A four-day break seems to have suited the Boston Bruins.
Jarome Iginla scored twice during a four-point afternoon, Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots and the Bruins assured they would remain in first place in the Atlantic Division with a 6-1 rout of the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had two goals to snap a 14-game drought, and Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron also scored. Boston is tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 Saturday, and has two games in hand.
"Right from the first shift we were into it," Iginla said. "Every line was ready to go. You don't get many breaks during the season, and when you get them you want to make the most, show coach you can handle it too. We were fortunate to get a couple days away from the ice and a couple good days of practice. It was good to get back out there, and everyone played really well."
The Bruins hadn't played since Monday afternoon, when they defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-2, and appeared to be the much fresher team.
"I think we got going after the first 5-10 minutes of the game, got momentum and did some of the things we talked about to get success," Bergeron told NESN following the second period. "Our execution was pretty good."
Philadelphia's winless streak extended to four games (0-3-1).
"We have to get better," Giroux said. "We're going away from how we want to be as a team and how we were winning games."
The Flyers, who lead the NHL in penalty minutes per game, took a pair of minor penalties early in the first period. They killed a boarding penalty to Nicklas Grossmann at 3:07, but when Giroux was sent off for tripping at 5:32, the Bruins were able to capitalize.
Iginla found Chara down low and his shot from the right side of the net deflected off Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn past Mason at 6:30. Chara hadn't scored since a two-goal game against the Calgary Flames on Dec. 17.
Midway through the first, the Bruins kept the Flyers hemmed in their end for a shift lasting longer than a minute, but Mason stonewalled them. He also made a glove save to rob David Krejci with 35.1 seconds remaining in the period.
But the Bruins kept buzzing and Iginla doubled their lead with 17.1 seconds left, ripping the puck past Mason from the right circle off a feed from Milan Lucic. That snapped an eight-game goal drought for Iginla.
"We've been going through kind of a tough stretch, I know myself I have, but you try to stay positive," Iginla said. "Some nights you get chances and they don't go; fortunately this afternoon it was a good day where the bounces went our way."
Evidence of that was Smith extending the lead to 3-0 with a brilliant play at 6:59 of the second period.
The Bruins had been controlling the offensive flow again when Smith burst through the middle, split Grossmann and defense partner Mark Streit, and got off a shot while losing his balance. The puck hit the post, then caromed off the back of Mason's leg into the net. It was Smith's 16th goal, tying him with Brad Marchand for the team lead.
Rask kept the Flyers off the scoreboard moments later by sliding across his crease to snag a Jakub Voracek one-timer off a 3-on-2 rush. The win was Rask's career-high 23rd of the season.
"He made some big saves," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "They had a couple good scoring chances on those cross passes and he slid over and made the saves. It was a good game for him."
Bergeron's rebound goal at 13:10 chased Mason. Bergeron spun off the boards in the left corner and found Marchand for a shot from the left circle that Mason stopped. But the rebound ended up right on the stick of Bergeron, who snapped it into the net for his 13th goal of the season and brought Ray Emery off the Philadelphia bench.
Rask's shutout ended on Giroux's power-play goal 7:55 into the third. Chara was in the box for holding when Voracek set up Giroux for a one-time blast from the left circle.
The Bruins got the four-goal lead right back when Iginla scored his 15th by one-timing Torey Krug's feed for a power-play goal 10 seconds after Grossmann was whistled for a four-minute high-sticking penalty against Boston forward Jordan Caron. He left the game briefly but returned to play three more shifts.
Chara scored his 11th of the season and second of the game on the back end of the double minor, converting a pass from Iginla who moved down low and sent the puck across the crease for the easy tap in past Emery, who made 11 saves.
"[Caron] has a chipped tooth and another that's about ready to fall out, but he got us two goals," Julien said with a smile.