Preview: Bruins at Devils
The Boston Bruins could wind up with the second-best record in the NHL and still finish in second place in the Atlantic Division behind the runaway Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins will play six of their last nine away from home as they resume a four-game road trip against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
After getting pierced for 15 goals during a three-game skid, Boston responded by yielding one tally in back-to-back wins over Columbus and the New York Islanders. "For a full 60 (minutes), that's up there with one of the best 60s we've played this year," forward Sean Kuraly said after the Bruins limited New York to 13 shots in Tuesday's 5-0 drubbing. Boston has had trouble in splitting a pair of home matchups against the last-place Devils this season, dropping a 5-2 decision on Dec. 27 and squeezing out a 1-0 victory on March 2. New Jersey opened a four-game homestand with a 4-1 loss to Washington on Tuesday, its ninth defeat in 11 games (2-8-1).
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet360, Sportsnet East/Ontario/Pacific, NESN (Boston), MSG (New Jersey)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (44-20-9): While leading goal scorer David Pastrnak had a quiet return to the lineup after missing 16 games following thumb surgery, Boston had plenty of reasons to be encouraged offensively Tuesday. Jake DeBrusk, in his second game back after missing five, scored for the ninth time in his last 12 contests to bump his season total to 23 while the bottom six forwards also came through in a big way. Kuraly ended a 23-game goal drought by scoring twice and Noel Acciari also tallied after managing one assist in the previous eight games.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (27-38-9): New Jersey did not practice Wednesday so there was no update on the condition of leading scorer Kyle Palmieri, who was injured early in Tuesday's contest and did not return. Kenny Agostino, claimed off waivers from Montreal last month, scored for the third time in five games and has four goals and six assists in 19 contests with the Devils. "There needs to be a certain identity he needs to play with, and I think more often than not since we’ve had him, he’s made progress in that area," coach John Hynes said of Agostino.
1. Bruins G Tuukka Rask is 7-4-2 with a 1.47 goals-against average and three shutouts versus the Devils after blanking them earlier this month.
2. Devils G Mackenzie Blackwood has stopped 69 of 72 shots in two career starts versus Boston.
3. Bruins C Patrice Bergeron has 16 goals and 20 assists in 44 games against the Devils, including one of each this season.
PREDICTION: Bruins 4, Devils 2