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Recap: Bruins toast Coyotes, 4-1

A strong start to the homestand gives the Bruins, and their fans, new hope.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Boston Bruins
Celebrations all around for the Bruins’ top forwards.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

What a wild game to watch. With scrappiness, big hits, and an abundance of scoring for the Bruins, this one was the pre-deadline romp the B’s needed. Their inspiring play should encourage management to show confidence and perhaps make a deadline-day move to bolster a newly potent offense. But, that’s for later today. For now, revel in the glory.

First Period

Arizona came out hitting, looking to put the Bruins on their heels and peeking over their shoulders. Sharp stops off shots from the circles by both goalies in the first three minutes showed that Mike Smith and Tuukka Rask were up to the tempo of this game early on. A chase-down by David Pastrnak drove the Coyotes deep into their zone, and Pasta found the second trailer in Colin Miller who fired home his fifth goal of the season. 1-0 Bruins.

Coach Bruce Cassidy continued to roll four lines, nearly netting two more goals - first out of the buzzing 4th line of Tim Schaller, Dominic Moore and Riley Nash, immediately followed by an amazing pass by Pasta from the corner to Peter Cehlarik passing through the low slot. Nash would say after the game about his line’s efficacy in creating chances down low: “[We] don’t really look to take chances offensively, but if they present themselves, we’ll try and take advantage.”

Arizona had trouble maintaining any zone time, but got a solid chance by carrying the puck into the high slot. The Bruins all collapsed on the play, and luckily made a few blocks and benefited from whiffs by the ‘Yotes, and nothing came of it.

On a power play with 9:51 to play, Pastrnak turned the puck over twice on consecutive zone entries, so the first unit was pulled after a shorter-than-average shift; the second unit managed to sustain zone time but barely found a shooting lane. Frank Vatrano took the lone shot, firing the puck from a tough angle as the PP expired.

After the PP, back and forth play would resume, with Tuukka making a handful of big saves to keep the game at 1-0. Matching penalties on a board scrum near the end of the period would create a 4-on-4 stretch, but not much sustained pressure came from either team. 20 minutes down.

Second Period

This period started off chippy, just like the first; the Coyotes were tasked with disrupting the Bruins by any means necessary. Post-whistle check finishes are causing scrums.

Brad Marchand took a slashing penalty less than two minutes into the frame during another scrappy goal-mouth scrum in front of Smith. The Coyotes struggled to get the powerplay going, but they’re finally able to strike as center Peter Holland collects a loose puck to the right of Tuukka, wraps it behind the net, and tucks it in. 1-1 game.

A huge, explosive, but likely clean hit by Colin Miller on Alexander Burmistrov left the Arizona forward down and out for the count; there was definitely hard impact but Chiller kept his arms in, and appeared to slow up before colliding with Burmistrov. The secondary hit - Burmistrov’s head hitting the ice, after being dazed by the initial contact - definitely contributed to the resulting injury, and Burmistrov was stabilized, backboarded, and left on a stretcher to a local medical center. Here’s a look - and be warned, it looks bad.

Chiller drew a charging major and a game misconduct, and was ejected - probably to protect him from the Coyotes’ wrath. We’d find out after the game that there may not be supplemental discipline, and Chiller took the high road after the game by keeping tabs on his victim as he reached out via text.

Arizona defenseman Jakob Chychrun took immediate exception to the hit, and was charged with a roughing penalty for tackling Chiller in retaliation, so the B’s had Jimmy Hayes serve Chiller’s major and, after the 2-minute 4-on-4 ended and Chychrun exited the box, the B’s were faced with a 3-minute penalty kill.

On that kill, the forward set of Patrice Bergeron and Nash were able to pin the puck low on Arizona, and Bergeron fed Nash alone in the slot, where he made no mistake, putting a shot low to the blocker side of Smith for his 4th goal of the year, and shorthanded to boot - the first SHG of his career. 2-1, Bruins.

As play returned to even strength, the game still had a bit of a pall over it; both teams were trying to be deliberate in their zone exits and encountered trouble from each other in the neutral zone, opting to dump and chase more often than not. Nearly all of the play for the next ten minutes after Nash’s goal was back-and-forth, with hits landing and a handful of shots from each team. Once the speed picked up again, Arizona was able to get some sustained pressure on the Bruins’ defense, but Tuukka stood tall.

