The Bruins remained on a roll Saturday afternoon, winning for a sixth consecutive time, an efficient 4-2 trimming of the Arizona Coyotes at the Garden highlighted by an efficient power play (2 for 4), a couple of Charlie Coyle goals (Nos. 11, 12), and Tuukka Rask’s continued sure-handed work in goal (29 saves).
They also maintained their trip atop the league standings with one hand tied behind their blue line, after losing Jeremy Lauzon to a match penalty at the end of the first when the rookie defenseman was pitched out of the game for delivering an illegal check to the head of veteran forward Derek Stepan.
Lauzon’s status for Sunday’s matinee (12:30) in Detroit remains questionable, pending review by the league’s Department of Player Safety for a possible suspension. The Bruins also lost another blue liner, John Moore, to an undisclosed injury at the end of the period.
All of which means a spare backliner could be summoned from AHL Providence to fill out the backline Sunday at Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit.
“That’s a bit of a concern, obviously, depending on what happens to Lauzon,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, referring to Moore’s lower-body injury, the extent of which was unknown as the club raced to its charter flight. “We’ll have to get on the blower here with Providence — I think they’re in Bridgeport. So whoever’s coming, they’ll be traveling. Hopefully they’re excited to be in Detroit playing and not back home against Bridgeport.”
The Bruins already were without defenseman Brandon Carlo, who requested a one-game leave of absence to tend to a family matter in Colorado. He is expected back for the game in Detroit.
Win No. 34 for the Bruins, and their 80th point of the season, was rooted in a pair of quick-strike power-play goals in the middle period, the first by Patrice Bergeron and the second by Jake DeBrusk.
The two goals, only 2:29 apart, each came only seconds into their respective advantages, and each time it was the first shot on 6-foot-6-inch Coyotes goalie Adin Hill that went into the net.
Two shots, over a cumulative 29 seconds, and two goals. Tidy work.
On each goal, David Pastrnak, now without a goal of his own in five of his last six games, made the primary shot. On Bergeron’s goal, at 12:06 of the second, Pastrnak let go a half-slap from the left wing circle that Bergeron tipped home. For DeBrusk, Pastrnak snapped a wrister from low in the same circle, and it was DeBrusk’s deflection that finally ping-ponged in off of the towering Hill. Bruins, 3-1.
“When they get in the lane, then he has to look for Bergy’s stick in the high slot,” explained Cassidy, asked if Pastrnak’s shot selection signaled a change in his approach, which normally has him looking to fire big slappers. “Where’s the other [defenseman], is he out with Bergy or is he staying in front with [DeBrusk]? So there’s a bit of a quick decision: shot? Or shot-tip to Bergy . . . or am I going back post to [DeBrusk]? So he has to make the right call.”
The hardest call of the afternoon was by the officiating crew, led by referees Chris Schlenker and Brad Meier, that tossed Lauzon for the hit on Stepan.
Racing out of the penalty box, Lauzon missed on a scoring chance at Hill, then tracked the puck toward the wall, meeting up there with Stepan on right wing. Lauzon appeared to graze Stepan slightly under the chin, then made firmer contact with his right shoulder. Not a particularly menacing hit, but the guys in stripes deemed it an illegal check to the head. Stepan appeared dazed but did not miss any action.
“When I have the opportunity to finish a check, I finish it,” said Lauzon, 22, playing in only his 23rd NHL game. “I haven’t seen the [replay].”
Asked if he was surprised to be tagged with the match penalty (and a 5:00 power play for the Coyotes) Lauzon added, “It’s not my place to say anything about the refs’ calls . . . I didn’t really know what was happening at the time. Like I said, I went there, my shot was off net, and I tried to finish the check.”
The Coyotes connected once, for a 1-0 lead, on the major advantage, with ex-Bruin Phil Kessel cashing in from the doorstep after a Zdeno Chara clearing attempt went directly to his stick.
Charlie Coyle’s first of two goals, only four seconds after a Boston power play expired, pulled the Bruins even at 1-1 only 6:50 into the second.
In the third, after the Bergeron-DeBrusk goals provided the 3-1 lead, Jakob Chychrun pulled the Coyotes to within one with a laser from the left wing circle. Coyle then closed it out with a long-bomb empty-netter at 19:11.
As the lights dimmed on Causeway Street, the Bruins were still in first place in the league standings at 34-10-12, with their Garden record improved to 19-2-9. The Bruins, with 26 games remaining and two months to go before the playoffs start, look rested, comfortable, and in control, outscoring the opposition, 17-5, since returning from the bye break.