Boston Bruins extend winning streak with gritty effort

Looking at the schedule for the Boston Bruins in the month of March the first thing that jumped off of the page was the number of back-to-back games the team would have to play, six.  After playing five of those six back-to-back games, the Bruins are 5-0.  The latest of these victories came against a Phoenix Coyotes team clinging to the last wild card spot in the Western Conference.  It was Boston’s most impressive win during what is now a 12-game winning streak because of the circumstances surrounding the game.

The Bruins had played the night before against a very fast and athletic team that likes to push the pace in the Colorado Avalanche.  The Coyotes were just two points in front of the Dallas Stars for the last playoff spot in the West and they were 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.

After taking an early first period lead thanks to a Patrice Bergeron goal, the Coyotes took advantage of a tired Bruins team and scored two unanswered goals.  Through 35 minutes of the game it was clear Boston was feeling the effects of playing two games in two nights.  Their winning streak was in serious jeopardy of being snapped as Phoenix had the clear advantage in zone time.

The momentum finally changed in the Bruins favor late in the second period thanks to their first line, which has been their most consistent all season.  David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Jarome Iginla spent an entire shift in the offensive zone, winning puck battles along the boards and outworking their opponent to get to loose pucks.  After over a minute of attacking zone time, Phoenix was finally able to clear the zone.  Although they were not able to score, the Bruins first line had given their team momentum going into the third period.

Three minutes into the third, skating 4-on-4, Zdeno Chara unleashed one of his patented slap shots that deflected off Iginla and past goalie Mike Smith.  After the tying goal, Boston continued their dominance in the period and eventually took the lead with a goal from Shawn Thornton.  An empty-netter by Iginla with 32 seconds left iced the game for the Bruins.

In a game that took every last bit of their energy to come from behind and win, the Bruins proved they are among the best the NHL has to offer.  The eventual winning goal scored by the fourth line reinforces the point that Boston has four lines they can count on to produce for them in a game, something not many teams have.   It is that depth that has allowed Boston to spread out the minutes during this tough schedule in March.

The Bruins will be back in Boston to face the Montreal Canadiens for the second time in two weeks tonight at 7:30 PM ET.  If they are able to win that game, they will tie the 1970-71 Bruins team that won 13 straight games.