EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - The New Jersey Devils got a win from a goalie who hadn't won in nearly three months and the first goal in six games from their second-leading scorer. It all came on an emotional night when they retired the jersey of one of the franchise's most revered players.
Not a bad evening for a team that has struggled lately to put some distance between itself and the teams chasing it for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Scott Gomez broke out of a scoring drought with a goal and an assist and Scott Clemmensen won in his first start in nearly three months in New Jersey's 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday night.
Gomez was a question mark after getting hit in the face by a puck in New Jersey's 6-5 overtime loss to Atlanta on Thursday night. But wearing a protective visor and getting eye drops from the team trainer between shifts, he scored his 25th goal of the season in the first minute and the Devils never trailed as they won for just the second time in their last seven games.
"The doctor said I might be little blurry, but if you can play, you can play," said Gomez, who sported a sizable bruise under his right eye. "I never liked wearing the visor, but as much as I hate it, there are no excuses at this time of year."
The win put the Devils three points ahead of the eight-place Thrashers, who were idle Friday, in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Montreal is one point behind Atlanta.
On a night when the Devils retired former defenseman Ken Daneyko's No. 3, they got a win from Clemmensen in his first start since Dec. 29. He had done mop-up duty for Martin Brodeur in back-to-back losses two weeks ago, which actually helped him against Boston.
"When I got to play a couple of weeks ago, that kind of helped me get my feet wet again," he said. "With the way things are going, this was a big game for us."
Brian Gionta, Zach Parise and Paul Martin also scored for New Jersey, and Clemmensen stopped 25 shots. Glen Murray and Brad Isbister scored for Boston, which lost its third straight game. Isbister's goal came with 45 seconds left in the game.
Parise's 10th goal of the season chased Boston goalie Andrew Raycroft, who gave up three goals on 15 shots. The Bruins fell 10 points behind Atlanta for the final playoff spot with 11 games to go.
"We can feel bad for ourselves, but no one else is going to," said Raycroft. "We've just got to go out and battle for each other. We have no choice."
Raycroft was replaced by Tim Thomas, who gave up one of the more inexplicable goals of the season to Martin in the third period.
The Devils' defenseman flipped the puck off the boards and into the Bruins' zone from two lines away and the puck advanced slowly to Thomas, who looked like Bill Buckner trying to grab Mookie Wilson's grounder in the 1986 World Series.
Notes: Gionta's power-play goal in the first period was his 20th extra-strength goal of the season, breaking the team record set by current Devils assistant coach John McLean in 1990-91 ... Among the celebrities on hand for the Daneyko ceremony were former New York Jets defensive lineman Joe Klecko and former heavyweight boxer Gerry Cooney.
|Scott Gomez (25) ASST: Brian Gionta (29), Tommy Albelin (6)|
1 - 0 NJD
|PPG - Brian Gionta (39) ASST: Jamie Langenbrunner (29), Scott Gomez (39)|
2 - 0 NJD
|Zach Parise (10) ASST: Paul Martin (28), Erik Rasmussen (5)|
3 - 0 NJD
|Glen Murray (22) ASST: Marty Reasoner (19), Brad Isbister (13)|
3 - 1 NJD
|PPG - Paul Martin (5) ASST: Colin White (13), Sergei Brylin (19)|
4 - 1 NJD
|Brad Isbister (6) ASST: Andrew Alberts (5)|
4 - 2 NJD
|Brad Isbister Holding against Zach Parise|
|Ken Klee Hooking against Brad Isbister|
|Jamie Langenbrunner Hooking against Travis Green|
|Brad Boyes Hi-sticking against John Madden|
|Sergei Brylin Hi-sticking|
|Glen Murray Tripping against Ken Klee|
|Erik Rasmussen Interference against Nick Boynton|