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His effort has been nothing short of primo

Hard work pays off for Primeau

It doesn't happen very often, ''pretty rarely," in fact, according to Bruins center Wayne Primeau, who vaulted over the boards during a delayed penalty call against the Devils last night at TD Banknorth Garden and cashed in shortly thereafter.

Primeau, who became the sixth skater in place of goalie Tim Thomas, moved through the circle and bore down on New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur. Brian Leetch, cycling behind the net, found Primeau in full stride at Brodeur's doorstep and the former San Jose Shark buried the shot and pulled the Bruins into a 2-2 tie with less than eight minutes to play in regulation.

''I tried to get into a spot where nobody was on me," Primeau said. ''Leetchie made a great pass to me and I just put it toward the net and was fortunate it went in. I just jumped over the boards and went for it. I try to get in front of the net, get my body in front, and create some havoc."

Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said he appreciates Primeau's effort -- game after game. When Primeau has at least a point, the Bruins were 8-0 -- prior to last night.

Not bad for a player who was considered the third man (after defenseman Brad Stuart and forward Marco Sturm) in the Joe Thornton deal.

''He's been an underrated player for us," said Sullivan. ''He's been playing well. He makes the right decisions with the puck."

Yes, the Devils won in overtime, 3-2, but without Primeau's effort, 1 point might not have come the Bruins' way.

''It would have been nice to get 2," said Primeau, ''but we've got to move on and get ready for Tampa Bay [tomorrow]. Every game is going to be tough from now on and every team is trying to get points and move up in the standings. You've got to play a strong defensive and physical game."

Primeau felt the Bruins and Devils battled evenly throughout.

''It was a back-and-forth hockey game. There were some prime scoring chances on both sides. Both goalies made spectacular saves. We've had injuries and some key players out of the lineup and there have been a few guys who have had to log a lot of minutes."

Primeau, who logged 23-plus himself, also praised Brian Gionta, the former Boston College captain who scored two goals, including the winner. ''He's a good player, no doubt, and he feeds off other talented players," said Primeau. ''With the new rules and his speed and skill, he's done well."

Primeau, who unloaded four shots on goal despite a sore wrist, feels the Olympic break will give the Bruins time to heal and get reenergized. And he's become a more confident player in recent weeks.

''I'm getting a lot of minutes and our line is getting the opportunity to play against some of the other teams' top lines," he said. ''It's giving me confidence and it's one of those things where the more you're on the ice, the more you don't worry about things."

Playing on successive nights against Pittsburgh (a 3-1 win) and New Jersey (the Devils were off Wednesday) and still coming away with a point last night did not completely satisfy Primeau or his teammates.

''The good thing is guys are still upset we didn't get that extra point," he said. ''We're hungry to get those points and make the playoffs. I don't exactly know how things were before [the trade]. I know Brad, Marco, and myself have tried to come in and work hard.

''One reason I've been able to play in the NHL is that I try to give an effort every night."

On that point, he'd get no argument from his coach.

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