BOSTON — Drew Stafford capped off a productive Bruins debut, setting up Ryan Spooner with the go-ahead goal with 11:42 left to help Boston to a 3-2 victory over New Jersey on Saturday, handing the Devils their sixth straight loss.
The win was the eighth in 10 games for the Bruins, who are in third place in the Atlantic Division. Interim coach Bruce Cassidy improved to 5-1-0 at home.
Stafford, the veteran winger acquired from the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline, had a season-high seven shots on goal and also had a goal disallowed because of goalie interference. But he took a pass from behind the net from Frank Vatrano, who had separated defenseman Damon Severson from the puck, and relayed his pass to Spooner.
Spooner’s 11th goal of the season beat Cory Schneider, who had no chance.
The Devils, whose playoff hopes are all but gone, had just tied the game 5:51 into the third when Kyle Palmieri took a 2-on-1 pass and beat Anton Khudobin in the Boston goal. It was Palmieri’s 20th goal of the season, his fifth in the last six games.
Torey Krug and rookie Brandon Carlo (sixth goal, first at home) also scored for the Bruins, with Patrice Bergeron assisting on the first two goals.
Devante Smith-Pelley also scored for the Devils, who dropped to 0-4-2 in the last six, with five straight losses by one goal.
Khudobin stopped 15 shots for his third straight win while Schneider made 37 saves.
Schneider, a local product, fell to 2-5-2 against the team he grew up watching.
The win improved the Bruins to 27-0-2 when leading after two periods this season and 198-13-14 since the start of the 2010-11 season.
The Bruins outshot the Devils 16-5 in the first period but the game remained scoreless until less than a minute after Taylor Hall went off for tripping 6:18 into the second. Schneider stopped Bergeron’s shot but David Pastrnak pushed the rebound to Krug, who slapped home the first goal of the game at 7:06 of the second period.
The Devils thought they tied it on a Ben Lovejoy goal but Hall tripped Krug, causing the turnover that led to the shot. With Hall off, Stafford jammed his own rebound home, but New Jersey challenged for goaltender interference and the call was overturned.
At the end of the penalty, Smith-Pelley went in alone on Khudobin and scored at 11:48. The Bruins got that one back when Carlo took a pass from Bergeron and his off-speed backhander hit the stick of the just-recalled Nick Lappin and eluded Schneider with 1:35 left in the period.
NOTES: With RW Drew Stafford playing his first game, RW Jimmy Hayes and LW Matt Beleskey were healthy scratches for Boston. … Stafford had four goals and 13 points in 40 games for the Jets. … Devils D Andy Greene missed the game for personal reasons but D Dalton Prout, acquired from Columbus, made his New Jersey debut. … Jersey LW Mike Cammalleri is out with an upper body injury. … George McPhee, the general manager of the new Vegas Golden Knights and four members of his staff were at the game. McPhee had been hoping to see his son, Graham, play for Boston College in the Hockey East playoffs, but BC had a bye this weekend. … The Devils have a home-and-home set with the Columbus Blue Jackets — Sunday in New Jersey and Tuesday in Columbus — while the Bruins visit Ottawa on Monday.