BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward Chris Kelly made sure that goaltender Tuukka Rask’s dominant month of January ended on a winning note Saturday.
Kelly’s goal at 14:33 of the third period gave Boston the lead, and Rask made 30 saves in a 3-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings at TD Garden.
Forward Brad Marchand scored twice, including an empty-net goal, for the Bruins (27-16-7).
"[Rask is] definitely playing great and we need that from him if we’re going to win and we’re going to come back and make a climb [in the standings]," Marchand said. "We’re going to need him to play big every night, and he has been so far. So we owe him a lot of credit and hopefully he continues to play the same way."
Rask finished 7-1-3 with a .949 save percentage and 1.61 goals-against average in January. He made 14 saves on 15 shots in the third period and the Bruins won their second consecutive game. Boston defeated one of the best Eastern Conference teams, the New York Islanders, on Thursday. The Bruins followed up with a victory against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"We showed early in the year that we could play against anybody," Rask said. "And then we’ve had good periods and then we just haven’t been able to keep that up and we’ve lost to Chicago, Anaheim, really good teams. So it’s not shocking for us that we’ve beaten these teams. But you know it’s a good sign. You look at the Islanders. They’re a fast and skilled team who like to gain the speed and make nice plays. And we managed them pretty well. And today we played a heavy team who plays a north-to-south game and we managed that well too. So it’s a real good confidence booster going into the future because you have to be able to beat everybody."
Kelly was at the right hash mark when he tipped a Carl Soderberg shot from the right point past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick 1:33 after the Kings tied the game.
"I think a lot of times I try to stay in front of the net. And for whatever reason I decided to -- I saw Carl rolling up high -- and I decided to pull out a little bit, try to get a deflection on it," Kelly said. "Quick’s such a good goalie. Even the goals that go in, it looks like he saves them. So it was nice to go in."
The Kings (21-16-2) are 5-10-6 on the road and lost the opener of a five-game trip. Quick made 30 saves.
"I thought we played really well," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "It’s just, you know what? You don’t get many opportunities -- either team, against each other -- and we probably had some real high, what we’d call Grade A chances. You’ve got to bury one of them, and we weren’t able to."
Marchand failed to get off a shot on a breakaway with less than five minutes to play in the second period. But a couple minutes later he scored the first goal of the game.
His wrist shot from the top of the left circle eluded at least two screens and Quick never reacted to the puck that crossed the goal line at 17:20 to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Marchand warded off several defenders before starting the scoring play.
"Any time you’re in a battle, and it ends up in a goal, you always feel good about yourself and about your teammates," Marchand said. "You know you did your job, so it was nice that we all put in the work, and it ended up in a goal."
Quick’s shutout streak against Boston ended at 108:27 dating to Jan. 20, 2014.
Rask kept the Bruins in the lead with 10 saves in the second period. His best came on a Nick Shore breakaway at 13:23.
The Kings solved Rask to tie the game 1-1 when Jordan Nolan’s shot from the left half wall tipped off Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s stick at 13:00 of the third period. But the Bruins, who defeated the Islanders 5-2 after squandering a 2-0 lead, didn’t let the Kings’ goal deflate them.
"They came to play and it was great to see us step up to the challenge of the game that they brought," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "So it was definitely one of those games that you want to be a part of. Intensity was high, you can feel the emotion in the crowd, and it was great that we were able to step up our game and get this one here tonight."
The Kings play at the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. The Bruins play the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.