NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – Vladimir Zharkov and Alexander Urbom scored third-period goals and the New Jersey Devils posted a 3-2 victory over the playoff-bound Boston Bruins on Sunday in what was Jacques Lemaire’s final game as their coach.
The 66-year-old Lemaire said before the regular-season finale that he would disclose after the game whether he would return next season. Once it was over, he said he wouldn’t be back.
The Hall of Famer, who retired after last season, returned on Dec. 23 after rookie coach John MacLean was fired and helped the Devils make a valiant run at a playoff berth.
“I’m going back where I was before,” Lemaire said. “It demands a lot and I want to enjoy life. I want to enjoy the family. I still do think that I made the right decision last year, but I am really happy I took the job for the rest of the season.
“I had fun.”
Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly scored for the Bruins and Tuukka Rask was outstanding in making 29 saves. Boston will meet Montreal in the opening round of the playoffs in what has become a more heated rivalry in recent months.
Zharkov, who has struggled to score despite numerous opportunities, beat Rask on a breakaway to snap a 1-all tie four minutes into the Devils’ final period of the season. Defenseman Anssi Salmela sprung Zharkov with a quick outlet pass from the blue line, and the Russian beat Rask with a shot to the top corner for his second goal of the season.
Urbom, recalled from Albany of the AHL after defenseman Jay Leach was hurt in Saturday’s loss to the New York Rangers, got his first NHL goal a little more than five minutes later. He came down from the left point, took a pass from fellow rookie Jacob Josefson, skated behind the net and scored on a wraparound.
Adam Henrique, who also was recalled from Albany, provided a screen at the edge of the crease that gave Urbom the room to score.
Elias gave the Devils the lead less than two minutes after the opening faceoff. Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk couldn’t control a fluttering puck behind the Boston net, and Brian Rolston got the puck and found Elias all alone for his 21st goal.
Peverley tied the game at 10:04 of the opening period, six seconds after a tripping penalty to Devils defenseman Andy Greene expired. Hedberg made a pad save on a blast from the right circle by Andrew Ference. The rebound tipped off Michael Ryder and went to Peverley for a shot into a wide-open net. It was his second goal in two games.
NOTES: The Bruins left captain Zdeno Chara and veteran Mark Recchi in Boston so they could get an extra day off before the series with Montreal. … The Canadiens won the season series 4-2. … Devils C David Steckel also was unable to play because of an injury, leading to the recall of Henrique. … New Jersey’s 38-39-5 record was its first sub .500 mark since 1990-91 (32-33-15). … The sellout crowd of 17,625, included at least 1,000 fans from the Quebec area, many wearing Nordiques’ jerseys.