EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Brian Gionta scored the game-winner in his first game in almost a month, Jay Pandolfo tallied twice and the New Jersey Devils took the lead in the Atlantic Division with a 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
The Devils' fourth win in five games gave them 102 points and moved them a point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the lead in the division and the No. 2 seed overall in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have three games left in the regular season.
Martin Brodeur made 17 saves to post his 46th win of the season, one shy of the NHL single-season mark set by Bernie Parent in 1973-74.
Petr Kalus scored for the Bruins. The Czech rookie has taken three shots since being called up from the minor leagues six games ago and he has scored on every one.
Gionta, who had missed 19 of the past 21 games with a groin injury, got one of his pesky in-close goals to break a 1-1 tie midway through the second period.
With New Jersey on its fourth power play, Gionta deflected a Zach Parise shot. Boston goaltender Tim Thomas got a piece of the puck and it died on the goal line. However, Gionta reached behind him and swatted it into the net.
Kalus also scored on the power play, taking a nice pass by Petr Tenkrat from behind the net and ripping it past Brodeur about three minutes before Gionta's 25th goal of the season.
Pandolfo iced the game with just under six minutes to play by beating Thomas from the right circle for his 13th goal of the season.
Pandolfo had given New Jersey the lead a little more than two minutes after the opening faceoff, tipping a centring pass by Erik Rasmussen over Thomas, who finished with 21 saves.
Notes: Devils C Scott Gomez missed the game with a bruised thigh. Veteran Sergei Brylin moved from wing and centred a line with Patrik Elias and Gionta. ...Thomas got a few laughs when he fell trying to get off the ice on a delayed penalty in the second period. He got a standing ovation going back to the net, but got the last laugh when Kalus scored. The crowd of 14,378 also got a few laughs when a bird in the arena landed on the ice - behind the play - in the second period, and once during a fan goal-scoring contest between periods.