BOSTON - For the first time during their recent surge, the Bruins were not pleased with the brand of hockey they were playing. An early lead had been erased and Boston knew it needed to improve quickly.
But it was not going to be easy given the situation they were facing. Only 22 seconds after Arizona tied the game in the second period, Colin Miller delivered an open-ice hit on Alexander Burmistrov that left the Coyotes forward down on the ice for several minutes before he was taken away on a stretcher.
Miller was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. A roughing call on Jakob Chychrun left Arizona with a three-minute power play and momentum on their side.
The game could have slipped away. But, in the end, it was the Bruins who grabbed control. With 1:42 remaining on Arizona's advantage, Riley Nash took a feed from Patrice Bergeron for a shorthanded goal that proved to be the winner as Boston tallied three unanswered goals en route to a 4-1 victory over the Coyotes Tuesday night at TD Garden.
"I think having that lead was key for us whether we were up 1-0 or 2-1," said Nash, who potted the Bruins' eighth shorthanded goal of the season. "That was big, we've been playing pretty good defensively through the neutral zone and the D-zone lately."
Video: Cassidy recaps Boston's 4-1 win over Arizona
Boston has now won seven of eight since Bruce Cassidy took over as interim head coach and 10 of its last 13 overall. After securing a 3-1-0 record during their lengthy West Coast swing, the Bruins knew they had to guard against a letdown as they returned home against a team outside of the playoff structure.
And while the Bruins acknowledged they did not play their prettiest game, they were pleased with their ability to grind out a victory.
"I think we tried to carry over the momentum that we created on the road," said Bergeron, who had two assists. "Sometimes it's not easy to come back after a long road trip with the time change and all that, so I thought we did a good job. It was maybe not the best start that we've gotten over the last few games, but I still thought we battled back. As soon as we got that second goal, it seemed like we got our game going."
The victory was also Boston's fourth consecutive win on home ice and sixth in the last seven games on Causeway Street to improve to 16-13-0 at TD Garden. With 12 of their final 19 games at the Garden, playing well in front of the home crowd is of the utmost importance.
"It's huge," added Bergeron. "We know that. If I'm not mistaken, we're going to play more home games until the end, so we know that it's going to be important to be good at home, so like you said, you know, those last four [home] games have been the way that we want to play at home."
Video: ARI@BOS: Bergeron steals puck, sets up Nash for SHG
Miller, a healthy scratch on Sunday against Dallas, got the Bruins on the board just 3:06 into the game when he joined the rush and took a pass from David Pastrnak, which he deposited past Mike Smith for a 1-0 lead.
Peter Holland tied the game with a power-play tally at 3:27 of the second, before the Bruins responded for three straight goals during the middle frame. Nash notched the shorty during Miller's major to put Boston ahead, 2-1, and David Backes and Brad Marchand followed with goals just 1:44 apart during the final two minutes of the period to put the game away.
"I think it's our resiliency," interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of what impressed him the most. " I mean, there's situations where - trap games they'll call them - where you come back off the road, that first game at home, can you keep and sustain the energy level? I know it was sloppy out there at times, but we pushed through it."
Video: ARI@BOS: Backes fires home one-timer from high slot
Colin Miller was issued a game misconduct and a five-minute major after his hit on Burmistrov early in the second. According to the Coyotes, Burmistrov, who was attended to on the ice for several minutes, was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Miller said he reached out to Burmistrov and wished him the best.
"I said, 'Hope you're feeling better' and stuff like that," said Miller. "He said he understands it's a hockey play. Sounds like he's doing better, we'll see.
"I was just trying to step up in the neutral-zone and make a play on him but you never like to see that with him going off in the stretcher."
Video: Colin Miller speaks with media postgame