No team pushed the Bruins to the limit more during their win streak than the Coyotes, but on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix (34-26-11) still went down 4-2 to Boston (49-17-5). The Bruins have now won 12 straight, their longest stretch since 1971 when they captured 13 in a row. This was a tougher task since Phoenix actually led 2-1 in the second period -- Boston hadn’t trailed since March 9 vs. Florida. However, Boston closed it out with three goals in the third period including a pair from Jarome Iginla and a game-winner from a most unlikely source -- Shawn Thornton.
Playing the second game of a back-to-back, the B’s were outshot 15-7 in the first period but Tuukka Rask (who had Friday night off) was on his game with 30 saves. The Coyotes, or more specifically goaltender Mike Smith (24 saves) gift-wrapped Boston’s first goal. Smith tried to clear it out of his own end but Andrej Meszaros intercepted it and Patrice Bergeron was there to put in the rebound. The always underrated Shane Doan tied it later in the first on a rebound -- it marked the 12th time in his amazing career that he’s put up 20 goals. That was also the first time in 11 games that Boston had allowed a first period goal.
Loui Eriksson’s Team Sweden teammate Oliver Ekman-Larsson put the Coyotes up 2-1 37 seconds into the second on a brilliant individual move then he followed his own rebound. Boston has the best goal-differential and they’ve scored the most third period goals in the NHL so they lived up to that reputation. Zdeno Chara’s blast went off Iginla into the net to tie it early in the frame. Then the best fourth line in the league combined for a memorable goal. Gregory Campbell had the puck behind the net then Daniel Paille swung it in front where Thornton was able to tip it in. Iginla’s empty-netter (his 100th career multi-goal game) sealed the thrilling victory.
Boston wrapped up a 3-0 road trip and they come back to TD Garden for two primetime games: Monday (7:30, NBCSN) vs. Montreal and Thursday (7:00, NESN) vs. Chicago.
What They’ll Be Saying: For a regular season game, between two teams that rarely see each other from different conferences, it doesn’t get much better than that. Apparently some bad blood carried over from Boston’s 2-1 win over Phoenix at TD Garden on March 13 as both teams had 31 hits and three power plays in a very chippy, but mostly well played affair.
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With this victory, Boston has the most points (103) in the NHL. Keep in mind that St. Louis (101 points) has played one less game. They also remain six points ahead of Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference, while the Penguins have a game in hand.
Johnny Boychuk returned after missing three games with a leg injury. He seemed fine, playing 22:58(second-most on the team behind Chara’s 23:20) with three blocked shots and three hits. Torey Krug, Jordan Caron and Corey Potter were the scratches for the Bruins. Head coach Claude Julien must not be thrilled with Krug’s play lately or he’s just a bad matchup for Phoenix since he sat for both games against them.
There is a good chance that the win streak will end this week since after the Canadiens and Blackhawks, as Boston goes to Washington and Philadelphia next weekend. It might be their toughest week of the regular season, a good tuneup for the playoffs.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate