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Bruins Get Much-Needed Lift, Capping Off Road Trip With 5-2 Win in Arizona

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

GLENDALE, Ariz. - There was a sense of relief in the Bruins' visiting team locker room on Saturday night in Arizona.

Finally getting a win on an 0-3 road trip can do that. Earning a 5-2 win over the Coyotes with a 60-minute effort makes it even better, especially after finally putting their words into action.

"Sometimes you come in and you say all these things, and you want to put it on the ice and sometimes it just doesn't work," said Brad Marchand, who scored twice in the much-needed victory. "So it was great that the guys took it upon themselves to go out and play the way we had to.

"You could see it in our game, we played a really good game, a full 60 minutes, so you've got to give the guys credit, they stepped up and answered the bell."

That response was expected from Head Coach Claude Julien, but it was still promising for the bench boss to actually see it show.

"We had lost three in a row, so I thought that there were two desperate teams here, and somebody had to be hungrier than the other," said Julien. "And it was nice to see that it was us."

"We didn't want to go back home having not won a game here, and I thought we played well enough on this trip that somewhere along the way, we should come out with a win."

"So this was our last crack at it, and we found a way to get that win that we desperately needed."

Losses to Anaheim and Los Angeles hadn't had the Bruins feeling grim because of their unrewarded efforts, but their 7-4 loss in San Jose two nights ago put a very apparent damper on the trip.

"We really wanted this win and we showed it," said a pleased Tuukka Rask, who stopped 24 of 26 shots in the win. "Battled for every puck, and backchecked, forechecked, skated, did everything we needed to do to win and we got rewarded with goals, too. Big win."

The Bruins showed up from the drop of the puck, with Marchand scoring just 58 seconds into the game. Dougie Hamilton read a Coyotes passing play in the neutral zone, picked off the puck and quickly fed it to Reilly Smith, who did the rest in setting up Marchand driving the net.

Boston made Arizona pay for another turnover at 5:58 into the first, after goalie Devan Dubnyk's wrapped a clearing attempt along the boards. Kevan Miller picked it off, fired one attempt and then put in his own rebound for his first goal of the season.

"We've really got to be happy with our effort," said Marchand. "We played within the system and it was one of our better games we've played in a while."

The Bruins let their guard down briefly after Dubnyk made a strong save on Daniel Paille in tight. Joe Vitale stormed right back the other way down the right wing, sniping a shot past Rask to make it a one-goal game heading to the second.

This game didn't have the feel of the one in San Jose, though, when the Bruins squandered an early 2-0 lead due to a disastrous second period.

"I don't think there was any comparison tonight. I thought our guys really focused well on winning battles, getting back quick, making strong plays and less turnovers than we've seen in a long time," said Julien. "A lot of pucks getting out of our end and a lot of pucks getting into theirs, and I think that was a real key to our success here."

"I just think we were better prepared overall as far as putting in a 60-minute effort."

"I think you could sense it in the room, we weren't panicking and when we came out, we knew we had to play the same way we did in the first," said Marchand. "We really focused on doing that in between the first and second and we came out and had another really good period."

The Bruins put up a three-goal second period to take a 5-1 lead to the third, outshooting Arizona 12-7 in the middle frame and converting on a power play.

Simon Gagne went to the front of the net and had the puck bounce off of his shin and in behind Dubnyk at 8:34 into the period. The play wasn't called a goal on the ice, though the red goal light in the arena went off.

Video review confirmed that there was "conclusive evidence the puck was not kicked in" and the Bruins finally had their break. More importantly, they regained their two-goal lead.

Then, with just over five minutes left in the period, Hamilton, Smith and Marchand connected for another goal to make it 4-1. Hamilton wrapped the puck up the boards into the neutral zone, where Smith picked it up with speed, winning a battle and streaking into the zone, with Marchand driving hard.

Smith slipped the puck to Marchand with his only passing option to sneak it between the Arizona defender's legs.

"It was the only hole he had and he just made it right through and I was like, 'oh my god'," Marchand smiled postgame. "That's what we need out of him, especially right now and it's a lot of fun watching him when he's playing like this."

Marchand and Smith each have two goals and two assists apiece through the past two games.

"Just closed my eyes and hope it went through," Smith smiled of the pass. "I think it just found a pocket between his legs, but it was pretty lucky."

"I think his game is starting to come around right now, so timing is good," Julien said of Smith, noting his game has been on the upswing for the past week and a half.

Loui Eriksson scored the Bruins' first power play goal since November 13 to make it 5-1 and break an 0-for-19 drought on the man advantage.

"We were winning a lot of draws, I think that was a big factor - you get the puck at the start in their zone and we were getting the pucks to the net pretty good and we were putting them on their heels," said Smith.

The Bruins only had two power play opportunities, but gained a large dose of momentum from the first, and converted on the second.

"Even if we only scored the one goal, we had a lot of chances and it was nice to see our power play execute a lot better than it has lately," said Julien.

The Bruins allowed Arizona to convert in the third period with just four seconds left on a holding penalty to Milan Lucic, but they didn't let that kill their control of the game.

"We talked about it, we've got to push the pace, and today we really did," said Rask. "You know, D's weren't messing around with the puck. We just had it, made one pass, and got it up right away and guys were going and forechecking, and that brings the pace of our game up and helps to prevent those turnovers, too."

Mistakes had cost the Bruins until this point of the road trip. That aspect of their game had caused them to pick up two losses in Southern California despite solid showings.

It may have taken a stretch of three straight losses, and five defeats in six games, but the Bruins finally put together a game that produced the desired result.

"You're heading home the next day, you need to get some points and it's a waste of a trip if you don't," said Smith. "So I think we did some good things as a team and we can build on that for sure."

"Pride was definitely a word that was thrown around. I don't think it was such a horrible road trip," Smith added. "The first two games, the process was good we just didn't get the results that we needed, and the third game against San Jose we came out hard but couldn't put a full 60 minutes together so we were able to put both of those together, and it's a good stepping stone for our next game because it's going to be a tough one against Chicago."

The Bruins don't play again until December 11 against the Blackhawks at TD Garden. They'll need to put forth an even stronger effort and an entire game's worth of work to find success against another one of the West's best.

"It's been weird this year, because we talk about it a lot and then we show it for 20 or 30 minutes," said Rask. "We work and make plays and do good things, and then things just collapse within the games. [In this game] we were focused on really battling and then leaving everything out there, and it showed."

"I thought we really played a solid, solid 60 minutes."

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