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Devils beat Bruins 4-3 in OT

by John Kreiser
The New Jersey Devils are proving to everyone that they're for real. The Boston Bruins are sure to agree.

The Devils won their seventh in a row with a 4-3 overtime win against the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden. On a night when goals were going into the net in all sorts of odd ways, Jamie Langenbrunner won it 1:11 into OT when he picked up a blocked shot that had deflected off another body and swept the puck past Tim Thomas.

"There were a lot of strange goals out there," said Devils coach Brent Sutter, whose team blew a 2-0 lead by giving up three third-period goals before Patrik Elias had the puck go off his skate and into the net to tie it 3-3 with 1:45 left in regulation. "It was a good hockey game, obviously, but there was some weird stuff that certainly happened."

The Devils increased their Atlantic Division lead over the second-place New York Rangers to three points and moved past Washington, the Southeast Division leader, and into second place in the Eastern Conference, 11 points behind the Bruins.

Langenbrunner said the game showed the Devils can play with anyone.

''They're the team that everybody needs to measure themselves against, and rightfully so,'' he said. ''They've had a great year, and we just wanted to see if we could play with them. I think we proved a little something to ourselves tonight that if we're on top of our game we can.''

The parade of odd-looking goals started when Langenbrunner gave the Devils a 1-0 lead with 4:59 left in the first period by putting the puck off both of Thomas' pads before it squeaked across the goal line for a shorthanded goal. The Devils made it 2-0 at 6:21 of the second period when Zach Parise set up behind the net and bounced the puck off Thomas' back and into the net.

But then it was Boston's turn to get some bounces.

The Bruins cut the deficit to 2-1 at 2:19 of the third period when Devils goaltender Scott Clemmensen went behind the net to play the puck -- but instead left it there for Boston's Chuck Kobasew, who swept it around and into the post. Kobasew got the rebound into the net, and Clemmensen gloved the puck out of the air, but the replay showed that it had gone over the line.

''It was a battle of who was going to score the most goals on themselves,'' Thomas said.

Marc Savard tied it at 7:11 by taking Milan Lucic's passout and wristing it between Clemmensen and the left post just before being flattened. Dennis Wideman scored a more conventional-looking goal, blasting a screened slap shot from the right point past Scott Clemmensen with 6:30 to play to put Boston ahead.

"Our guys did a good job of getting ourselves back in the game," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It was a game where you really have to work hard to score goals. There wasn't a ton of pretty ones."

But with the sellout crowd in Boston starting to smell victory, Elias crashed the net and had Brian Gionta's pass from the left boards hit his skate and deflect into the net. The goal was allowed after a video review.

"I was a little disappointed at the way we stopped playing -- we stopped skating," Elias said. "But we stayed with it, and we got a lucky break. Sometimes you just have to throw the puck at the net."

Despite the absence of All-Star goaltender Martin Brodeur, the Devils have climbed into the NHL's elite.

"To do this on the road against one of the best teams in the League -- to give up the lead, come back and tie it and win in overtime -- says a lot about the character of our team," Clemmensen said. "It shows a lot. This was a character win."

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.

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