The gap is still great between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, but the way the New Jersey Devils beat the Boston Bruins gave them something above and beyond two big points - a strong sense of belief.
Instead of dropping their heads and limping out of Beantown, the Devils rallied to force overtime after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period and knocked off the pacesetting Bruins 4-3 on Thursday night.
"They're the team that everybody needs to measure themselves against, and rightfully so," said Jamie Langenbrunner, who scored two goals, including the winner 1:11 into OT. "They've had a great year, and we just wanted to see if we could play with them. I think we proved a little something to ourselves tonight that if we're on top of our game we can."
The Bruins still hold an 11-point lead in the East, but now their closest pursuers are the Devils, the Atlantic Division leaders who hopped over idle Washington with the win.
Langenbrunner, who scored the game's first goal, gave the Devils their seventh consecutive victory when he swept around and put in a rebound of Colin White's shot that went off Travis Zajac. Scott Clemmensen stopped 24 shots for New Jersey.
In other NHL games Thursday, it was: Carolina 3, Tampa Bay 2; the New York Islanders 5, Atlanta 4; Florida 5, Montreal 1; Dallas 4, Detroit 2; Ottawa 3, St. Louis 1; Toronto 7, Colorado 4; San Jose 2, Phoenix 0; and Los Angeles 5, Chicago 2.
In Boston, Langenbrunner and Zach Parise scored to give the Devils a 2-0 lead after two periods, but the Bruins took their first lead on Dennis Wideman's slap shot with 6:30 left.
Tim Thomas made 26 saves for the Bruins, who lost for the fifth time in 21 games. Marc Savard had a goal and an assist, and Phil Kessel had a pair of assists in his first game after missing six with mononucleosis.
"Our guys did a good job of getting ourselves back in the game," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It was a game where you really have to work hard to score goals. There wasn't a ton of pretty ones."
The Atlantic Division-leading Devils, who had given up just six goals in five games, tied it 3-3 when Patrik Elias crashed the net and knocked a pass from Brian Gionta off his skate and past Thomas with 1:45 to go in regulation.
"It was a battle of who was going to score the most goals on themselves," Thomas said.
This program aired on January 30, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.