On Saturday, they needed something extra, and in the end, they won with grit and character.
After falling behind for the first time in seven games, the B’s staged a furious third-period comeback to take down the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 and keep their winning streak alive.
“I think the first 30 minutes, they controlled the tempo, controlled the pace,” said forward Shawn Thornton after the game. “Halfway through the second, I thought we started to find our game, and I thought we turned it on from there. And you'll probably hear this a bunch, but I thought it was a pretty good character win.”
“I thought the guys did a good job of battling back. It seemed like everyone was going. Tuukka [Rask] played a great game and kept us in it, and it seemed like we just kept chipping away, chipping away.”
Forward Jarome Iginla was proud of the way the Bruins fought against a desperate team that is battling to stay in postseason contention.
“Honestly, it just feels really good as a team,” he said. “It's been fun. We go into each game, try to have the same approach. Coyotes are a good team, they're...in the hunt right now. You know how desperate they are, so it's been a lot of good challenges. Good to find ways to win games, and tonight was a very tough game.”
Boston entered this game with a plus-41 rating in the third period and a 89-48 scoring differential. On Saturday, they showed exactly why they’re so dangerous in the final frame.
“I think we all look for [these] kind of games right now — we don't want any easy games,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “We want to get better as a team, and those kind of games allow you to do that, because tonight, in my mind, it showed a lot of our character.”
“We needed to show a lot of character there in the third to come back and win that, and we did. We just did all of the right things, and we were determined to win, and it showed.”
Initially, the B’s seemed to have gotten off to the start they wanted. Patrice Bergeron lit the lamp first, capitalizing on a rebound after Andrej Meszaros forced a turnover in Boston’s offensive zone and put the puck on net.
But about eight minutes later, Phoenix captain Shane Doan notched his 20th of the season, beating Tuukka Rask to tie the game.
The B’s allowed 16 first-period shots and committed two key penalties at the end of the frame, including one that stretched into the second. The Coyotes, who boast the league’s third-best power play, took advantage, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson took the puck all the way up the ice, splitting the defenders and putting his own rebound past Rask to give the Coyotes the 2-1 lead.
Once the third period hit, though, it was a different story.
In the midst of a 4-on-4 about four minutes into the frame, Zdeno Chara let loose a bomb from the slot that deflected off Iginla and past Mike Smith to even the score at 2.
“It went off my pants — just a good bounce off of there,” Iginla said. “I wasn't moving to try and touch it. It just hit me, and it was pure luck on my part, but a great shot from him trying to shoot around me.”
“Honestly, I was pretty excited that it [pretty much] missed me and went in,” he added, smiling. “But yeah, with him walking into a shot there, I think he can beat anybody without a screen, and I was just trying to stand in front of the goalie, and fortunately, a good bounce.”
Iginla also struck for the empty-netter with about 30 seconds left in regulation. With the two goals, Iginla passes Bruins legend Johnny Bucyk for 25th place on the all-time goals list.
“I definitely feel blessed to be able to be up on that list, and get a chance to play here [with Bucyk here], it makes it more special. And he's been great. He's been cheering me on all year, and we've been joking back and forth and stuff, so it is pretty cool. Just to get the chance to know him and be on an Original Six team that, you know, all of the success he had and the legend he is… It's pretty special.”
Thornton notched the game-winner with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, proving once again that Boston’s ability to wear opponents down with four strong lines is what makes this team so dangerous.
“In between the second and third, we felt like we were going in the right direction,” Thornton said. “We tried not to get discouraged, keep playing that way and we're a fairly good team in the third, and we had to go prove it again.”
“Third period, probably credit goes to the fact that we had four lines going tonight,” Julien said. “We were capable of using our whole bench, and that fourth line was creating some chances before it even scored, so big goal by them, and that allowed us to keep the pace of our game up where we wanted it.”
“Again, I can't say enough about being able to use all of our bench, because it's been a trademark of ours, but also it's been one of the reasons we've been able to come out of these kind of games with wins.”