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Bruins beat Coyotes, take over first in East

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask probably didn't mind that his workload against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night was a little lighter than it was 24 hours earlier in the first of back-to-back games.

After he stopped 35 shots in the Bruins' 4-1 road win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, Rask followed up with 21 saves in a 2-1 victory against the Coyotes at TD Garden to extend the Bruins' season-high winning streak to seven games.

Zdeno Chara and Jarome Iginla scored for Boston (44-17-5), which has lost once in regulation in its past 13 games (10-1-2) and moved one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Eastern Conference.

"Yeah, I think we're playing well," Iginla said. "I think there have been different types of games. I think a big part is, you know, we've had great goaltending all year and we had that in this [game]. But also it's been fun that it's been all different lines all different nights of the winning streak, and really all season, have been carrying the play on different nights. On some nights we have everybody going and we have an exploding night, but it's been fun."

After stopping all 10 Phoenix shots through two periods, Rask stopped 11 of 12 in the third period to improve to 30-14-4. The Bruins also blocked 15 shots.

"I don't think anybody enjoys it, really," Rask said about playing in back-to-back games. "But it was a late game [Wednesday]; we got in late. It's always kind of tough to sleep in that situation. But it's always challenging, but that's what they pay us [for]. We try to battle through it."

The Coyotes (31-25-11) finished their four-game road trip with a 2-2-0 record. Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith stopped 18 shots, and Lauri Korpikoski scored the Coyotes' only goal.

"Average," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said about his team's trip. "For where we are right now, yeah. Obviously, we need more points than we got, and .500 is not what we're looking for. That being said, we've got to go home and regroup. One stop at home and playing, then we're on the road again."

Chara put the Bruins on the scoreboard first at 5:54 of the first period. He intercepted Keith Yandle's clearing attempt at the blue line, then skated up to the top of the right circle for a high snap shot that beat Smith inside the far post for his 16th goal.

After the Bruins killed off a double minor for high sticking to right wing Jordan Caron, they took a 2-0 lead on a tip-in goal by Iginla from the slot at 17:31. Johnny Boychuk one-timed a shot from the right point that a wide-open Iginla deflected past Smith for his 21st goal.

The Coyotes had plenty of chances to avoid going scoreless in the first period, when Rask made eight saves. Rask robbed Brandon McMillan a couple of times, including a glove stop to deny his quick shot from the slot.

Just before Iginla's goal, McMillan's shot from the right half-wall deflected off Rask and Boston defenseman Dougie Hamilton, and Rask had to reach back and sweep the puck off the goal line.

Boston's 2-0 lead carried over into the third period. The Bruins outshot the Coyotes 3-2 in a tight-checking second period.

The Coyotes matched their second-period shot total in the opening 8:14 of the third period and scored on their second shot when Korpikoski tipped Oliver Ekman-Larsson's shot past Rask to cut the Bruins' lead to 2-1. It was Korpikoski's ninth goal.

Rask made one more great save to preserve the lead, diving to prevent Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette from stuffing the puck into the net with less than four minutes to play.

The Coyotes were 0-for-5 on the power play.

"We just didn't execute very well, and our power play got outworked, it's as simple as that," Tippett said. "Third period, the last one in the third, we actually started executing a little bit and moving; we had some chances. But if you're not willing to work and outwork penalty killers and use the advantage you have, you're not successful very often."

Bruins coach Claude Julien became the second coach in franchise history to reach 300 wins. Art Ross holds the franchise record with 387.

The Bruins remain home to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Phoenix will be home against the Calgary Flames that night.

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