Rask sensational as Bruins run winning streak to seven
The Krejci line celebrates Jarome Iginla's first period goal. Iginla's goal turned out to be the gamer in a 2-1 win.
The Boston Bruins are on a serious roll.
much so that they can survive a three shot second period and a myriad of
short-handed situations against a Phoenix Coyotes squad on the outside
of the Western Conference playoff picture looking in and desperate for
every point - aided by the fact that the Bruins were coming off a win in
Montreal 24 hours earlier that had to feel like a Cup raising...
...and the Bruins were
a bit off, skating with sand in their pants and relying on goaltender
Tuukka Rask to bail them out when the slick-skating dogs managed to
split the defensemen, stopping 20 of 21 shots while greybeards Zdeno
Chara and Jarome Iginla turned in veteran efforts in potting goals as
the Bruins were just good enough to top the game Coyotes 2-1 at TD
Garden on Thursday night.
With the win, the Bruins set a
season high seven-game winning streak, handed coach Claude Julien his
300th victory behind the bench in Boston and pulled one point ahead
of the juggernaut Pittsburgh Penguins for the best record in the Eastern
As one might expect, the Bruins were
sluggish coming off the front end of this back-to-back series,
particularly coming off the emotional blowout win over their
arch-nemesis Canadiens' squad last night - the offense managing just 20
shots for the game, Phoenix goalie Mike Smith turning away most, getting
very lucky as a few others got behind him but caught iron instead of
The defense had their issues as well, but
allowed just 22 shots on Rask, though it seemed that he had to stand on
his head to stop each one, making the spectacular save look easy and the
easy stop look spectacular.
Both Bruins' goals came in
the opening frame, Chara starting the scoring with a tumbler from the
slot six minutes in - but first stealing a Keith Yandel outlet pass at
the blue line, then weaving unopposed into the high slot, sending one of
his effortless-looking snap shots top shelf over Smith for the early
Iginla also found dirty ice from the high slot
with just over two minutes left in the opening period, but with his back
to Smith - redirecting a Johnny Boychuk rocket into the twine past
Smith's blocker for the 2-0 lead that the Bruins took into the room -
but that was all the energy the Bruins could muster, as the teams
slogged through the second period though Boston actually outshot Phoenix
3-2 in the frame.
The Coyotes made it interesting in
the final period, Lauri Korpikoski potting one during a 12 shot barrage
and Carl Soderberg taking a bad late penalty to offer hope to a Phoenix
team that has one of the best power plays in the league, but Rask
emerged unscathed and the Bruins managed to kill of the clock and hang
on for the win.
The Bruins' penalty kill again was
superb, yielding no goals on five man-advantages for the Coyotes - their
streak of kills reaching 16 straight, the consistency of the Bruins
play evident when they were forced to play short-handed.
Claude Julien: "We're getting a pretty good commitment from everybody right now. Not the streak as much as its the consistency" #BruinsTalk
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) March 14, 2014
This Bruins' team is so consistent that it's nearly
machine-like -and when playing hockey looks as easy as they've made in
look since stumbling out of the Olympic break, there isn't a team in the
league that can beat them at their game...
seven games is proof of that, and now face a stretch run that is far
from a gauntlet even though 10 of their final 15 regular season games
are away from TD Garden - which is good for focus and motivation to gain
that top seed in the conference - because with a home record of 26-7-2,
chances are very good that the Bruins could hold serve throughout the
playoffs and return to the Stanley Cup Finals.