NEWARK, N.J. — Patrice Bergeron turned defense into offense against the New Jersey Devils and led the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins to a laugher.
Bergeron scored two goals Wednesday night in the Bruins’ 6-1 win over the Devils.
“It’s something really important,” said Bergeron, who scored his first of the night on a breakaway he created after blocking a shot at the blue line. “You want to defend when someone is in a shooting zone, but to turn it into a goal and make them pay is a big turnaround. I want to be in those situations.”
Bergeron pushed the Bruins’ lead to 3-1 early in the second period, right after a penalty toBruins forward Nathan Horton was about to expire. Devils rookie defenseman Adam Larsson attempted a shot from the point, but it was blocked by Bergeron, who got the puck and skated in alone on Martin Brodeur and scored at 4:02 of the second.
Bergeron added his second goal of the game and ninth of the season in the third period, when Boston scored three times to put the game away.
Tim Thomas made 30 saves for the Bruins, who got back on track after their seven-game winning streak was snapped Saturday against Dallas. Boston (25-10-1) moved within one point of the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers.
“It was a tighter game than the score indicates,” Thomas said. “If Bergeron doesn’t get that fourth goal, it might have ended up differently. They had some sneaky chances on me, but it was nice that we scored a few more times to make it look easier.”
Shawn Thornton, who scored the Bruins’ last goal, said Bergeron is a difference maker.
“He’s arguably the best two-way player in the game,” said Thornton, who had a long fight with Cam Janssen in the opening minutes. “The things he does out there are amazing. He gives us such a boost the way he comes up with plays like that. If a team makes a mistake, he’s always in the right place.”
New Jersey (21-16-2) had dropped two straight after winning two in a row and seven of nine.
Gregory Campbell got Boston even at 1 in the first period, and Horton scored his fifth power-play goal of the season to give the Bruins the lead. David Krejci and Thornton added goals in the third.
David Clarkson put the Devils on top early with his team-leading 14th goal, but it wasn’t enough to keep New Jersey from its most-lopsided loss since a 6-1 defeat at Colorado on Nov. 30.
“I can’t sugarcoat it,” said Brodeur, who surrendered a season-high six goals. “They dictated the game. We got our butts kicked in pretty good. We tried to match up against the best team in the league and we failed. But it’s not the end of the world. We’ll take this and get back to work. We always have the next day to work on what we know we did wrong.”
Shortly after Thornton and Janssen fought, Devils captain Zach Parise stole the puck, skated up left wing and sent a pass to Clarkson, who fired a wrist shot past Thomas at 4:24 for a power-play goal that made it 1-0.
The Bruins then stormed back.
A wrist shot by Boston defenseman Andrew Ference hit Campbell on the right skate in front and deflected past Brodeur, who made his fourth straight start. He had won five of seven.
“We didn’t handle the puck off the skate well,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “We need to be a little tougher mentally to overcome that. After that, there weren’t a lot of good things that happened.”
A few minutes later, Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder was whistled for delay of game, and the Bruins capitalized. Horton scored his 10th of the season when he took a pass from Krejci in front. Horton’s shot was initially deflected by Brodeur, but the puck trickled in to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead at 13:17 of the first.
Boston broke the game open in the third on Bergeron’s second of the game and a goal from Krejci in a span of two minutes.
“I don’t think we throw this one out,” DeBoer said. “We played the Stanley Cup champ when they were healthy and rested. We wanted to raise the bar to meet them and now we know how high we have to raise the bar. It’s a good lesson for all of us.”
NOTES: Devils C Travis Zajac sat out because of swelling in his Achilles. He has played in eight games since returning from offseason surgery on his Achilles. … Devils D Anton Volchenkov, who sustained an undisclosed lower body injury in the Devils’ win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, also sat out. He skated with the team Wednesday morning. … Devils C Jacob Josefson, out with a broken collarbone sustained in October, skated before the game and is close to returning. … Krejci has a six-game point streak.