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Bruins rally past Devils in third period to end losing skid

BOSTON (AP) -- Spring training might be two months away, but
credit new Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka with his first win in
Boston.

Patrice Bergeron scored two goals and Brad Stuart snapped a tie
early in the third period as the Boston Bruins beat the New Jersey
Devils 5-3 Thursday night.

Matsuzaka, who signed a $52 million, six-year contract Thursday
a month after the Red Sox bid $51.11 million for negotiation rights
to the Japanese ace, dropped the ceremonial opening puck to a
standing ovation. Matsuzaka was wearing a No. 18 Bruins jersey --
he'll wear No. 18 with the Red Sox -- and saluted the crowd before
exiting through Boston's bench.

The Bruins kept the applause going by taking a 2-0 lead in the
opening 1:25 on goals by Brad Boyes and Bergeron.

"There's a lot of Red Sox fans on this team, and we're happy
that (Matsuzaka) is here," goalie Tim Thomas said. "I think there
was energy from the crowd, and it might have boiled over to the
players."

Boyes added a goal and two assists, and Petr Tenkrat also scored
for the Bruins, who broke a two-game losing streak.

Boston scored three power-play goals to defeat New Jersey at
home for the first time since March 12, 2003, despite squandering
leads of 2-0 and 3-2.

Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner and Mike Rupp scored for the
Devils, who lost their second straight after winning five in a row.

Boyes scored 19 seconds into the first period when he fired a
slap shot from just inside the blue line past backup goalie Scott
Clemmensen. Following a fight that gave Boston a power play,
Bergeron made it 2-0 when he scored from the left circle.

"They came out with the attitude of taking the game to us,"
New Jersey center Erik Rasmussen said. "We were a little slow
reacting."

The Devils scored twice late in the first to tie it at 2, then
came back from a 3-2 deficit in the second period before being
outscored 2-0 in the third.

Following a holding call on New Jersey's Paul Martin in the
opening minute of the third, Stuart corralled a rebound just
outside the crease and slapped the puck through a crowd and by
Clemmensen to put Boston up 4-3 at 2:17.

Bergeron added an empty-net goal in the final minute.

Thomas, who returned after missing Boston's 4-3 loss at Montreal
on Tuesday with the flu, stopped eight of his 26 shots in the third
period for the Bruins.

Thomas has won six of eight decisions, but took the loss in New
Jersey's 5-1 win in Boston on Saturday.

"We didn't have the same intensity (as Saturday)," New Jersey
coach Claude Julien said. "We didn't seem to skate as well. We
were just a step behind."

Clemmensen, making his second start of the season, stopped 40
shots in place of Martin Brodeur, who had the night off.

Boston outshot New Jersey 45-29.

Game notes
Boston LW P.J. Axelsson missed his sixth straight game
because of a fractured left foot. He could return next week. ... It
was Boston's first home game without 19-year-old rookie LW Phil
Kessel, who is out indefinitely after undergoing cancer-related
surgery Monday. Kessel got a loud ovation when his name was
announced before the game. ... Elias has recorded a point in eight
straight games. ... New Jersey is 11-2-1 at home and 6-9-1 on the
road.