NEWARK, N.J. -- The Boston Bruins are providing a great example why they might be considered the team to beat in the Eastern Conference heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs next month.
The Bruins made good use of their deep bench, physicality and stellar goaltending in a 4-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday at Prudential Center. The Bruins got at least one point from 11 players to extend their winning streak to 10 games, the longest for the team since they won 10 in a row from Nov. 1-23, 2011.
It marks the third time in coach Claude Julien's seven seasons the Bruins have won 10 straight. Boston (47-17-5), which leads the Eastern Conference with 99 points, has outscored the opposition 41-15 and allowed two or fewer goals in nine of the games during this streak.
"I just think our guys have been playing hard throughout the whole lineup; we just finished five games in seven days and that's got to be tough on the players," Julien said. "To have that kind of success in that short span, you have to be able to utilize your whole bench as much as you can, and these guys have allowed [the coaches] to do that with their play."
The Bruins trail the St. Louis Blues by two points in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. Boston continues its three-game trip Friday against the Colorado Avalanche and Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Boston allowed a power-play goal for the first time in nine games when Patrik Elias fired a shot from the top of the right circle past Chad Johnson during a 5-on-3 advantage 29 seconds into the second period. That tied the game 1-1, but the Bruins regained the lead at 1:23 when Marchand scored his NHL-leading fifth shorthanded goal.
"They scored and we came right back to kill their momentum," Marchand said. "You can really take advantage of a team's power play sometimes. Most guys are thinking offense and not defense, and playing with [Bergeron on the penalty kill], I'm just trying to make plays and capitalize for him."
Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara chipped the puck off the boards to Marchand at center ice before he crossed the blue line and dished to Bergeron in the left circle. Bergeron found Marchand at the right hash and he one-timed a shot into the top right corner.
Iginla scored 59 seconds later to open a 3-1 lead. The goal was the 556th of his NHL career, tying Bruins legend Johnny Bucyk for 25th on the all-time list.
"We were a little disappointed we gave up the tying goal, but the next time out they scored the shorthanded goal and that gave us some life," Julien said. "It's about showing character, showing determination, and that's what we did."
Johnson, 9-0-1 in his past 10 starts, made 22 saves in his 15th win in 22 games.
"We don't win any battles, we don't compete," Devils forward Ryane Clowe said. "You're fighting for your playoff lives and you're playing a team that won nine in row. It's just we're a very passive team right now."
The Devils made it 4-2 when Zajac ripped a wrist shot from the right circle into the top left corner at 9:13. Kelly had given the Bruins a 4-1 lead 2:02 earlier when he converted a pass from Carl Soderberg in the slot.
"Depth is nice to have," Kelly said. "If you have one line that's doing the majority of the scoring it's easy to put your best defensive pairing against them. But when it's four lines, and even if they're not necessarily scoring every night but playing in the zone, it wears teams down. When you're in the defensive zone, you get tired pretty quick, and I think that's what we've been able to do."
The loss was the third straight for the Devils (29-27-13), who will play the second of a five-game homestand Thursday against the Minnesota Wild. Forward Zach Parise will play in New Jersey for the first time since he signed a 13-year contract with the Wild on July 4, 2012.
"Our effort is just not at the right point for the urgency that we need to make that push toward the playoffs," Brodeur said. "The coaches prepare us as well as they can. It's up to the guys in the locker room, the veteran leadership, to get everybody on the same page to play a certain way."
The Devils, outside a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, play nine of their remaining 13 games at home.
The Bruins dominated the first period, outshooting the Devils 15-5. Bergeron became the fourth Bruin to score at least 20 goals this season when he controlled a pass from Reilly Smith low in the left circle and pushed a backhand through Brodeur's legs at 14:33.
"You make your bed in this League, and the teams that earn their way into the playoffs get there, and right now we're not giving ourselves a chance to earn one of those spots," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I was really disappointed with our start. The first period was inexcusable for the situation we're in, and I don't have an answer why."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL
|Patrice Bergeron (20) ASST: Reilly Smith (28), Andrej Meszaros (14)|
1 - 0 BOS
|PPG - Patrik Elias (16) ASST: Travis Zajac (25), Michael Ryder (14)|
1 - 1 Tie
|SHG - Brad Marchand (22) ASST: Patrice Bergeron (28), Zdeno Chara (17)|
2 - 1 BOS
|Jarome Iginla (26) ASST: David Krejci (44), Torey Krug (23)|
3 - 1 BOS
|Chris Kelly (8) ASST: Carl Soderberg (28), Loui Eriksson (19)|
4 - 1 BOS
|Travis Zajac (13) ASST: Eric Gelinas (20), Jaromir Jagr (37)|
4 - 2 BOS
|Ryane Clowe Fighting (maj) against Milan Lucic|
|Milan Lucic Fighting (maj) against Ryane Clowe|
|Dougie Hamilton Charging against Tuomo Ruutu|
|Gregory Campbell Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Dougie Hamilton Hooking against Patrik Elias|
|Eric Gelinas Slashing against Loui Eriksson|
|Andy Greene Hooking against Loui Eriksson|
|Kevan Miller Tripping against Patrik Elias|