The Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins weren’t at their sharpest level following the Christmas break, but they had just enough to edge the host Phoenix Coyotes.
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg scored 58 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 2-1 win over the Coyotes on Wednesday night. It was Boston’s first win after regulation that wasn’t settled in a shootout.
”I was just trying to get the puck past the forwards and to the net,” said Seidenberg, who scored his second goal of the season. ”You want to make sure the puck gets close to the net, and I think it hit off of one of their players in front.”
Seidenberg’s shot from the middle of the rink at the blue line, deflected off the stick of Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris and found its way between the pads of goalie Jason LaBarbera.
The Bruins have won 11 of 13 games and 21 of 24 to move back on top of the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the New York Rangers. Phoenix is 0-2-1 in its last three home games and has won only three of 10.
The loss was particularly frustrating for the Coyotes, who were without forwards Martin Hanzal and Boyd Gordon, defenseman Adrian Aucoin, and goalie Mike Smith.
”We did many good things against a very good hockey team,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. ”It was unfortunate we didn’t get the two points. I like the energy of our team. Overall, this was a very competitive game.”
David Krejci gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead 47 seconds into the game on the team’s first shot. Ray Whitney tied it with 4:44 left in the first period.
Krejci struck first with a quick wrist shot from the blue line that beat LaBarbera to the stick side.
The quick start enabled the Bruins to dictate play and help goalie Tuukka Rask settle in. The 24-year-old netminder stopped 21 of 22 shots, but faced none in overtime.
”When there are not many shots, you have to find ways to stay sharp,” Rask said. ”It becomes a mental thing, but, in the end, good teams find ways to win.”
The Bruins showed off a tight-checking game. Always around the puck, they limited the Coyotes to few good scoring opportunities, but Whitney connected.
Taking a pass from Daymond Langkow, Whitney, crashing down the slot, split defensemen Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk and beat Rask to the glove side to tie it. The goal was Whitney’s third in three games. Langkow earned just his third point in 16 games.
Outshooting the Bruins 8-7 in the middle season, the Coyotes had two opportunities to break the deadlock.
During a power play, Keith Yandle set up Whitney across the blue line. Whitney got behind the defense but couldn’t get in position for a good shot.
Late in the period, defenseman David Schlemko’s drive from the right circle was stopped by Rask’s pads.
LaBarbera stopped 15 of 16 shots through two periods.
With three losses since Nov. 1, the Bruins continue to be a dominate team.
”We take pride in our defensive game without the puck,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. ”Confidence grows with each game, and we believe 99 percent of the time, we will get great goaltending. However, we know there will be challenges ahead, so we have to guard against overconfidence.”
NOTES: The Coyotes had their second sellout in 19 home games, a standing-room only crowd of 17,459. … This was the first meeting between the teams since they met in Prague to open last season. Only 13 Coyotes remain on the roster from that two-game set. … Julien coached in his 600th NHL game.