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Michael Ryder and Milan Lucic scored on deflections off New Jersey Devils players and the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins beat their closest challengers 4-1 Sunday.
The win clinched the Northeast Division title for Boston, which locked up a playoff berth Saturday night when Florida lost to Columbus.
The Bruins got another fluke goal when Marc Savard scored on a power play on a rebound off New Jersey's Travis Zajac, who had stopped Matt Hunwick's shot from the left point. And Chuck Kobasew beat Martin Brodeur between the post and the goalie's left skate as Kobasew stood behind the goal line.
Andy Greene scored for New Jersey midway through the second period, cutting the lead to 3-1. But the Bruins held the lead three days after wasting a two-goal, third period advantage in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Bruins have 102 points with nine games left to 97 for New Jersey, which has 10 remaining.
Boston had been struggling before cooling off a streaking team and the winningest goalie in NHL history. The Bruins are 7-9-4 in their last 20 games after going 39-8-6. The Devils are 9-3 in their last 12 and Brodeur is 9-2 since returning from biceps surgery.
Challenged by coach Claude Julien to work harder after Thursday night's loss, the Bruins responded. They even scored on their first two power plays after Julien said they were "totally flat" when they had the man advantage against the Kings.
On Boston's first power play Sunday, Ryder scored his 25th goal of the season. Mark Recchi centered the puck from the right side, where it touched Ryder and continued to the other side of the slot where it hit the skate of the Devils' Paul Martin and went past Brodeur.
The Bruins made it 2-0 just 1:52 into the second when Patrice Bergeron passed the puck from the lower left corner to Kobasew, who scored his 18th goal.
Savard, Boston's leading scorer, then got his second goal in four games after going 15 games without one when he scored on a power play at 6:19 of the period.
Tim Thomas, the NHL leader in goals against average, gave up Greene's second goal of the season at 12:44 of the second period. Greene kept skating to the net after passing from the left point across the ice to Jamie Langenbrunner, who returned the puck into the slot. Greene redirected it past Thomas.
But the Bruins regained the lead less than 5 minutes later on Lucic's 14th goal and first in 16 games. He skated in on the left side and put the puck in front of the net where several Devils and no Bruins were camped.
It hit the stick of defenseman Mike Mottau and ricocheted past Brodeur.
This program aired on March 23, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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