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Gregory Campbell’s Gordie Howe hat trick leads Bruins past Devils

01.19.12 at 9:31 pm ET
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Gregory Campbell led the way with a Gordie Howe hat trick as the Bruins got back to winning Thursday night, defeating the Devils, 4-1, in Newark, N.J.

Danius Zubrus set up Petr Sykora‘s 12th goal of the season late in the first period to give New Jersey the lead. The two teams played a scoreless second period before Andrew Ference tied the game with a shot from the top of the circle in the third period. Nathan Horton gave the B’s their first lead of the night on the power play, scoring his third goal in the last two games.

Thirty-five seconds later, Campbell buried a rebound off a Shawn Thornton shot, giving the Bruins a two-goal lead with more than half a period left to play. Chris Kelly added an empty-netter.

Campbell’s goal sealed the Gordie Howe hat trick for him, as he fought Brad Mills in the first period and assisted Ference’s goal.

The Bruins will next play Saturday when they host the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– One of the things that has made the Bruins such a good team this year has been their play in the third period — a time that they have used the period to either get leads or add to them. Thursday was no different. The B’s four unanswered goals improved their third-period differential to a whopping plus-37.

– Ference’s goal was his first in 25 games, but he’s still been having a very good season from a statistical standpoint. Ference isn’t relied upon for his scoring. His third goal of the season tied his personal best with the Bruins (he had three last season; four is his career high). Ference now has 18 points, which is the most he’s had in a single season since he had 31 with the Flames in the 2005-06 season.

– The Bruins are no strangers to scoring two goals in a minute, and they did it for the 14th time this season when Campbell followed Horton’s goal with a tally of his own. The shift that follows a goal is always a crucial one, and Claude Julien has often trusted the fourth line to take those important shifts. It paid off again Thursday.

– Thomas had allowed seven goals over his previous two starts entering Thursday night, but he was able to bounce back and bring his ‘A’ game to New Jersey, robbing David Clarkson on a rebound in the second period as one of 28 saves the reigning Vezina winner made on the night.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

David Krejci‘s line continued to allow goals, something Julien called the trio out for Tuesday night. Krejci won the faceoff in the Bruins’ zone prior to the Devils’ first goal, but Zubrus got to the puck behind the net and fed Sykora. Because Horton’s goal came on the power play, he has been a minus-4 over the last three games.

– The B’s had just six shots on goal in the first period for the third consecutive game. The B’s have been plagued by slow starts in recent games, and though the B’s came out looking less sloppy than they did Tuesday, they still need stronger starts to these contests. They have one first-period goal in the last four games.

– The Joe Corvo-Dennis Seidenberg pairing has become dangerous for the Bruins. Corvo has struggled mightily in his own zone of late, and Seidenberg has been catching some really bad bounces. The B’s saw a couple of those in the second period, including one puck that bounced off Seidenberg and right to a flying Ilya Kovalchuk in the neutral zone, but neither cost the B’s.

Brad Marchand, who was playing in his first contest since being suspended five games for his hit on Sami Salo, had a rather quiet return to the lineup. The second-line winger had no shots on goal Thursday night.

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