BOSTON (AP) — Kyle Palmieri scored his first two goals of the season, one of them short-handed, to lead the Devils to a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night — New Jersey's second straight victory since returning from a two-week COVID-19 pause.
Pavel Zacha scored for the second consecutive game for the Devils, who had their first seven games in February postponed, with a total of 19 players added to the NHL's COVID-19 list. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 25 shots for New Jersey.
Zacha's goal to make it 3-1 came after he spun around to start a give-and-go with Andreas Johnsson with five minutes left in the second.
"We were 4-on-4, so I had a little more space. I tried to do the spin-o-rama there and I found Johnsson and he fed me right back," he said. "It's something you do in practice. ... You don't have much time to think about what you're doing."
Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy scored for Boston, and Jaroslav Halak made 23 saves. The Bruins had won nine of their previous 10 games before losing on Saturday to the New York Islanders.
Palmieri gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead early in the second period, taking a behind-the-back pass from Jack Hughes at the blue line and skating right down the middle before wristing it past Halak.
Midway through the second, with the Devils short-handed, Jesper Bratt fed Palmieri on a long pass for the breakaway that made it 2-0.
"With the pandemic and the long offseason, it's a long time to go between scoring goals," Palmieri said. "I saw the emotion of guys, they were happy for me coming back to the bench. That means a lot."
Boston was still on the same four-minute power play when DeBrusk intercepted a clearing attempt in the slot and quickly turned it around on Blackwood to cut the deficit to 2-1.
It stayed that way until there was just 2:11 left and New Jersey's Ty Smith was sent off for delay of game for flipping the puck over the glass. With Halak off for the 6-on-4 advantage, McAvoy sent a fluttering puck from the blue line into the net to make it 3-2.
Halak remained out for the last 66 seconds and the Bruins peppered Blackwood with shots but couldn't get the tying goal past him.
"I don't think anyone feels good about their game after that game," DeBrusk said. "They out-competed us."
Bruins F David Krejci left in the second period with an unspecified injury and did not return. "Lower-body, that's all I got," coach Bruce Cassidy said.
WAITING FOR WILLIE
The Bruins had been scheduled to retire the number of Willie O'Ree, the first Black player in NHL history, but the league asked them to wait until fans could be present for the ceremony. It will now take place on Jan. 18, 2022 — 64 years to the day after he broke the league's color barrier.
Devils: Host Buffalo on Saturday.
Bruins: Play the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in an outdoor game overlooking Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Nevada.