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Bruins get 2012 started by battling Devils

by Brian Hunter
BRUINS (24-10-1) at DEVILS (21-15-2)


Last 10:
Boston 7-3-0; New Jersey 7-2-1

Season Series: Second of four meetings. The defending Stanley Cup champions claimed a 4-3 win at TD Garden on Nov. 15 in a game featuring a wild third period. Nick Palmieri erased a pair of one-goal deficits for the Devils, but the Bruins eventually got the game-winner from Benoit Pouliot with 3:01 remaining.

Big Story:
This will be just the third game Boston has played in the past 12 days, and the first in 2012. Will all the rest help the Bruins or slow the momentum of the tear they've been on since the beginning of November? They're coming off only their third regulation loss and fourth defeat overall during that stretch, in Dallas on New Year's Eve.

Team Scope:

Bruins: Already owners of the NHL's longest winning streak this season at 10 games, Boston was bidding for an eighth consecutive victory last Saturday to close out a memorable 2011. The Stars weren't interested in adding to the Bruins' nostalgia, however, and used a three-goal first period to deal their visitors a 4-2 loss. Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic scored, but Boston found itself shorthanded six times in the first 40 minutes and yielded a pair of power-play goals.

"They played well and you have to give them credit," captain Zdeno Chara said in the Boston Herald. "But we didn't play our game. Credit to them, but we need to be better for 60 minutes. We played pretty good for 20, 30 (minutes) at the most, but that's not good enough to win a game."

Devils: Third periods and shorthanded goals have provided New Jersey with its share of struggles at times this season, and the two combined again to spell disaster Monday in Ottawa. The Devils were trying to add to a 2-1 lead in the final seconds of a power play when Filip Kuba collected a loose puck in the neutral zone and sent Erik Condra in for a shot that ticked off the stick of defenseman Matt Taormina and past Martin Brodeur for the tying goal. A penalty to David Clarkson in overtime led to Daniel Alfredsson's power-play goal and a 3-2 defeat.

"We had them down," Clarkson, who scored for the Devils along with Dainius Zubrus, said in the Newark Star-Ledger. "Ottawa's a good team. They skate well. They do a lot of good things. We need to have a bit of a better third, but the bottom line is that penalty at the end cost us. I've got to be smarter than that. That's a tough loss."

Who's Hot: David Krejci has 2 goals and 4 assists during a five-game points streak for the Bruins. Dennis Seidenberg has 2 goals and 2 assists during a three-game points streak. Lucic has 3 goals in the last four games. … Clarkson has 3 goals in the last four games and leads the Devils with 14 for the season.

Injury Report:
New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov could return to the lineup after missing Monday's game against his former team with a lower-body injury. Forward Jacob Josefson is skating with the team again and getting closer to returning from a broken collarbone. Defenseman Andy Greene is still recovering from a broken toe.

Stat Pack:
Prior to yielding the two power-play goals to the Stars, the Bruins had killed off 39 of their previous 40 shorthanded situations. … Zubrus scored the 200th goal of his career against the Senators and linemate Petr Sykora picked up an assist for his 699th point.

Puck Drop:
New Jersey has scored 18 power-play goals this season (13.3-percent efficiency, 27th in the NHL) and given up a League-high 12 shorthanded goals, more than double the total of any other team. Boston, by contrast, has the 11th-best power play at 18.9 percent and is the only NHL team not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season.

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