With each game that passes, the Bruins continue to stress the same points about having plenty to work on as they get ready for the playoffs. However, you can’t ignore the fact that Boston (46-17-5) is currently on fire as it beat Minnesota, 4-1, Monday at TD Garden in front of a festive St. Patrick’s Day crowd. The Bruins have 97 points, tied for second best in the NHL with Anaheim and San Jose, four points behind St. Louis. Boston is 15-4-4 against Western Conference teams, the best mark in the East.
“They are a good team,” said Bruins winger Chris Kelly about Minnesota. “There are aspects of the game that we can get better at. We want to play consistent through 60 minutes, regardless of the score.”
Two of the main catalysts for Boston’s nine-game win streak - Tuukka Rask and Jarome Iginla - were at it again. Rask (33 saves) is 6-0-0 with .947 save percentage in his last six games and he’s only allowed one in each of the last three. Iginla scored two more goals, adding to his team leading total (25; his 14th career 25-goal season) as he’s put up six goals and an assist in his last five games. It was 0-0 after a slow first period but the Bruins scored twice in the second period for a brief 2-0 lead. That means something extra since they improved to 36-3-0 this season when they lead by two goals or more.
Iginla started it with a fluky goal: a dump in on Minnesota’s Darcy Kuemper that somehow went through his leg pads. Iginla called it, “fortunate" that Kuemper didn’t pick it up at all. Boston scored a more conventional goal when Carl Soderberg connected with Loui Eriksson for a gorgeous one-timer. Soderberg wrapped around the net then threw a no-look backhand pass right on the money to his fellow Swede. Former Buffalo Sabre Jason Pominville cut it to 2-1 even though his stick shattered as he took a shot on a partial breakaway. No problem for the B’s as Reilly Smith snapped a 15-game goalless stretch in the third period and Iginla added an empty netter.
Boston goes for its 10th straight victory (which would tie Anaheim for the best streak of the season) Tuesday (7 p.m., NESN) at New Jersey (29-26-13).
What they'll be saying: Boston had actually never beaten Minnesota at TD Garden entering Monday as the Wild were 6-0-0-0.
Speaking of history, Iginla played in his 1300th NHL game. He is the fifth active NHL player to reach that (Jagr, Teemu Selanne, Shane Doan and Ray Whitney) and only the 55th in league history. His next mark to shoot for is 30-plus goals, which he’s done 11 times (continuously 1999-2000 through 2011-12).
Nathan Horton who? Johnny Boychuk is day-to-day with a bruised right leg so Andrej Meszaros was back in there after sitting on Saturday vs. Carolina. Meszaros had an assist on Iginla’s first goal, his first as a Bruin and second point overall (he had a goal in his debut).
With another back-to-back looming on the West Coast this weekend (Colorado on Friday then Phoenix on Saturday) Chad Johnson should be in goal vs. New Jersey.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate