrik Elias reversed the momentum with 7:10 to go in the period and Scott Gomez got the Devils within 4-3 with 3:39 left.
But Jeff Hackett stopped all eight shots in the third period and finished with 27 saves for Boston.