BOSTON (AP) — Now that they are on the verge of the NHL wins record, the Boston Bruins aren’t afraid to say they’re going for it.
“I think it’s an incredible accomplishment,” forward Taylor Hall said Saturday night after the Bruins tied an NHL record with their 62nd victory of the season. “And it’s OK to say that.”
Pavel Zacha scored twice in the the first five minutes, and the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins held on to beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 for their fifth straight victory and their 12th in 13 tries.
Boston has three games left to try to top the record for regular-season wins set by the 1995-96 Red Wings and matched by the 2018-19 Lightning. Neither of those teams went on to win the Stanley Cup, and the Bruins insist that that remains their ultimate goal.
But coach Jim Montgomery also said that trying to win their remaining games can help them stay sharp for what they hope will be a long postseason run.
“Anytime you’re talking about putting your team’s name — and putting our ‘Spoked B’ — in the history books of the most wins ever in a regular season, it’s special,” he said. “Our regular season has been great, but we need to win our last game of the season. And that’s what we’re building towards.”
The Bruins have already clinched their third Presidents’ Trophy since 2014, and with it the No. 1 seed in the postseason. They also have 129 points and a chance at the record of 132 set by the 1976-77 Canadiens, who played an 80-game season and didn’t earn points for overtime or shootout wins.
Their first chance at the wins record is at Philadelphia on Sunday before they return home to play Washington on Tuesday and then in Montreal on Thursday.
“You’ve got to recharge, reload for tomorrow’s game as well. Because there’s no freebies,” said Linus Ullmark, who stopped 29 shots. “And as happy as we are right now with with this, we can pat ourselves a little bit on the shoulder. But there’s a new day tomorrow.”
Jesper Bratt scored and Mackenzie Blackwood made 38 saves for the Devils, who remain one point behind Carolina and two ahead of the Rangers in the race for the Metropolitan Division title. Jack Hughes assisted on the goal, giving him 96 points for the season to tie Patrik Eliáš’ franchise record.
The Devils picked up a penalty about a minute in when Ryan Graves got called for upending Brad Marchand in pursuit of a loose puck heading toward the net. Graves didn’t think much of the call, and tried to get to Marchand to let him know it, but was held back by the official.
A minute into the power play, Zacha tipped a shot from Hampus Lindholm into the net. With five minutes gone in the first, Zacha scored again, backhanding a rebound off Blackwood’s pads and into the net to make it 2-0.
The Devils cut it to 2-1 a minute later when a turnover left Bratt free all alone on Ullmark. They had another one-on-none with the goalie in the second period, but Ullmark stooped two swipes by Hughes and a rebound attempt by Yegor Sharangovich.
The Bruins killed a double-minor that straddled the break between the second and third periods.
Blackwood stopped David Pastrnak on a second-period breakaway. Pastrnak also had a wraparound attempt on an empty net in the final seconds but it appears to have been cleared off the goal line by Nico Hischier.
Devils: Host Buffalo on Tuesday night in their home finale.
Bruins: Face the Flyers on Sunday night in the penultimate road game of the season.
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Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press