Patrice Bergeron scored twice and reached the 30-goal mark for the fifth time and the streaking Boston Bruins beat the injury-ravaged New Jersey Devils 5-1 on Thursday night to open a six-point lead over Toronto in the race for second place in the Atlantic Division.
David Pastrnak, Danton Heinen and David Backes also scored for the Bruins, who are 16-3-1 in their last 20 games. Tuukka Rask made 22 saves to improve to 18-2-3 in his last 23 games.
Boston, which has given up two goals while winning its last three games, and the Maple Leafs, who were idle, each have eight regular-season games left.
Drew Stafford scored for the Devils, ending a 34-game goal-scoring drought. Cory Schneider made 22 saves as New Jersey lost for the ninth time in 12 games (2-9-1).
Boston’s top line of Bergeron, Pastrnak and Brad Marchand combined for eight points in the game, including the first two goals.
Bergeron opened the scoring with 1:26 left in the first period with his 29th goal. Pastrnak took the puck from Marchand and made a pass across the crease to a Bergeron for a shot into an open net.
Pastrnak, who just returned from thumb surgery, got his 32nd at 12:58 of the second period. Bergeron won a faceoff and Marchand made the pass across the crease for Pastrnak’s shot into an open net.
A Bruins turnover allowed the Devils to score less than two minutes later. Pavel Zacha, who returned after missing 16 games with an upper-body injury, got the puck in the right circle and found Stafford for his third goal.
Heinen restored the two-goal lead 29 seconds into the third period. Sean Kuraly blocked a shot by Devils defenseman Steven Santini with his glove and Heinen scored on the ensuing rush.
Bergeron scored into an empty net with 1:18 to play, and Backes tallied in the final minute.
NOTES: Devils D Josh Jacobs made his NHL debut. … Former Devil Marcus Johansson, who was acquired at the trade deadline, missed his eighth straight game since being hurt. … Heinen’s goal was his 10th of the season and gave Boston nine players with double figures in goals. It was his first goal since Feb. 16. … Devils leading goal scorer Kyle Palmieri (27) sat out with an upper-body injury. He was hurt Tuesday against Washington. … Boston won the season series 2-1.
Bruins: Head to Florida for a game against the Panthers on Saturday.
Devils: Host Arizona on Saturday afternoon.