NEWARK, N.J. -- Boston Bruins rookie forward Ryan Spooner realizes now is the time to prove he can contribute in a big way with some key players out of the lineup because of injury.
The 23-year-old did just that when he scored his first NHL goal with 2:14 remaining in overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday.
Spooner, a third-round pick (No. 45) in the 2010 NHL Draft, certainly seemed like the most relieved player in the dressing room after scoring for the first time in 35 NHL games. His goal gave the Bruins their second victory in nine games (2-5-2).
The win moved Boston (30-22-9) four points ahead of the Florida Panthers for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Boston, which has 21 games remaining, opens a four-game homestand against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
Spooner finished a 4-on-2 transition rush when his shot from the left circle deflected off the stick of Devils forward Adam Henrique into the top left corner. The Bruins caught Patrik Elias and Martin Havlat deep in the attacking zone on the odd-man rush.
"That's what happens in the overtime sometimes," Devils interim co-coach Lou Lamoriello said. "We got caught and they came back, and the puck unfortunately went off Adam's stick."
The Devils tied the game with two goals in the third period.
"I came off the bench and it was 4-on-2 and I got a great pass [from David Pastrnak]; I'm not sure if it went off their guys' stick but I'm just happy I scored," Spooner said. "I was honestly shocked. I was like, 'Oh wow, it actually went in.'"
Spooner, who played on a line with Milan Lucic and Pastrnak, will be looked to for production down the stretch while forwards David Krejci (left knee) and Gregory Campbell (upper body) are out with injuries.
Daniel Paille and Pastrnak scored for the Bruins. Niklas Svedberg, who started because Tuukka Rask was ill, made 29 saves.
Jordin Tootoo and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider made 31 saves.
"I think the first half was fairly easy [for Svedberg], but once they got the momentum and started feeling it and tied the game, there was pressure on him and he was making the saves," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I thought he did a good job of fighting through it. I told him this morning that there's a possibility he would be playing and he looked good at the morning skate. He looked determined to turn it around."
Svedberg made 14 saves in a 3-0 victory against the Devils on Jan. 8. In his most recent start, Feb. 10, he allowed three goals on 10 shots in the first period and was replaced by Rask to start the second in a 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars. Rask is questionable for the game against the Coyotes.
The Devils (25-27-10) closed a six-homestand 4-1-1 with two straight losses. They visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday before returning home for three games beginning Tuesday against the Nashville Predators. Lamoriello said Schneider would make his NHL-leading 54th start of the season against the Blue Jackets.
"We need every point we can get, there's no question," Lamoriello said. "We came back and played extremely well. We had scoring chances and Cory kept us in there."
Tootoo, who provided plenty of energy and had five hits, tied the game 8:06 into the third off a superb effort by Mike Cammalleri. After battling through a check by Zdeno Chara and drawing a delayed penalty, Cammalleri sent a back pass to Tootoo, who beat Svedberg. The goal extended Tootoo's point streak to a season-high five games (two goals, three assists).
"Tootoo woke us up," Lamoriello said. "Sometimes it's a big hit and sometimes a fight, but his big hit turned things around."
Svedberg made a great right-pad save against Stephen Gionta with 5:09 left in regulation from the slot and stopped Cammalleri in the closing seconds. Schneider denied Pastrnak with his right pad off an uncontested slap shot from the right hash with 1:51 left.
"I needed the win personally, and for the team as well," Svedberg said. "I was focused on the game and couldn't get too nervous. I believed in my game and I thought, technically, I played well."
Zajac scored for the first time in 15 games when he connected for a power-play goal 5:57 into the third. He took a pass from Henrique in the left circle and shot into the left corner of the net.
"We probably couldn't [afford to give two points to Boston] with the situation we were in," Zajac said. "We were fortunate to battle back, but that's all you can do. We have to come back [Saturday]."
Pastrnak, the youngest player in the NHL at 18 years and nine months, gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead when he scored his seventh of the season at 1:40 of the third, snapping a shot from the slot into the net. Schneider complained that Bruins forward Chris Kelly had interfered with him on the play, but the goal stood.
"I thought he impeded my ability find the puck and save it, but obviously the referee didn't see it that way," Schneider said. "You just have to live with it. We didn't get down and were able to tie it up."
Paille gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead 8:39 into the first period when he converted a pass from Loui Eriksson in the slot after a turnover by Devils defenseman Adam Larsson in the left-wing corner.
Paille has shown renewed energy after sitting out as a healthy scratch for two games before returning to the lineup in a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. Paille scored his first goal in 37 games that night and has been effective on a line with Carl Soderberg and Eriksson.
"We'll take the positives and enjoy this one and get ready for [Saturday]," Svedberg said. "Whatever happens we just need to be ready and move forward."
The Bruins are 15-3-0 in their past 18 games against the Devils.