Pastrnak and Ullmark lead Bruins past struggling Devils, 4-3
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — David Pastrnak scored two of Boston’s four second-period goals, and linemates David Krejci and Pavel Zacha each had two assists in the Bruins’ 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk also scored for the Bruins, and Linus Ullmark made 36 saves in his NHL-best 19th win. Boston has won four in a row and leads the NHL with 56 points entering the Christmas break.
“We got to how we want to play pretty quick,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “After 10 games, I think we were there, and I think the confidence has just grown and I think we’re just deep and we can come at people wave after wave.”
Jack Hughes, Tomas Tatar and Yegor Sharangovich scored for New Jersey. Mackenzie Blackwood made 14 saves before getting pulled after two periods. The Devils lost for the seventh time in eight games (1-6-1) and dropped to 3-6-2 in December.
“We made some mistakes, they made some good plays,” Blackwood said. “I screwed up a little bit, so just a combination of everything.”
Boston improved to 9-4-1 when allowing the first goal, the best mark in the NHL, and won despite giving up the opening score for the second consecutive night.
“I think obviously teams are ready for us; they’re going to come to play their best games,” DeBrusk said. “We obviously want to score the first goal of the game, our record is pretty good when we score first, so it’s one of those things where we want to do that, but we understand we can come back and it’s about making adjustments and getting to our game.”
The Bruins struck for three goals in the first 10 minutes of the second, with Pastrnak scoring his 23rd and 24th goals of the season.
Bergeron tied it with his 13th goal at 3:12, then Pastrnak gave Boston a 2-1 lead when he put the rebound of Krejci’s shot between Blackwood’s pads at 4:34.
“Just playing and having a lot of fun, and the puck is going in,” Pastrnak said. “I’ve been shooting a lot. I think that’s big. So, just happy that it’s going in.”
New Jersey had chances to score during that stretch, but Ullmark slid across to deny Nico Hischier on a 2-on-1 break and Tatar rang a shot off the crossbar — one of two posts the Devils hit in the second.
“You look at the second period, we probably had our best opportunities to score,” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “Breakaway, 2-on-1, off the iron a couple of times. We don’t, and then we made a couple big mistakes.”
Pastrnak made it 3-1 when he beat Blackwood clean with a snap shot at 9:52. DeBrusk capped the huge second with his 13th goal off a pass from linemate Brad Marchand at 17:27.
“I just tried to get myself a little bit (of) space towards the net and knew I had to elevate (the puck),” DeBrusk said. “It was a great play by (Marchand). He passed it through a stick and it was a tap-in.”
Tatar and Sharangovich scored to cut Boston’s lead to 4-3, but Ullmark held off New Jersey, stopping 14 shots in the third.
Hughes broke the ice with his 18th goal, third in New Jersey’s past five games, and fourth on the power play at 16:36 of the first.
New Jersey could have had a larger lead if not for Ullmark. He made 10 saves in the first period, then stopped Miles Wood on a breakaway early in the second with the Devils up 1-0.
“He’s been outstanding,” Pastrnak said of Ullmark. “Obviously, he’s standing on his head, making some big saves. We’re all very happy for him.”
NOTES: Hughes played in his 200th NHL game. … Zacha, who was selected by New Jersey with the sixth pick of the 2015 NHL draft and played his first 386 games for the Devils, was honored by the team with a tribute video during the first period. … Nikita Okhotiuk, recalled by the Devils from Albany of the AHL on Thursday, played his first NHL game of the season and had an assist. Okhotiuk stepped in for defensemen Ryan Graves (lower body) and John Marino (upper body), who each missed the game due to injury. … Bruins forward A.J. Greer, who played 10 games over two seasons for New Jersey from 2020-22, returned to the lineup after being scratched the previous three games. Greer replaced Craig Smith, who was a scratch.
Boston: At Ottawa on Tuesday.
New Jersey: Hosts Boston again Wednesday after the holiday break.
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