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Bruins rally past Coyotes for 12th straight win

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Boston Bruins proved Saturday night that they can win while coming from behind just as well as they can when playing with a lead.

The Bruins scored three times in the third period to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2, extending their winning streak to 12 games. The Bruins hadn't trailed in a game since March 9, but playing on back-to-back nights against a Phoenix team on a little run of its own, they had to rally and use their depth to once again own the third period.

Fourth-liner Shawn Thornton tipped a Daniel Paille shot past goalie Mike Smith with 3:18 left in regulation for the go-ahead goal.

"I'm glad it went in. Everyone had a lot of chances tonight and it was a little bit frustrating for (our line) until then," Thornton said. "We were creating a lot of stuff, but nothing was going in. I'm happy we got rewarded for the hard work eventually."

Jarome Iginla had two goals, including an empty-netter with 31.7 seconds remaining, in a game played before a packed house of 17,468 at Arena that included many fans sporting Boston colors, Iginla tied the game early in the third period with the 557th goal of his career, moving him past Bruins great Johnny Bucyk into 25th place on the League's all-time goal-scoring list.

Bucyk still works for the Boston organization and has followed Iginla's quest to reach the top 25.

"I feel blessed to be up on that list, and to play here and get to know him makes it special," Iginla said. "He's been great. He's been cheering me on all year and we've been joking back and forth. Getting to know a guy who played with the Original Six and had all the success he had, it's pretty special."

The 12-game winning streak is Boston's longest since the 1970-71 team won 13 in a row and is two shy of the franchise record, set in 1929-30. The Bruins, now the leader in the overall standings with 103 points, return home and will go for their 13th in a row against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

Boston hasn't lost since the Washington Capitals won 4-2 at TD Garden on March 1. The Bruins hadn't trailed in a game in 13 days; they rallied from a 2-1 deficit to beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 on March 9.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask made 30 saves to help the Bruins beat the Coyotes for the second time in nine days.

"We look for these kinds of games right now," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We don't want any easy games. We want to get better as a team and these kinds of games allow you to do that. They are a real good team and we knew they were going to come out hard. The first period we just kind of weathered the storm and from the second period on I thought we got a lot better."

Patrice Bergeron also scored for Boston. Shane Doan and Oliver Ekman-Larsson had goals for the Coyotes.

Smith made 24 saves for the Coyotes, who had their three-game winning streak snapped and saw their lead over the Dallas Stars cut to two points in the race for the second Western Conference wild-card spot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"You usually get what you deserve," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We didn't win enough battles down low, their defensemen had a lot of shots at the net and that comes directly from losing battles. They just kept chipping away and got a couple of goals that redirected and found their way in."

The Coyotes outshot Boston 16-7 in the first period and had the Bruins on their heels early. But a giveaway by Phoenix allowed the Bruins to score first.

Smith tried to send the puck up the middle of the ice, but defenseman Andrej Meszaros picked off the pass at the blue line. He fed Bergeron for a shot that Smith stopped, but Bergeron kept whacking at the rebound and nudged it under Smith's pad at 3:25. It was Bergeron's 22nd goal and third in three games.

The Bruins kept coming, but Brad Marchand, Carl Soderberg and Thornton all missed the net on scoring chances. Then the Coyotes turned the play the other way and were rewarded.

Mike Ribeiro controlled the puck behind the net and bought time until he found Brandon McMillan in the slot. Rask went down to stop the shot, but Doan was waiting at the crease to pop the rebound up and in at 11:45. Doan reached the 20-goal mark for the 12th time as a Coyote and the 12th time in the past 13 full seasons.

Rask kept the score even with a sprawling stick save on Lauri Korpikoski, and the Coyotes missed another chance when a Mikkel Boedker deflection of an Antoine Vermette shot smacked the far post.

Ekman-Larsson made the play of the night when he put the Coyotes ahead with a power-play goal 39 seconds into the second period.

Starting in his own zone, Ekman-Larsson picked up speed, forced defender Loui Erickson to reach and put the puck around his skates. Rask stopped his first shot, but Ekman-Larsson got his own rebound and popped it inside the near post at 39 seconds.

"I was looking for someone to pass to and I didn't see anybody," Ekman-Larsson said. "So I figured I'll do it by myself then."

Ekman-Larsson's 12th goal of the season gave Phoenix a 2-1 lead, and for the first time in 20 periods, the Bruins trailed in a game. But one goal wasn't enough of a stagger.

"We need to be up more than one or two by that point in the game," Doan said. "We controlled the game but we left them hanging around and they found a way to come back."

The third period was all Boston. Their three third-period goals Saturday give the Bruins 92 this season, 12 more than the second-place Chicago Blackhawks.

With the teams skating 4-on-4 and Iginla screening Smith in front, Dougie Hamilton set up Boston captain Zdeno Chara for a booming shot from the high slot. The puck deflected off Iginla's upper body and went past Smith at 3:48 to tie the game 2-2.

"That one was my fault," Doan said. "I got caught low. I can't let that happen when it's 4-on-4 hockey."

It stayed that way until Thornton and the fourth line put Boston in front to stay.

"Huge goal by Thorty," Iginla said. "Just before that, his line had a great chance every shift. In these tight games being able to go with four lines and be able to keep that forecheck, we get better chances as the third [period] goes on."

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