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Murray's goal, assist lead Boston

4/4/2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The Boston Bruins earned an edge
for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs by making the New
Jersey Devils' road to consecutive Stanley Cup titles a little
tougher.

Glen Murray set up a goal and scored another in a big
first-period, and the Bruins won the Northeast Division title and
helped take away the Atlantic Division crown from the Devils with a
3-1 win on Sunday.

"It's absolutely a relief," goaltender Andrew Raycroft said
after the Bruins bounced back from a loss at home to New Jersey to
win the division. "It's a huge win going into the playoffs, coming
on the road and beating New Jersey at home. It gives us a lot of
confidence."

The Bruins, who played without star center Joe Thornton for the
second straight game because of what's being called an upper body
injury by the team, will face the Montreal Canadiens in a best-of-7
series starting on Wednesday in Boston.

The Bruins, the second seed in the Eastern Conference, won the
season series with the seventh-seeded Canadiens 3-0-1-2.

"I think our confidence going in is as good as it has ever been
since I've been here," Bruins forward Mike Knuble said. "Guys
around here, I don't know if it's the lockout or what, but guys are
ready to bear down and play well."

The Devils didn't do that in blowing a chance to win a second
straight division title.

New Jersey would have won the Atlantic with a second straight
win over the Bruins.

However, the Devils come out flat in the first period, letting
the Bruins score three times.

Coupled with the Flyers' 3-3 tie with the New York Islanders,
the Devils finished a point behind Philadelphia in the Atlantic
Division.

The Flyers, the third seed, will now have home-ice advantage in
their first-round series with New Jersey, the sixth seed.

Philadelphia won the season series, taking the final three
games.

"It is a big deal," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said.
"We had a chance. It was in our hands. They (the Bruins) really
wanted it. I thought we played pretty good but they got some breaks
early and they sat on the lead."

The Devils posted a 12-1 record at the Continental Airlines
Arena last year in winning their third title since 1995.

Travis Green and Sergei Samsonov also scored for Boston, while
Raycroft made 13 saves.

After failing to win the division title at home Saturday in a
5-2 loss to the Devils, the Bruins needed a win to secure their
second division title in three years.

While they were without Thornton, the good news was the Bruins
were on the road, where they had gotten points in 15 of their last
16 games.

The Bruins dominated from the start, scoring twice in the
opening 2:51 and three times in the first 15:17, while limiting New
Jersey to one shot.

"We're thrilled," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We had an
opportunity to win our division, arguably the best division in the
NHL. That was something we wanted to accomplish."

Green put the Bruins ahead 57 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Murray made a check behind the goal line that allowed Patrice
Bergeron to pass the puck in front. It hit off the skate of the
Devils' John Madden, and Green fired it past Brodeur.

Murray stretched the lead to 2-0 with Turner Stevenson off for
tripping. Nick Boynton took a shot from the point that Michael
Nylander and Knuble touched in front before Murray scored on the
rebound.

Samsonov beat Brodeur with a shot from above the left circle
after taking a drop pass from Nylander to make it 3-0.

Patrik Elias had the Devils' best chances in the first two
periods. He had a power-play shot hit off the post in the first
period and he was stopped in close by Raycroft in the second
period, when chants of "Let's go Islanders" could be heard in the
arena.

It didn't work.

Raycroft lost his shutout when Jamie Langenbrunner scored on a
power play with less than nine minutes to play.

The game got a little chippy in the final 10 minutes after
Bruins defenseman Dan McGillis hit Brian Gionta with an elbow in
the head. Hal Gill of Boston and Stevenson fought during the
ensuing power play.

Game notes
Devils D Brian Rafalski returned to the lineup after
missing 12 games with a broken leg. ... The Devils finished with a
season-low 14 shots. Their previous season low 17 on two occasions.
The Devils set an NHL record allowing 164 goals, the fewest allowed
in an 80-game plus season. St. Louis had the old mark, 165 in
1999-2000.