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Devils, Clemmensen blank Bruins 1-0

by Brian Hunter
Shutouts have suddenly become a Scott Clemmensen specialty.

The New Jersey Devils goaltender isn't a threat to catch this season's NHL leader, Steve Mason of Columbus, and when it comes to career stats he's still 94 behind the guy he's spent much of his career backing up, future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur.

Over the past week, however, Clemmensen has been racking up the scoreless minutes.

Bryce Salvador scored midway through the second period and Clemmensen made 31 saves for his second consecutive shutout and the fourth of his career as the Devils edged the League-leading Boston Bruins 1-0 on Friday night at the Prudential Center.

New Jersey, which opened up a nine-point lead in the Atlantic Division, has won two of three from Boston this season and closed within 10 points of the Bruins for the Eastern Conference lead.

"It's a matter of us coming out and playing consistently well -- especially at home -- and showing that we belong, make that next step to play and compete and beat these elite-level teams," Clemmensen said. "If we're going to make that push to be the elite-level caliber in this League, we've got to beat Boston."

After going almost five years without an NHL shutout, Clemmensen blanked the New York Rangers 3-0 on Monday. He extended his career-long scoreless streak to more than 145 minutes by shutting down the East's top-ranked offense -- the Bruins held a 31-18 advantage in shots over the Devils but never got on the scoreboard.

"His confidence is building game by game," said center John Madden, whose faceoff win set up the only goal. "You're seeing something out of him that I'm sure he thought he had in there, and it's good to see he's doing well."

With the action on the ice playing out at a breakneck pace, Clemmensen and Tim Thomas matched each other save for save through the first half of the game, although Thomas was tested far less in spite of a couple first-period power plays to the Devils.

Even when New Jersey scored, it came in the blink of an eye. Madden won a draw in the Boston zone cleanly out to Salvador, and the stay-at-home defenseman wound up from the slot for a wrister that stayed low and slipped between Thomas' pads.

"I kind of had a feeling Madden there was going to win it on his backhand. It kind of just came right to my tape and I shot through the screen there and it had eyes and found the back of the net," said Salvador, who has scored three of his 19 career goals for the Devils this season.

It appeared Thomas might have been screened by teammate Martins Karsums, but the goalie said that wasn't the case.

"I picked it up right away. I had plenty of time," Thomas said. "I went to make sure I put in the corner with my stick. I moved my stick a little bit too fast. I basically fanned on it. There wasn't much traffic on that one.

"That was the easiest shot of the night. They kind of lull you to sleep. All of a sudden you get a shot that's so soft, you just miss it."

The Bruins, whose power play is mired in a 2-for-31 rut, had an opportunity with the man advantage prior to Salvador's goal and another chance in the third period but couldn't score.

Vladimir Sobotka had one of Boston's best scoring attempts late in the second period, when he charged to a loose puck following a Clemmensen glove save and rebound. Sobotka was falling to the ice as he nudged the puck toward the net, but it caught the right post and stayed out. Clemmensen then flopped on top of it and got the whistle.

The Devils also had to survive a frantic final minute after the Bruins pulled Thomas for a sixth attacker and had 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara stationed in front of Clemmensen, trying to set a screen for a potential tying goal that never came.

"It was a little bit of excitement, that's for sure," Devils coach Brent Sutter said.

"It was just relief, really," Clemmensen said of his reaction to the final horn. "Obviously a one-goal game there toward the end, 23 seconds left and the faceoff in our end … they had the puck there, but there were so many guys in front I didn't see it. I didn't see the puck at all for the last 20 seconds, so I was just thankful that buzzer went off."

When it did, Clemmensen had recorded the first back-to-back shutouts by a New Jersey goaltender since Brodeur accomplished the feat on Nov. 26-28, 2006. He also improved his record to 24-11-1 this season, tying Chris Terreri (1990-91) and Alain Chevrier (1986-87) for most wins in a single season by a Devils goalie other than Brodeur.

For the Bruins, it was their third straight loss -- the Flyers defeated them in overtime on Saturday and the West-leading Sharks rallied in the third period to beat them on Tuesday.

"We played a good game," Thomas said. "We could have easily won that game. We needed a couple of bounces and few pucks to go in. Clemmensen looked like he was in a zone. He played really well."

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

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