- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- Jaromir Jagr scored the game's only goal, but the bigger story was the 40 saves made by Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who earned his third shutout of the season to lead the Bruins to a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Bruins have won three straight and will head to Montreal on Saturday for another battle for first place in the Northeast Division with the Canadiens, whom they trail by one point.
Rask snaps out of funk -- Tuukka Rask admittedly has not been his best as of late, losing his last two games and allowing eight goals in the process. But on Thursday, Rask looked more like the goalie who was a candidate for the Vezina Trophy for the first half of the season. The Bruins were outshot 17-6 in the first period, but thanks to Rask they were still tied 0-0 headed to the second period. Rask made two point-blank pad saves midway through the opening frame and held the Devils off the scoreboard. The Bruins appeared to gain momentum off their goalie's performance as they came out with more intensity in the second period and gained a 1-0 lead on Jagr's goal. Once again Rask gave his team a chance to win and helped snap them out of an early haze. He also erased any ideas that there was a goalie controversy brewing after Anton Khudobin made 45 stops Tuesday.
Jagr gives his best Pele impression -- Bruins fans can argue all they want, but that was a beautiful soccer -- ahem -- hockey goal that Jagr scored to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead 1:20 into the second period. While an argument that Jagr redirected the puck into the net with his foot could be made, he had some Pele and magician-like moments in his Boston debut. On the Bruins' first power-play later in the period, Jagr got a little too fancy on some passes but then showed how hard he is to take off the puck and almost scored on a backhander down low. Like Pele in soccer, Jagr -- who was on the ice for 19:12 and had five shots on net - can be graceful and gritty with the puck and that is why he can only help the Bruins going forward.
Defense still not there -- Following the Bruins' 3-2 win over the Senators on Tuesday in which they allowed 47 Ottawa shots, coach Claude Julien labeled his defense "soft" and was not happy with the amount of scoring chances the Senators were given. That soft play on defense continued Thursday as the Bruins were completely outplayed in the opening period, played a little better in the second, but then appeared to drop back into prevent defense and let New Jersey pour the shots on again as the Devils outshot the Bruins 12-7 in the third period. As they often have this season, the Bruins defense struggled to come out of its own zone, making numerous turnovers that led to plenty of scoring chances.
With Bergeron out, Julien shuffles lines again -- With Patrice Bergeron missing his first game after suffering a moderate concussion and some new players in the lineup in Jagr and Kaspars Daugavins, Julien again had some new forward lines. Jagr was on the left wing with Tyler Seguin centering him and Brad Marchand, who assisted on Jagr's goal. Daugavins skated on a line with Rich Peverley in the middle and Jay Pandolfo on the right. Julien decided not to break up the Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton line that has been gaining momentum lately. He also left his energy line together. Here's what the lineup looked like:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Tyler Seguin-Jaromir Jagr
Jay Pandolfo-Rich Peverley-Kaspars Daugavins