David Pastrnak collected the assist on the first goal of the game and scored the game-winner Thursday night for the Boston Bruins, who continued a late-season surge by beating the New Jersey Devils 5-1 in Newark, N.J.
It was Pastrnak’s second game back after a thumb injury.
Patrice Bergeron scored off Pastrnak’s feed late in the first period and added an empty-netter in the waning seconds of the game for the Bruins, who have won three straight following a three-game losing streak to reduce their magic number for clinching a playoff spot to four points.
Danton Heinen also scored, David Backes added an insurance goal with 22 seconds left in the third and Brad Marchand racked up three assists for Boston, which allowed 15 goals during its skid but has outscored the Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders by a combined 12-2 margin.
Goalie Tuukka Rask made 21 saves.
Drew Stafford scored in the second period for the Devils, who have lost three straight. Goalie Cory Schneider recorded 22 saves.
Bergeron capped a coast-to-coast sequence by giving the Bruins the lead for good with 1:26 left in the first. After Schneider turned back Pastrnak’s shot from the right faceoff circle, Marchand chased down the rebound and passed to Pastrnak, who dished across the crease to Bergeron, who beat Schneider.
Bergeron won a faceoff in the Devils’ zone to set up Pastrnak’s goal a little beyond the midway point of the second. Marchand again swooped behind Bergeron to collect the puck and dished a tape-to-tape pass to Pastrnak, who tucked a shot into the open corner of the net with 7:02 left
The Devils cut the gap in half just 1:53 later, when Stafford fired a shot over the leg of a sprawling Rask.
The Bruins added to their lead just 29 seconds into the third thanks to a painful play by center Sean Kuraly, who blocked with his upper body a sizzling slapshot by Devils defenseman Steven Santini. The puck caromed into the neutral zone, where Heinen chased it down, descended upon Schneider and beat him on the breakaway.
Bergeron iced the game with 1:18 to go, and the Bruins added another goal when Backes scored off a turnover.