Maybe the Bruins just needed a little road cookin’?
“Well, it’s always been good for us,” Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame on Saturday from Gila River Arena. “I think it has been for our group as well — spending some time together and able to mesh a little bit more.”
“We said the road trip was hopefully going to be a good thing for us and we just had to go out there and prove it, so I think our guys did a great job in these last two games.”
Down 1-0 to the Coyotes just two minutes into the game, the Bruins surged back to take a 3-1 lead early in the third.
Second period goals from Tyler Randell, who scored his second NHL goal to knot the game at 1-1, and David Krejci, who converted on the power play for his team-leading fourth goal of the season, started the comeback.
Brad Marchand cherry picked Arizona’s man advantage just under five minutes into the third and lifted a backhander past goalie Mike Smith for a shorthanded tally that made it 3-1 and marked his first goal of 2015-16. It was Marchand’s first game back from a concussion sustained on Oct. 10.
The no-quit Coyotes surged in the third period, making it a one-goal game with a power play marker 13 seconds after Marchand’s tally and then tying it up 3-3 just 2:24 later.
But the Bruins kept their calm.
Patrice Bergeron tipped in the game-winner on the man advantage at 9:10 of the third and then gave Boston its third power play goal of the night with 1:06 to go for the 5-3 win.
“We showed a lot of character all night to stay in the game and to find a way to get the lead and to sustain it,” said Bergeron, who had an assist in addition to his two tallies, along with eight shots on goal, in 22:09 of ice time.
After the Bruins outshot the Coyotes 33-10 through the first 40 minutes, the home team tilted the rink towards Tuukka Rask in the third, earning a 13-10 shots advantage and getting two goals through.
“Everybody talks that we’re a young team, but that’s a good building block for us,” said Rask. “Even though we get scored on, we keep pushing and going back at them and that’s something you have to learn in this League and we did that.”
"I thought we showed a lot of composure and resiliency,” said Marchand. “Even when they came back, we didn’t lose our heads, we were calm and we did a great job of coming back.”
“So I think we’ve got to be proud of ourselves for the last couple of games, and want to keep building on it.”
As in their previous four matchups, the Bruins again started the game with energy. Their 6-2 win over Colorado on Wednesday, an off day Thursday and a solid practice day Friday gave them extra jump.
One mistake ended up in the back of the net, though, just 2:12 into the first period.
Defenseman Tommy Cross, playing in his second NHL game, attempted a pass up the middle to Ryan Spooner on the breakout, but it didn’t connect. Shane Doan’s initial shot was stopped by Rask, even with Joe Vitale camped in his crease, battling with Kevan Miller. The puck bounced off Miller’s skate and out to Doan, who potted his 900th NHL point on the rebound.
Julien utilized his Coach’s Challenge for goaltender interference. After video review, the call on the ice stood as a good goal, with the Black & Gold finding themselves in an early hole.
“They just said that they felt our goaltender had an opportunity to I guess get back into position,” said Julien.
“It’s a little confusing right now and hopefully we’ll look into that and try and figure out what the referees are seeing,” he added. “All I know is as he scrambled across the crease from his goal line to get across there, so that’s the way it goes. But it’s fortunate for us that we won the game and that really didn’t become an issue.”
The Bruins responded with a strong shift by Krejci’s line and continued to bring the heat, outshooting the Coyotes 9-1 midway through he first and 14-6 in the period. It was about as good of a period they could have had, without seeing the results on the score sheet.
It wasn’t until 8:42 of the second period that they were able to break through.
Krejci hit Randell in stride down the left side mid line change and the forward slid the puck to his backhand before getting it past Smith. It was Randell’s fourth shift of the game. He scored within his first 2:24 of ice time and ended the night with 4:07. It marked his second career NHL goal on just his second shot on goal, making him a perfect 2-for-2 at the NHL level.
“He’s a great guy. He works really hard and every time he’s on the ice, you notice him, whether it’s a forecheck, or just a good defensive play,” said Krejci. “So he’s playing really well, he’s working hard and he’s been rewarded the last two games.”
Randell remained in the lineup on Saturday night after scoring in his debut. He brought energy along with linemates Zac Rinaldo and Joonas Kemppainen although they had limited ice time as a line.
Brett Connolly ended up the odd man out with Marchand back in the lineup. Julien had been reluctant to change his personnel after the Bruins’ strong 6-2 win in Colorado.
Besides Marchand’s return, the only lineup change was Rask back between the pipes after Jonas Gustavsson got his start against the Avs.
“He was good,” Julien said of Rask. “And the goals that were scored on him, there was people around the net and he made the first save and we didn’t do a good job of clearing those loose pucks, so I can’t fault him for that. So it was nice to see him play much better and hopefully he can build on this.”
Rask only faced seven shots in the first and four in the second, but had to be alert. He stopped a Tobias Rieder redirect in tight in the opening frame to keep it a one-goal deficit.
“I didn’t have a lot of shots there in the first two periods, but when they did have some, they were pretty tough,” said Rask, who had been looking forward to a bounce-back performance after a tough 0-3 start to the season.
“I was happy to make those saves and keep us in it, and then the third was good hockey at both ends of the rink.”
One of Rask’s best saves of the night kept the game 1-1 midway through the second, when he slid left to right to get his blocker on a 2-on-1 bid from Rieder.
Rask followed that up with another 2-on-1 save while on the penalty kill, with Martin Hanzel getting denied point blank.
The sequence quickly shifted the other way, with Krejci firing in a one-timer teed up by Torey Krug for the go-ahead to give Boston a 2-1 lead heading into the third.
“They seem to be reading off each other well,” Julien said of the power play unit that features Krejci, Krug, Bergeron, Spooner and Loui Eriksson.
“They seem to know where they want to go. They’ve got confidence right now and they’ve got poise with the puck and every one of them on that power play has pretty good poise and so it’s nice to see that — it’s been important for us and it’s given us a pretty good win here.”
Marchand was energized in his return, firing five shots on goal and converting on his shorthanded tally that made it 3-1. He was buzzing all night.
“Felt good. I wanted to kind of see how I felt, especially early on, in kind of the rough stuff, and I was happy how I felt,” said Marchand. “Excited to be back with the guys and it was a big win.”
The Bruins were focused heading into the third. Despite falling back on their heels, they pressed.
“I thought we built some confidence in Colorado by playing hard for 60 minutes and we were trying to bring the same energy and same intensity, and go home with that momentum,” said Bergeron. “I thought we did that, we sustained our pressure all night. Even thought they came back in the game, right away we showed some character to get the lead and keep it, so we have to build from that.”
The Bruins also showed some fight — literally — getting into scrums and battles all night. Colin Miller took exception to a late shot after the whistle. The Bruins constantly protected Rask’s crease. Kevin Miller dropped the gloves with Joe Vitale, showing his heavyweight status.
This is a team that, albeit five games and just two wins into the season, is starting to show its identity.
“We kind of saw glimpses of that in the first few games — we just couldn’t sustain that,” said Rask. “So it’s a great sign.”