Craig Smith scored a pair of goals and Charlie Coyle scored the game-winning goal as the Boston Bruins beat the Arizona Coyotes, 3-2, Saturday night at TD Garden.
Boston snapped Arizona’s four-game winning streak in the process and extended the league’s longest active consecutive win streak against an opponent to 18 games as the Bruins haven’t lost to the Coyotes since Oct. 9, 2010.
Back then, Arizona was known as the Phoenix Coyotes in a, 5-2, blowout in the 2010-11 regular season opener in Prague, Czech Republic.
Boston, meanwhile, has won eight-straight games against Arizona at TD Garden as part of the second-longest consecutive win streak against an opponent in National Hockey League history.
Only the Montréal Canadiens had a longer win streak against an opponent– winning 23 games against the Washington Capitals from 1974-78.
Back at TD Garden Saturday night, Jeremy Swayman (17-7-3, 2.06 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in 28 games played) made 27 saves on 29 shots against in the win for the Bruins.
Coyotes goaltender, Karel Vejmelka (9-22-1, 3.37 goals-against average, .905 save percentage in 34 games played), stopped 37 out of 40 shots faced in the loss.
Boston improved to 36-18-5 (77 points) overall with the win and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Arizona, on the other hand, fell to 18-36-4 (40 points) on the season and stuck in 8th place in the Central Division.
The B’s swept their regular season series against the Yotes 2-0-0 and will not face them again until the 2022-23 regular season.
The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Urho Vaakanainen (undisclosed) on Saturday, while Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup after missing his seventh game due to injury/illness this season in Thursday night’s, 4-3, win against Chicago.
Grzelcyk returned to his usual role on the second defensive pairing alongside Brandon Carlo, while B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy made no other changes to his lineup.
Jesper Frödén was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Friday, while Jack Ahcan joined Anton Blidh in the press box at TD Garden Saturday night as Boston’s pair of healthy scratches.
Smith (12) got things going with a goal off of a rebound on an initial shot by Tomáš Nosek while crashing the net to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 2:33 of the first period.
Nosek (10) and Nick Foligno (9) tallied the assists on Smith’s first goal of the game.
Less than a minute later, J.J. Moser slashed David Pastrnak and presented Boston with the night’s first power play at 3:25.
The B’s couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing skater advantage, however, and proceeded to give the Coyotes the next power play when Patrice Bergeron inadvertently sent the puck over the glass for an automatic delay of game minor infraction at 6:48 of the first period.
Arizona wasn’t able to convert on the resulting power play, however.
Midway through the opening frame, Coyle shielded the puck as he entered the zone and passed it back to Smith.
Smith (13) sent a shot attempt off of a leg in the slot and gathered his own rebound before burying the rubber biscuit in the twine for his second goal of the game– giving the Bruins a, 2-0, lead at 10:49.
Coyle (18) and Trent Frederic (7) notched the assists on the goal as Smith collected his 13th point (seven goals, six assists) in as many games.
Entering the first intermission, Boston led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 14-11, in shots on goal.
The B’s also held the advantage in takeaways (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while the Coyotes led in blocked shots (3-2), giveaways (3-2) and hits (11-8).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
Frederic tripped up Jakob Chychrun and presented another power play to the Coyotes at 6:30 of the second period as a result.
The Yotes were not successful on the ensuing skater advantage, though.
In the dying seconds of the middle period, Dysin Mayo worked a pass through the slot to Clayton Keller (25) for a one-timer goal on the far blocker side as Swayman’s reaction time was reduced.
Mayo (7) and Nick Schmaltz (23) had the assists on Keller’s goal and Arizona cut Boston’s lead in half– trailing, 2-1, as a result at 19:59 of the second period.
Oh yeah, that’s anther thing– Keller’s one-timer just crossed the line with about 0.5 seconds left on the clock before the second intermission commenced.
Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins held a, 2-1, lead on the scoreboard, as well as a, 26-22, advantage in shots on goal.
Boston outshot Arizona, 12-11, in the second period alone and maintained an advantage in takeaways (10-7), giveaways (7-6) and hits (17-15) entering the second intermission.
The Coyotes led in blocked shots (11-3), while both teams split faceoff win%, 50-50.
Arizona was 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame, while the Bruins were still 0/1 on the skater advantage.
Shortly after the third period began, the Coyotes tweeted that Chychrun would not return to the night’s action with a lower body injury.
A couple minutes later, Nick Ritchie (6) scored against his former team as he happened to be in the right place at the right time to collect the garbage on a rebound in the slot and pocket a shot down low while Swayman was catching up with the play.
Barrett Hayton (10) and Matias Maccelli (3) had the assists as the Coyotes tied the game, 2-2, at 2:15 of the third period– fully swinging momentum to their favor as Arizona had picked up their dominance in possession from the second period to the final frame.
Midway through the third, however, Frederic cleared a puck out of his own zone around the glass up to Coyle as No. 13 in black and gold broke into the neutral zone.
Coyle (14) trucked his way to the other end of the ice before elevating a backhand shot past Vejmelka’s glove side to put the Bruins ahead once again– this time for good, 3-2.
Frederic (8) and Charlie McAvoy (30) had the assists on Coyle’s goal at 10:39 and Boston kept their nose to the grind for the rest of the night.
With about 50.7 seconds remaining in the action, Arizona’s head coach, André Tourigny, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.
Despite one last push, the Coyotes could not penetrate Boston’s defense in the dying seconds as the final horn sounded.
The Bruins had emerged victorious, 3-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 40-29, including a, 14-7, advantage in the third period alone.
Boston also left their own ice leading in blocked shots (14-9), giveaways (10-8), hits (26-24) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Arizona left without any points in the standings.
The Coyotes exited TD Garden 0/2 on the power play, while the B’s went 0/1.
Boston improved to 9-1-1 in their last 11 games, while Swayman improved to 9-0-1 in his last 10 games.
Arizona’s longest winning streak of the season came to an end at four games as the Bruins put together back-t0-back wins Thursday and Saturday after their, 3-2, overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.
The B’s improved to 26-7-2 (12-4-1 at home) when scoring first, 22-2-1 (10-1-0 at home) when leading after one and 25-1-3 (10-1-1 at home) when leading after two periods this season.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, fell to 7-26-2 (3-11-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-19-1 (2-7-1 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 4-27-1 (2-11-1 on the road) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.
Boston hits the road for the next four games with stops in Chicago next Tuesday (March 15th), Minnesota next Wednesday (March 16th), Winnipeg next Friday (March 18th) and Montréal on March 21st.
The Bruins return home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 24th.