For the Boston Bruins, Ryan Spooner could not have picked a better time to get his first NHL goal.
Spooner scored with 2:14 left in overtime and the Bruins defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Friday night to win for only the second time in nine games (2-5-2).
“It was important for a lot of reasons,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who saw his team blow a two-goal third-period lead. “We realize that they are not that far behind. We also realize there are a lot of teams that aren’t that far behind. Those two points become important.”
Spooner, playing in his eighth game this season, scored on a snap shot from the left boards on a counter attack. David Pastrnak made the cross-ice pass and Spooner beat Cory Schneider high with the puck deflecting off the stick of Devils defenseman Adam Larsson.
“I don’t know what I feel right now,” Spooner said. “It took me 35 games to score, so it feels great right now.”
The puck was in Spooner’s locker after the game.
Daniel Paille and Pastrnak scored for Boston, Niklas Svedberg had 29 saves starting for the ailing Tuukka Rask, who had played in the last 18 games for Boston.
“Personally, and for the team as well, I needed a good performance,” Svedberg said. “That’s the way it is. It was a big game in both aspects, so it feels really good. We had a tough stretch, but we battled through it.”
Travis Zajac and Jordin Tootoo tallied for New Jersey. Schneider made 31 saves as the Devils lost their second straight and fell nine points behind Boston in the race for the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We fought back and found a way to get a point,” Zajac said, adding this was a game the Devils needed to win. “Too bad we didn’t get the extra point.”
The Bruins, who swept the three-game season series, are four points ahead of idle Florida for the final wild-card position.
Svedberg got the Bruins to overtime by stopping Martin Havlat with just over a minute to play and then making a pad save on Mike Cammalleri in the closing seconds. He also stopped Scott Gomez in the overtime from the left circle.
“He played well,” Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said of Svedberg. “He made a couple of outstanding saves.”
New Jersey rallied from the two-goal deficit by scoring twice in a 2:09 span in the third period.
Chris Kelly helped the Devils get started, picking up a hooking penalty. Less than a minute later, Jacob Josefson sent a pass to Adam Henrique near the crease and it hit off his stick to Zajac, who broke a 15-game drought with a shot into an open net.
Then a turnover by defenseman Dougie Hamilton was intercepted by Cammalleri. He carried into the Bruins’ zone, cut across the crease and sent a back pass to Tootoo for a shot into an open net for his sixth goal.
The Devils seemed out of the game early in the third period when Pastrnak scored his seventh by putting in his own rebound at 1:40, shortly after a penalty to New Jersey defenseman Mark Fraser expired.
Schneider complained, insisting Kelly interfered with him. However, the officials felt the forward was pushed into the crease by a New Jersey player.
Boston had gotten on the scoreboard in the first period on a bang-bang play. Paille passed from center ice on the right boards into the left corner. New Jersey defenseman Adam Larsson was pressured by Carl Soderberg and had his pass up the boards intercepted by Loui Eriksson. He passed to a wide-open Paille for a slam-dunk goal before Schneider could react.
It was Paille’s second goal in as many games since returning after being benched for two games following a 36-game goal drought.
Svedberg, who shut the Devils out 3-0 on Jan. 8 when he faced only 14 shots, was at his best in the latter half of the second period when the Devils’ offense woke up. His best save was a point-blank stop on Cammalleri on a shot set up by big hit behind the net by Tootoo.
NOTES: Boston is 22-1-2 in games it takes the lead into the third period. … With Rask out, the Bruins recalled goaltender Jeremy Smith from Providence to back up Svedberg. He has never played an NHL game. … Devils defensemen Fraser and Jon Merrill played in their 200th and 100th NHL games, respectively. … The trade of Jaromir Jagr opened a spot in the lineup for Havlat, who had sat out five straight. … Boston C Gregory Campbell missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury.