Boston 3, New Jersey 2
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 4, 2017
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass
BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) — Drew Stafford had a goal taken away, but that was not about to ruin his first night with his new team.
“Couldn’t have asked for much more than that … a big win with the boys,” Stafford said after setting up Ryan Spooner’s winner with 11:42 left to help the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 decision over New Jersey on Saturday night, handing the Devils their sixth straight loss.
“Just to be a part of a big win … It’s great. Good start.”
Stafford, acquired from the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline, had a season-high seven shots on goal and also had a goal disallowed because of goalie interference. But he took a pass from behind the net from Frank Vatrano, who had separated defenseman Damon Severson from the puck, and relayed his pass to Spooner.
Spooner’s 11th goal of the season beat Cory Schneider, who had no chance.
Stafford had four goals and 13 points in 40 games with the Jets, getting an assist in his final game with that team.
The replays shown in the press box and on the big board didn’t clearly indicate any interference, but his goal was waved off instead of making it 2-0. Playing on a line with Spooner and Vatrano, he was strong throughout.
“He checked all of the boxes tonight in terms of being a successful night for him,” interim coach Bruce Cassidy said of his new player, who replaced the benched Jimmy Hayes in the lineup. “He’s an experienced veteran player so he knows the league.
“He seemed to fit in very well with the line that he was on and the power play group he got spotted into. So we’re very pleased. You can tell he’s excited to play and wants to be part of it.”
Vatrano said, “I think he fits really well in the line. He’s a guy who can make plays, he can shoot pucks and he competes hard, so it went well tonight.”
The win was the eighth in 10 games for the Bruins, who are in third place in the Atlantic Division under Cassidy, 5-1 at home.
The Bruins remained in third place in the Atlantic Division, two points behind the Senators, who have two games in hand. The teams meet Monday night in Ottawa.
The Devils, whose playoff hopes are all but gone, tied the game 5:51 into the third period when Kyle Palmieri took a two-on-one pass and beat Anton Khudobin in the Boston goal. It was Palmieri’s 20th goal of the season, his fifth in the last six games.
Defensmen Torey Krug and rookie Brandon Carlo (sixth goal, first at home) also scored for the Bruins, with Patrice Bergeron assisting on the first two goals.
Devante Smith-Pelley scored for the Devils, who dropped to 0-4-2 in the last six, with five straight losses by one goal.
Khudobin stopped 15 shots for his third straight win and Schneider made 37 saves. He is 3-0 under Cassidy; Boston backups were 1-10-2 before Claude Julien was fired.
“If they believe in me and they didn’t bring anybody, I really appreciate it,” Khudobin said of surviving the trade deadline. “I want to do my job and I want to win for the team. If they did that, I really appreciate it and believe it’s always most important. If they believe in you as a player, it gives you confidence, and that’s it.”
Schneider, a local product, fell to 2-5-2 against the team he grew up watching but made 37 saves.
“He was the best player on the ice,” said defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who had a goal called back because of a Taylor Hall tripping penalty. “The other 18 guys that were playing weren’t good enough.”
The Carlo goal against Schneider went in off the stick of teammate Nick Lappin, recalled from Albany earlier in the day.
The win improved the Bruins to 27-0-2 when leading after two periods this season and 198-13-14 since the start of the 2010-11 season.
NOTES: Bruins D Adam McQuaid took teammate Davis Backes’ skate blade to the face late in the game and needed some stitches. … Devils D Andy Greene missed the game for a family situation and won’t play at home Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, either. … D Dalton Prout, acquired from Columbus, made his New Jersey debut. … Jersey LW Mike Cammalleri is out with an upper-body injury. … George McPhee, the general manager of the new Vegas Golden Knights and four members of his staff were at the game. McPhee had been hoping to see his son, Graham, play for Boston College in the Hockey East playoffs, but BC had a bye this weekend. … Former Bruins player Andrew Ference was a dressing room visitor postgame. … The Devils have a home-and-home set with the Blue Jackets on Sunday in New Jersey and Tuesday in Columbus.