NEWARK, N.J. - Scott Clemmensen had his second straight shutout after going nearly five years without one in the NHL, and Bryce Salvador provided a rare bit of offence as the New Jersey Devils beat the Boston Bruins 1-0 on Friday night.
Clemmensen, still subbing for the soon-to-return Martin Brodeur, is staking his claim for more playing time down the stretch after the four-time Vezina Trophy winner comes back from the elbow injury that has sidelined him most of the season.
Clemmensen snapped his shutout drought Monday night with a 27-save, 3-0 win over the New York Rangers, his first blanking since March 2004, and duplicated the feat four days later against the NHL-leading Bruins.
Boston is 10 points ahead of New Jersey, its closest pursuer in the East.
Salvador scored his first goal in 22 games 10:54 into the second period, and Clemmensen made it stand up by stopping 31 shots - 13 in the middle frame - for his fourth NHL shutout.
Tim Thomas made 17 saves, but would surely want Salvador's hopping shot back.
The Devils are 3-1 on their homestand that concludes Sunday against San Jose, the top team in the West. Kevin Weekes earned the victory Wednesday against the New York Islanders.
After the Bruins and Devils were denied during prime scoring chances, Salvador turned a seemingly simple play into the game's only goal. John Madden won a faceoff in the right circle back to Salvador in the slot. The defenceman calmly snapped off a wrist shot that dipped and bounced past Thomas, who might have been screened by teammate Martins Karsums.
Salvador hadn't scored since Dec. 17 at Buffalo, his last game before an inner ear infection forced him to sit out the next five.
Boston dominated play in each of the first two periods and had nothing to show for it. The Bruins outshot the Devils 10-5 in the first period, despite giving up two power plays to New Jersey and not having any.
The Devils were fortunate not to give up a short-handed goal on their first chance when Boston controlled play in the offensive zone and had opportunities to broke the scoreless deadlock.
The pace was fast in the entertaining second period as the puck moved fluidly from end to end throughout. Boston again got the better of the play with a 13-8 edge in shots, but Clemmensen was the difference.
After Clemmensen knocked a quick shot away with his glove, Vladimir Sobotka charged toward the loose puck and an open right side of the net in front of him. Sobotka nudged the puck as he was falling and caught the right post. Clemmensen sprawled on his stomach with his stick outstretched to keep Sobotka from getting another swipe.
Notes: Eight of Salvador's 10 points (three goals, seven assists) have come at home. ... The Bruins were without forwards Chuck Kobasew and Petteri Nokelainen, who were both injured in Tuesday's home loss to San Jose. Neither player travelled to New Jersey for the start of a five-game road trip that continues Saturday at Nashville. The Bruins' next home game is Feb. 24 versus Florida. ... Each team recorded only one shot in the first eight minutes of the third period. ... Boston was 0-for-2 on the power play and has failed to click with the advantage in seven of eight games (2-for-31).