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Rask returns to help Bruins defeat Coyotes

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- Five Boston Bruins had a multipoint game, and goaltender Tuukka Rask made 31 saves when they opened a four-game homestand with a 4-1 victory against the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden on Saturday.

Forwards Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and defenseman Zdeno Chara had one goal and one assist each, and Reilly Smith had two assists for the Bruins (31-22-9).

The Bruins, who have won six in a row against the Coyotes since Oct. 9, 2010, were in an 0-4-2 slump when they finished a recent five-game road trip. But they swept a back-to-back against the Coyotes and New Jersey Devils this weekend and are 3-1-0 in their past four games.

"The last few that we've lost we felt that we easily could've won," Marchand said. "We outplayed them. And you know it just seems when things are going wrong and you're having a season like we are right now, you know you play good hockey and you still end up with a loss. There's other years like last year where you don't always play your best but you always seem to find a way to win. We're very happy with how we're progressing and we're turning the corner and we're playing good hockey right now. So we're going to continue to build on it and continue to be better."

Rask, who played in 18 straight games before missing the 3-2 win against the Devils because he was ill Friday, had a shutout until 10:21 of the third period.

"It wasn't the hardest game; obviously you only have 30 hours to get all your energy and fluids back or you don't feel 100 percent out there," Rask said. "But then again, when you don't feel like that you just try to focus on the right things. I felt like I didn't do anything extra out there today; I was just trying to stay and be in the right position."

Forward Martin Erat scored for the Coyotes (20-36-7), who have lost nine in a row and went 0-4-0 on their road trip.

"You have to be embarrassed," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "I don't care how old you are, you have to be really embarrassed. You better be really embarrassed."

Arizona goaltender Mike Smith was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 20 shots. Backup Louis Domingue stopped the 14 shots he faced.

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett partially blamed the distraction of the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday for their recent struggles.

"Very much so. We have been dragging through this for a month now," Tippett said. "They are good people, good players that are possibly going to move, that's a miserable feeling in there. Between losing and guys not knowing where they are going to be, that's a hard thing to deal with. Hopefully we can get past that and come out of the deadline with whoever is in the lineup and hopefully get to work."

The Bruins took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Milan Lucic after Mike Smith missed a David Pastrnak dump-in. The bouncing puck went behind the Arizona net, where Lucic grabbed it and then banked it off the back of the goalie's pad into the net at 2:40.

Marchand gave Boston a 2-0 lead with a shot from the left dot that beat Mike Smith inside the far post at 14:13. Marchand started the breakout with a pass out of the Boston zone to Patrice Bergeron, and then Reilly Smith set up Marchand's shot.

Boston leads the Florida Panthers by four points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

"One thing that we say often is that we really kind of try to prepare ourselves right now. You know I said to the guys before the game, 'It's not who we play, it's how we play that matters right now from here until the end,' and that's the approach we have to take," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We can't afford to not be prepared for games like this just because of their record right now or what they've been going through. I think it's important if we want to be in those playoff spots that we are a team that's ready to play on a nightly basis, and we've got to gain as many points as we can."

The line of Marchand, Bergeron and Reilly Smith was on the ice for the Bruins' third goal. Bergeron's backhand to the front of the net went past Reilly Smith and deflected off Arizona defenseman Keith Yandle's skate before beating Smith at 3:02 of the second period.

Chara's power-play goal put the Bruins ahead 4-0 at 11:50 and sent Mike Smith to the bench in favor of Domingue.

Arizona scored with 9:39 left, when Erat tipped a Shane Doan pass by Rask.

The Bruins are off until they host the Calgary Flames on Thursday. The Coyotes return home to play the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

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