With less than two minutes to go in the period, David Backes played strong at the side boards and dumped the puck low, then coasted to the top of the circles and buried the return feed from Brad Marchand to put the Bruins on the board again. 3-1, Bruins.

Seemingly content with holding a two-goal deficit, the Coyotes started to coast with less than a minute remaining, and Marchand capitalized on a giveaway by ‘Yotes defenseman Alex Goligoski, taking a puck left on the blue line and faking a shot before circling the net and tucking the puck just past Smith’s left foot for the unassisted goal with ten seconds remaining. 4-1 Bruins would be the score heading into the locker room for the second intermission.

Third Period

Mike Smith is benched to start this period in favor of backup goalie Louis Domingue. Arizona needs a spark, and they know it. Hopefully Smith can recover from the third-degree burn by Marchand.

The Bruins came out on top of the possession game early in this period. At least half of the first two minutes of the period was spent in the Coyotes zone, and they pinched the ‘Yotes off at their blue line on three entry attempts in a row, leading to turnovers. Arizona changed to a dump-in strategy, and five minutes in, the play started to even out. The B’s became content with allowing Arizona to dump the puck, and started to have trouble collecting and clearing it. The same happens in the offensive zone - not enough forecheck, even from a single forward, allowed Arizona time to set up their exit, and it started to work.

With twelve minutes to play, the mojo starts to return to the B’s, with Patrice’s Pals setting up shop in the Coyotes zone. Backes pinned one set of boards, Bergeron the other, and Marchand was free to control the puck as he pleased. A couple point shots got through on Domingue on the puck cycle, though the clear lanes allowed him to swallow up the shot and give up no rebounds.

The Vatrano - Ryan Spooner - Jimmy Hayes trio decides they like what they see from the Bergeron line and do their best to imitate it. Hayes - JIMMY HAYES - does his best Marchand impression and trolls around below the goal line with the puck for at least a few seconds before cycling the puck to Spooner at the half-wall. Schaller/Moore/Nash would get their 3-man cycle going as well, and with the exception of a couple minor penalties and the remaining salty feelings left in this game, the period would peter out without much additional fanfare. 4-1, Bruins, Final Score.

Lingering Thoughts

  • Following a strong road trip, the Bruins confidently handled themselves in their return home, marking their 4th consecutive win at TD Garden. As Bergeron said postgame, “We tried to carry over the momentum that we created on the road, sometimes it’s not easy to come back after a long trip... we create some confidence on the road, and we just told ourselves to go back to what’s successful lately, which is keeping things simple and playing a hard game.”
  • With the 3-goal lead entering the third period, Cassidy made sure to utilize all of his players, especially with Colin Miller having been ejected. The forward effort took some pressure off of the shortened defensive bench and helped to close this game out on the right foot.
  • Without dismissing the glow of a 4-1 win, there were many other chances to score in this game. The Bruins were able to hold Arizona to one, and while they had their own chances, the Bruins could’ve easily tacked on another 2-3 goals - not including hit posts. The 4th line had two golden chances in the first period.
  • MARCHAND IS ON FIRE. 21 points in his last 13 games. Him and Bergeron each had two points in this game - 1-1 for Marchy, 2 assists for Saint Patrice.
  • Not that we’re complaining, but the Bruins’ fancystats has more or less flipped as of late - rather than leading in shot events and scoring chances, they trailed Arizona for the second and third periods, but came out well ahead on the scoresheet. Hey... a win is a win is a WIN.
  • On to the Rangers, who visit Boston on Thursday evening and who are most definitely not the Arizona Coyotes. The Blueshirts have 82 points - ten more than the Bruins - but sit in the first Wild Card slot behind dominatrices Washington, Columbus and Pittsburgh. They’re firmly, though not assuredly, in the playoff picture given that they’re still ahead of every team in the Atlantic Division, and Toronto holds second Wild Card slot with 69 points. (P.S. - the Leafs lost to San Jose last night, and now hold only one game in hand on the Bruins.) Nothing’s impossible, but let’s be serious.
  • Just. One. More. Day. Until. The. Trade. Deadline. Passes. The stress is palpable, and while Sweeney says he’ll be more of a passive player, we’ll only know at 3pm tomorrow afternoon. At least we won’t get Steve Ott.