Bruins surge back to first in East with seventh straight victory

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) saves a shot by Phoenix Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (19) during the second period at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston Thursday night.
Greg M. Cooper | USA Today Sports
Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) saves a shot by Phoenix Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (19) during the second period at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston Thursday night.
Posted March 13, 2014, at 9:57 p.m.

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins won their seventh straight game and moved back into first place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.

Defenseman Zdeno Chara scored his 16th goal of the season and right winger Jarome Iginla connected on his 21st, both in the first period, for the Bruins.

Coyotes winger Lauri Korpikoski scored a deflection goal with 11:46 remaining, his ninth of the season, to break up Boston goaltender Tuuka Rask’s shutout bid. Rask stopped 21 shots for his fifth straight win.

The Bruins (44-17-5) were a perfect 5-of-5 on the penalty kill, including a first-period double minor and have killed all 16 they faced in the last six games.

With the loss, the Coyotes finished 2-2 on a four-game eastern swing. Phoenix (31-25-11) won four of its last six.

Goaltender Mike Smith made 18 saves in the Phoenix goal.

Bruins winger Loui Eriksson forced defenseman Keith Yandle to cough the puck up, leading to the Chara goal 5:54 into the game. Chara walked in from the point and beat Smith with a well-place wrist shot.

The Bruins killed a four-minute power play and took a 2-0 lead later in the period. Soon after Rask, with a little help from defenseman Dougie Hamilton, kept a rebound from bouncing over the goal line, defenseman Johnny Boychuk took a shot from the right point that was tipped in by Iginla for his fourth goal in the last seven games.

The win was the Bruins first at home against the Coyotes since 2002. It also gave them a sweep of their latest back-to-back — they’re 9-2-1 on the front end, 10-2 on the back end.

The victory was the 300th for coach Claude Julien behind the Bruins bench.

NOTES: The Bruins announced their 200th straight sellout, counting playoffs. … Bruins LW Daniel Paille missed his second straight game with his second concussion of the season. … The Coyotes were missing new acquisition RW Martin Erat, also out after a hit to the head. … Boston D Andrej Meszaros played his first home game with his new team, with rookie D Torey Krug a healthy scratch. … Phoenix RW Shane Doan played in his 1,300 NHL game, fourth-most among active players. … The Coyotes return home to face the Calgary Flames on Saturday, while the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bruins the same day. … This was Phoenix’s first visit to Boston in five years and the Coyotes were 3-0-0-1 since their last Boston loss in 2002. … Both the Coyotes and Bruins swept a Florida trip with two wins in the last week. … Phoenix D Keith Yandle, a Boston native, played for only the second time as a pro in his hometown. … These teams meet again March 22 in Glendale, Ariz.

Hurricanes 4, Sabres 2

RALEIGH, N.C. — Forwards Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty scored less than two minutes apart late in the third period to spoil a stellar goaltending effort by Buffalo’s Michal Neuvirth, and the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Sabres 4-2 Thursday night.

Neuvirth, acquired from the Washington Capitals at the trade deadline, stopped a career-best 51 shots. Buffalo’s defense was under siege all game from the Hurricanes, who are still holding out hope for a late playoff surge. Left wing Nathan Gerbe added an empty net goal with 0.4 seconds left to seal it for Carolina (29-28-9).

Buffalo (19-39-8) dropped its fourth consecutive game, its fifth losing streak of four or more games this season.

Right winger Drew Stafford scored his 13th — and third in the last four games — to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead at 8:43 of the third period. Prior to Thursday, Buffalo scored just two goals over a three-game stretch, both by Stafford.

The lead was short-lived, as Semin scored near the end of Carolina’s fifth power play of the night at 11:48, notching his 18th and extending his point streak to a season-best six games. It was just the Hurricanes’ second man-advantage goal in 38 tries over a 10-game span.

With 6:17 left, Tlusty banged the puck past Neuvirth for his 12th of the season and his third game-winner.

Before Thursday, Neuvirth was 3-0 in his career with a 1.53 goals against average in PNC Arena against the Hurricanes. He fell to 4-2-1 overall as the Capitals’ goalie.

Center Tyler Ennis scored his team-leading 17th goal and Buffalo’s first penalty shot of the season in three attempts when he beat Cam Ward on the blocker side at 10:22 of the first period. The penalty shot came after Tlusty was slashed on the hands during a breakaway attempt, and it gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead.

Hurricanes left winger Jeff Skinner, who had gone eight games without a goal, scored for the third time in four games three minutes after Ennis’ goal. Making a nifty move to get past defenseman Christian Ehrhoff in the corner, Skinner beat Neuvirth from a sharp angle for his team-leading 26th of the season.

The Sabres were outshot 22-4 in the second but still managed a 1-1 tie thanks in large part to Neuvirth, who stopped 34 of 35 shots through two periods.

 

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