Bruins 3, Devils 1
Glen Murray set up a goal and scored another in a big first-period, and the Bruins won the Northeast Division title and helped take away the Atlantic Division crown from the Devils with a 3-1 win on Sunday.
“It’s absolutely a relief,” goaltender Andrew Raycroft said after the Bruins bounced back from a loss at home to New Jersey to win the division. “It’s a huge win going into the playoffs, coming on the road and beating New Jersey at home. It gives us a lot of confidence.”
The Bruins, who played without star center Joe Thornton for the second straight game because of what’s being called an upper body injury by the team, will face the Montreal Canadiens in a best-of-7 series starting on Wednesday in Boston.
The Bruins, the second seed in the Eastern Conference, won the season series with the seventh-seeded Canadiens 3-0-1-2.
“I think our confidence going in is as good as it has ever been since I’ve been here,” Bruins forward Mike Knuble said. “Guys around here, I don’t know if it’s the lockout or what, but guys are ready to bear down and play well.”
The Devils didn’t do that in blowing a chance to win a second straight division title.
New Jersey would have won the Atlantic with a second straight win over the Bruins.
However, the Devils come out flat in the first period, letting the Bruins score three times.
Coupled with the Flyers’ 3-3 tie with the New York Islanders, the Devils finished a point behind Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division.
The Flyers, the third seed, will now have home-ice advantage in their first-round series with New Jersey, the sixth seed.
Philadelphia won the season series, taking the final three games.
“It is a big deal,” Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. “We had a chance. It was in our hands. They (the Bruins) really wanted it. I thought we played pretty good but they got some breaks early and they sat on the lead.”
The Devils posted a 12-1 record at the Continental Airlines Arena last year in winning their third title since 1995.
After failing to win the division title at home Saturday in a 5-2 loss to the Devils, the Bruins needed a win to secure their second division title in three years.
While they were without Thornton, the good news was the Bruins were on the road, where they had gotten points in 15 of their last 16 games.
The Bruins dominated from the start, scoring twice in the opening 2:51 and three times in the first 15:17, while limiting New Jersey to one shot.
“We’re thrilled,” Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We had an opportunity to win our division, arguably the best division in the NHL. That was something we wanted to accomplish.”
Green put the Bruins ahead 57 seconds after the opening faceoff. Murray made a check behind the goal line that allowed Patrice Bergeron to pass the puck in front. It hit off the skate of the Devils’ John Madden, and Green fired it past Brodeur.
Samsonov beat Brodeur with a shot from above the left circle after taking a drop pass from Nylander to make it 3-0.
Patrik Elias had the Devils’ best chances in the first two periods. He had a power-play shot hit off the post in the first period and he was stopped in close by Raycroft in the second period, when chants of “Let’s go Islanders” could be heard in the arena.
It didn’t work.
Raycroft lost his shutout when Jamie Langenbrunner scored on a power play with less than nine minutes to play.
The game got a little chippy in the final 10 minutes after Bruins defenseman Dan McGillis hit Brian Gionta with an elbow in the head. Hal Gill of Boston andStevenson fought during the ensuing power play.
Devils D Brian Rafalski returned to the lineup after missing 12 games with a broken leg. … The Devils finished with a season-low 14 shots. Their previous season low 17 on two occasions. The Devils set an NHL record allowing 164 goals, the fewest allowed in an 80-game plus season. St. Louis had the oldmark, 165 in 1999-2000.