Charlie McAvoy’s power-play goal in the second period was enough to ensure the Boston Bruins of a, 2-1, victory over the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena Friday night.
Boston has won 17 consecutive regular season matchups against Arizona since losing, 5-2, to the then-Phoenix Coyotes on Oct. 9, 2010, in the 2010-11 season opener in Prague, Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, back at Gila River Arena on Friday, Linus Ullmark (15-5-1, 2.54 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 22 games played) made 30 saves on 31 shots faced for a .968 save percentage in the win for the B’s.
Coyotes goaltender, Scott Wedgewood (4-9-2, 3.32 goals-against average, .899 save percentage in 17 games played), turned aside 35 out of 37 shots faced in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 25-13-3 (53 points) on the season at the halfway point of the 2021-22 82-game calendar and sit 4th in the Atlantic Division. Boston remains in command of the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.
Arizona, meanwhile, fell to 10-28-4 (24 points) overall and remain dead last (8th place) in the Pacific Division– one point ahead of the Montréal Canadiens (23 points, 32nd) in the overall league standings.
With the uncertainty surrounding next season’s home for the Coyotes, one thing is for sure– that Boston will have gone 10-1-0 in 11 games at Gila River Arena in its lifetime as Arizona’s home ice from 2003-22.
A report just this week was hailed as a temporary plan for Arizona to play their home games in the same barn as the Arizona State University Sun Devils’ men’s ice hockey team beginning in 2022-23 for three to four years while the National Hockey League club seeks to build a new arena in Tempe.
Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with an upper body injury.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, placed Grzelcyk in his usual role on the first defensive pairing with McAvoy– demoting Urho Vaakanainen to the third pairing alongside Derek Forbort in the process, while scratching Connor Clifton as a result.
Boston was without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Trent Frederic (upper body), Nick Foligno (upper body) and Tuukka Rask (day-to-day, undisclosed) on Friday.
With Rask out of the lineup, Troy Grosenick was recalled from the taxi squad and served as Ullmark’s backup against the Coyotes.
Steven Fogarty, Jesper Frödén and Tyler Lewington joined Clifton in the press box as Boston’s group of taxi squad members and healthy scratches in Arizona.
Jakob Chychrun closed his hand on the puck while trying to settle it and received a minor infraction for closing his hand on the puck (imagine that!?!) as a result– yielding the first power play of the night to the Bruins at 1:30 of the first period.
Boston couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.
Midway through the opening frame, the Bruins controlled the puck in the attacking zone– working it from Forbort to David Pastrnak as No. 88 in black and gold crashed the net.
Instead of shooting, Pastrnak sent a backhand pass to Erik Haula (5) for a one-timer goal to give the B’s a, 1-0, lead at 12:30 of the first period.
Pastrnak (19) and Forbort (5) tallied the assists on Haula’s 99th career National Hockey League goal.
Late in the period, Shayne Gostisbehere faked a shot from the point and passed the puck to Nick Schmaltz (5) for a catch and release goal on the short side as the Coyotes answered back and tied the game, 1-1, in the process.
Gostisbehere (20) and Clayton Kellyer (18) notched the assists on Schmaltz’s goal at 18:04.
Heading into the first intermission, Boston and Arizona were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, despite the Bruins holding a, 9-8, advantage in shots on goal.
The B’s also led in blocked shots (4-2) and faceoff win percentage (56-44), while the Coyotes led in takeaways (4-0), giveaways (7-6) and hits (13-11).
Boston was 0/1 on the power play, while Arizona had yet to see any time on the skater advantage.
Midway through the middle frame, Gostisbehere tripped up Patrice Bergeron and presented the Bruins with their second power play of the night at 12:05 of the second period.
A little more than a minute into the ensuing advantage, Brad Marchand sent the puck along the blue line to McAvoy as McAvoy (7) corralled the rubber biscuit and proceeded to snap a shot past Wedgewood’s blocker side for a power-play goal.
Marchand (26) and Pastrnak (20) had the assists on the goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 2-1, at 13:41 of the second period.
Mike Reilly checked Lawson Crouse away from the puck 19 seconds later and presented Arizona with their first power play of the night at 14:00 of the second period.
The Coyotes were not successful on the skater advantage, however.
Shortly after Boston made the kill, Anton Blidh took a stick to the face and drew blood.
At first glance, Schmaltz appeared to be the offender, which would’ve given the Bruins a four-minute power play as a result of Blidh bleeding his own blood, but upon official review McAvoy inadvertently caught his own teammate in the face.
As such, no penalty was assessed on the play and Blidh returned to the night’s action after getting patched up a bit.
Once again, late in the period, Boston sent a skater to the box only this time it was for goaltender interference as Curtis Lazar made no attempt to stop on a rush at 19:33.
Arizona’s resulting power play would extend into the third period.
Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 2-1, on the scoreboard despite trailing, 22-21, in shots on goal.
The Coyotes held a, 14-12, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone and led in takeaways (6-3), as well as hits (20-17).
Meanwhile, Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (7-4), giveaways (14-10) and faceoff win% (56-44).
Arizona was 0/2 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/2 heading into the final frame.
Neither team managed to score a goal in the third period, but each team had at least one more penalty in them as Antoine Roussel got his gloves off and tried to engage McAvoy for some reason– only to end up with a double minor for roughing, while McAvoy ended up with a single infraction for roughing despite not getting to defend himself.
Regardless, Ryan Dzingel served time in the box for Roussel’s minor at 2:14 and the Bruins went on the power play early in the third period.
Boston did not convert on the skater advantage and had another chance at doing so go by the wayside when Crouse tripped Marchand at 4:29.
Instead, Arizona ended up with one more chance power play in the night’s action as Bergeron caught Chychrun with a high stick at 6:04 of the third period.
The Coyotes couldn’t muster anything past Ullmark, however, despite 26 seconds of 4-on-4 action and an abbreviated power play thereafter.
With about 2:29 remaining in the game, Arizona’s head coach, André Tourigny, pulled Wedgewood for an extra attacker, but the Coyotes couldn’t seem to hit the net at the most opportune moments in the dying seconds of the game– even after the Yotes took a timeout with 1:41 remaining and Boston used their timeout with 34.8 seconds left.
At the final horn the Bruins had won, 2-1, and emerged victorious in the desert.
Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 37-31, including a, 16-9, advantage in the third period alone, while also maintaining dominance in giveaways (16-12) and faceoff win% (59-41).
Arizona left their own ice leading in blocked shots (10-9) and hits (28-22).
The Coyotes went 0/3 and the Bruins went 1/4 on the power play Friday night.
The B’s improved to 16-5-0 (8-2-0 on the road) when scoring first, 5-5-1 (3-2-1 on the road) when tied after one period and 17-1-1 (11-0-1 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.
Arizona, meanwhile, fell to 4-20-2 (2-11-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-10-2 (0-4-1 at home) when tied after the first period and 3-22-1 (2-13-0 at home) when trailing after two periods in 2021-22.
The Bruins (1-0-1) wrap up their three-game road trip Sunday night at American Airlines Center against the Dallas Stars to finish off the month of January. Boston returns home to host the Seattle Kraken in their first-ever matchup on Feb. 1st.
After facing Seattle, the Bruins begin their All Star break.
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