GLENDALE, Ariz. — The way things are going for the Bruins these days, this was the sort of thing that should have been expected. After trailing for the first time in seven games, after getting the tying goal in the third period by one of the best goal scorers in NHL history, it was their enforcer who provided the winning margin.
With 3:18 left in the third period, Daniel Paille put a shot on net, with Shawn Thornton tipping it past Mike Smith to give the Bruins their final lead in a 4-2 win at Jobing.com Arena. It was Thornton’s fifth goal of the season, and first since Jan. 28.
“I’m glad it went in,” Thornton said. “Man, our line had a lot of chances tonight. It was a little bit frustrating for us until then. I mean we were creating a lot of stuff, but nothing was going in. I’m happy we got rewarded for some hard work eventually.”
Jarome Iginla scored his second goal of the night, an empty-netter at 19:28, for the final margin. It was Iginla’s eighth goal in the last six games.
The win was the Bruins’ 12th straight, and gave them points in each of their last 14 road games. They have gone 11-0-3 since their last regulation road loss on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles.
“Probably credit goes to the fact that we had four lines going tonight,” coach Claude Julien said. “We were capable of using our whole bench. That fourth line was creating some chances before it even scored.
“I can’t say enough about being able to use all our bench. It’s been a trademark of ours, but also it’s been some of the reasons that we’ve been able to come out of these kind of games with wins.”
The Bruins spent more time trailing the Coyotes than they had trailed anyone in seven games. But they didn’t trail forever.
With 3:48 gone in the third period with the teams skating 4 on 4, the Bruins tied the game, 2-2. It came on a shot by Zdeno Chara that started it, deflecting off Iginla and past Smith.
“Every inch of you wants to move, but it’s probably better not to,” Iginla said, of the shot by Chara.
For Iginla, who has been on a tear of late, it was his 27th of the season, and the 557th of his career, passing Johnny Bucyk for sole possession of 25th on the all-time list.
“It just feels really good as a team,” Iginla said. “We go into each game, try to have the same approach. Whoever it is, we know that teams want to end it, too. We know how it is to be on the other side.
“The Coyotes are a good team, they’re in the hunt right now. You know how desperate they are. It’s been a lot of challenges and it’s felt good to find ways to win games. Tonight was a very tough game.”
It had been a long time since the Bruins were down on the scoreboard. But just 39 seconds into the second period, on a power play left over from the first period, Phoenix ended a streak that had lasted seven games, a span of 410:41.
Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson deked around Loui Eriksson and Johnny Boychuk, getting a clear path at Tuukka Rask (30 saves). While Rask made the save on the first attempt, the rebound kicked back to Ekman-Larsson, who gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead. The Bruins had killed 30 of the last 32 power play chances against them, all of them coming in the team’s 11-game winning streak.
The Bruins had some good opportunities in the period — they just weren’t able to convert. At one point, the Bruins kept the Coyotes hemmed in for nearly two minutes, a stretch in which both the first and third lines saw time. Though the Bruins weren’t able to convert, they were able to draw a hooking penalty on Antoine Vermette.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, the best chance on the power play might have been a shorthanded bid from Martin Hanzal that Iginla was able to cleanly break up before he could get a shot on net.
But that wasn’t how the night had started for the Bruins.
Just as he had the night before in Colorado and Tuesday night in New Jersey, Patrice Bergeron got the Bruins on the scoreboard first. His 22d goal of the season came as a result of a turnover created by Andrej Meszaros, who intercepted puck played by Smith. Meszaros turned the puck back on the Phoenix goalie, who made the save. But it went to Bergeron, who shot, then pushed the puck under and past Smith for the score at 3:25 of the first.
But unlike the night before in Colorado, the Bruins weren’t able to hold off the Coyotes in the first. It had been 10 games since the Bruins had allowed a first-period goal, and that streak ended at 11:45 of the period. Rask left a rebound, which Shane Doan was able to lift up and past the goaltender. The last time the Bruins had allowed a goal in the opening period was back on March 2 against the Rangers.
The Coyotes almost scored another with 4:39 left in the first, with Rask’s blocker — on a diving save — the only thing between the puck and the goal line in a scramble in front of the net. But it wasn’t all good, with David Krejci going off for holding on the sequence. Still, the Bruins were able to kill yet another power-play chance.
The Coyotes certainly had their opportunities. One night after Colorado had 14 shots on goal in the first period, Phoenix had 15, with the Bruins getting seven.
“We don’t want any easy games,” Julien said. “We want to get better as a team, and those kind of games allow you to do that. Because tonight, in my mind, it showed a lot of our character. We needed to show a lot of character there in the third to come back and win that and we did. We did all the right things. We were determined to win and it showed.”