BOSTON (AP) – Patrice Bergeron scored two goals and Brad Stuart snapped a tie early in the third period as the Boston Bruins beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3 Thursday night.

Brad Boyes added a goal and two assists, and Petr Tenkrat also scored for the Bruins, who broke a two-game losing streak.

Boston scored three power-play goals and defeated New Jersey at home for the first time since March 12, 2003, despite squandering leads of 2-0 and 3-2.

Following a holding call on New Jersey’s Paul Martin in the opening minute of the third period, Stuart corralled a rebound just outside the crease and slapped the puck through a crowd and past backup goalie Scott Clemmensen to put Boston up 4-3 at 2:17.

Bergeron added an empty-net goal in the final minute.

Tim Thomas, who returned after missing Boston’s 4-3 loss at Montreal on Tuesday with the flu, stopped eight of his 26 shots in the third period. That helped the Bruins improve to an NHL-best 12-3-2 in one-goal games.

Thomas has won six of eight decisions.

Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner and Mike Rupp scored for the Devils, who lost their second straight after winning five in a row.

Clemmensen, making his second start of the season, stopped 40 shots in place of Martin Brodeur, who was given the night off.

New Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who signed a $52 million, six-year contract Thursday a month after the team bid $51.11 million for negotiation rights to the Japanese ace, dropped the ceremonial opening puck to a standing ovation.

The Bruins kept the applause going by taking a 2-0 lead in the opening 1:25 on goals by Boyes and Bergeron. But New Jersey tied it by the end of the first period despite being outshot 15-7.

Tenkrat then completed a give-and-go with Paul Mara to put Boston up 3-2 13:02 into the second period, but New Jersey tied it again 1:37 later when Rupp skated around a fallen Thomas and backhanded the puck into the net.

Boston outshot New Jersey 45-29.

Notes: Boston LW P.J. Axelsson missed his sixth straight game because of a fractured left foot. He could return next week. … It was Boston’s first home game without 19-year-old rookie LW Phil Kessel, who is out indefinitely after undergoing cancer-related surgery Monday. Kessel got a loud ovation when his name was announced before the game. … Elias has recorded a point in eight straight games. … New Jersey is 11-2-1 at home and 6-9-1 on the road.

AP-ES-12-14-06 2157EST


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