Final score: Bruins 4, New Jersey 1

Lucic celebrates/By S. Bradley

BOSTON — The next time the Bruins host New Jersey on March 22, bet on Boston to win and the score to be 4-1, especially if the home team is trying to emerge from a tailspin.

For the second time in three years, the Bruins took care of business by downing the Devils, 4-1, on March 22 tonight at TD Garden. As I wrote this morning, the Bruins were in similar circumstances in 2009, and prevailed after a couple days of practice.

Tim Thomas, who is obviously at his best when he takes a week off and then gets pulled and re-inserted into his first game back, was in top form with 31 saves. He stopped 15 of 16 first-period shots, as the Bruins were outshot 16-6 in the opening session.

Combined with Montreal’s home loss to Buffalo tonight, the Bruins’ victory puts them three points up with two games in hand for the Northeast Division lead with the head-to-head showdown coming Thursday.

Here’s a glance at the rest of the box score:

•Shawn Thornton snapped a 19-game goal drought with a tip-in that tied the game. And Zdeno Chara scored the Bruins’ first 5-on-4 power-play goal since Feb. 18 to put the team in the lead.

•Milan Lucic’s goal was his 30th of the season, which makes him the first Bruins to reach 30 goals since Phil Kessel scored 36 in 2008-09.

•Chara added two assists and a plus-2 rating to his goal. Adam McQuaid was plus-2 with three blocked shots.

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