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Rested Devils get second crack at Bruins

Dec 23, 2022; Newark, New Jersey, USA;  Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) controls the puck while New Jersey Devils center Jesper Boqvist (70) defends during the first period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins will try to beat the New Jersey Devils on the road for the second time in six days when the teams meet Wednesday night.

The Devils have been idle since that contest, while the Bruins returned from their holiday break on Tuesday and lost 3-2 in a shootout to the host Ottawa Senators.

On Friday in Newark, N.J., David Pastrnak scored two of Boston’s four second-period goals and Linus Ullmark made 37 saves to help the Bruins defeat the Devils. Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk also scored for Boston, which carried a 4-1 lead into the third period.

“You look at the second period, probably our best opportunities to score, breakaway, off the iron a couple of times. We don’t,” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “We made a couple big mistakes. I didn’t like our puck play. I didn’t like our determination on a couple goals against. At the same time maybe get a save, too.”

Jack Hughes, Tomas Tatar and Yegor Sharangovich scored for New Jersey in the loss. Hughes leads the team in goals (18) and points (39) this season.

Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood allowed four goals on 18 shots before he was pulled and replaced by Vitek Vanecek after two periods.

“We’d like Blackwood to be better,” Ruff said. “There were a couple saves you’d like to get. We didn’t get them. We tried to look for a little bit of a spark by putting V in and saying if you can keep him there, maybe we can get back in. And we almost did.”

Vanecek has a 12-4-0 record with a 2.41 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 22 games (19 starts) this season. Blackwood is 5-3-0 with a 2.96 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage in 10 appearances (nine starts).

“We made some mistakes, they made some good plays,” Blackwood said. “I screwed up a little bit, so just a combination of everything.”

The Devils are 1-6-1 in their past eight games and have a 3-6-2 record in December.

Boston had its four-game winning streak end on Tuesday in Ottawa, but the Bruins still extended their point streak to eight games (6-0-2). Jeremy Swayman made 30 saves in the loss, but Cam Talbot stopped 49 shots for Ottawa.

The Bruins put 27 shots on goal in the third period while getting the tying tally from Pavel Zacha with 3:33 left in regulation. Zacha ended his 17-game goalless streak, and DeBrusk also scored for Boston.

“The big thing is when you come back from three days off and a lot of time away from the rink … you just want to get better every period,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “We did get better every period, especially in the third we got to our game. So we’re really happy about that.

“We would have liked to have the outcome. Jeremy Swayman did everything he could to give us the opportunity.”

The Bruins own the third-best power-play percentage in the NHL (.293), but they failed to score in three man-advantage opportunities. The loss dropped Boston’s road record to 9-4-1.

The Devils remain without defensemen John Marino (upper body) and Ryan Graves (lower body), who are listed as week-to-week. New Jersey recalled defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk from Utica of the AHL prior to the Friday matchup with Boston, and the 22-year-old Russian played in his first NHL game of the season.

–Field Level Media