NEWARK, N.J. - Tim Thomas made 25 saves and Milan Lucic broke a scoreless tie early in the third period and the Boston Bruins beat the New Jersey Devils 2-0 on Tuesday night.
The Bruins, the Eastern Conference leaders, extended their winning streak to six, their longest stretch since last season. The only negative for Boston was the end of Phil Kessel's point scoring streak, snapped after 18 games.
Lucic scored 49 seconds into the third period. Zdeno Chara fired a hard shot from the top of the right circle that Scott Clemmensen blocked. The rebound came right to Lucic, positioned between the hash marks and he buried the shot.
Thomas, recording his third shutout this season and 10th of his career, made the goal stand up with solid stops on Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus in the final four minutes. David Krejci added an empty-net goal to seal the win.
The Devils, coping with the loss of four-time Vezina Trophy winner Martin Brodeur until February or March, were 12-2-1 in the their previous 15 games. Clemmensen made 22 saves but it wasn't enough to extend New Jersey's three-game winning streak.
It was also a matchup of two of the top defensive teams in the conference and both sides played up to that level.
Each team had nine shots in the scoreless first period, and an equal number of quality chances. Clemmensen stopped Chuck Kobasew's drive off the left wing and Michael Ryder's close-in bid. At the other end, Brian Rolston hit the post.
The Bruins and Devils again had nine shots each in the second period. New Jersey had an outstanding opportunity when Jamie Langenbrunner and Patrik Elias zipped into the Bruins zone on a 2-on-1 break with four minutes remaining. Langenbrunner, on the right side, unloaded a hard shot that Thomas stopped. Alert backchecking by Blake Wheeler kept Elias from getting a clean shot at the rebound.
Notes: John Madden returned for the Devils after missing two games with the flu. D Bryce Salvador sat a third straight game with an upper-body injury. ... C Patrice Bergeron remained sidelined for the Bruins with a concussion suffered on Dec. 20 against the Hurricanes. ... The game was the second of a five-game road trip for the Bruins who move on to Carolina, Atlanta and Pittsburgh following the two-day Christmas break. ... Thomas got the nod for the Bruins even though Manny Fernandez had won the past two games. ... Clemmensen, a standout at Boston College, is (2-1-0) versus the Bruins. ... Shawn Thornton and Mike Rupp fought midway through the second period after Rupp delivered crunching hits on Dennis Widerman and Vladimir Sobotka. ... Elias had picked up a point in 10 straight games.