“He certainly played well enough today,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It was a lot of work. A heavy shot-load the other night in Colorado, I’ll have to check to see how he is [Saturday], but his game was excellent tonight. Finding pucks, tracking pucks, a lot of traffic, recovering, playing inside the posts, I thought he did a real good job.”
Erik Haula scored in the first period for his fifth of the season on a beautiful assist from David Pastrnak. But Boston’s lead was short-lived as Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz knotted the score at 1-1 less than six minutes later.
A Shayne Gostisbehere tripping penalty in the second period put Boston on the man advantage. Charlie McAvoy zipped home his seventh of the year about 90 seconds later for the go-ahead tally.
While only registering six shots in the final 20 minutes, Arizona pressured Ullmark in the final minutes of regulation. Former Boston University standout Clayton Keller had the best chance to tie things up but sent a rebound shot over the open net. Keller assisted on Schmaltz’s strike and recorded five shots while Phil Kessel led all Coyotes with six shots on goal.
A pair of assists extended Pastrnak’s point streak to eight games while McAvoy paced all Bruins skaters in time-on-ice with 25:02.
Here’s what we learned following Boston’s ugly win over the ‘Yotes.
Rask sidelined with lower-body injury
Before the puck even dropped on Friday’s game, the Bruins announced that Tuukka Rask was scratched and taxi squad goalie Troy Grosenick would serve as the team’s backup. In Providence, Jeremy Swayman was pulled from his expected start against the Hartford Wolf Pack, leaving many questions surrounding Rask’s status.
After the victory in Arizona, Cassidy revealed Rask is dealing with a lower-body injury and is unsure when the Bruins’ all-time wins leader will see the ice again.
“He came out of his last start, felt a little something, but we thought he would be fine for the trip, that’s what he indicated to us, but I guess not as much a few days later,” Cassidy said. “It didn’t come around as much as he would like, so that’s the situation there.”
Cassidy hasn’t ruled Rask out for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Stars to close out the three-game trip, but if he can’t go, they will look to add Swayman into the mix.
The Bruins encountered issues exiting the defefnding end
The Bruins had a rough time with zone exits as the Coyotes limited their time and space.
During the second period, in particular, the Bruins struggled clearing pucks and relieving pressure as the Coyotes held a 14-12 shot advantage during that 20-minute timeframe.
Arizona’s first goal began following a poor clearing attempt as Keller kept the puck in the attacking zone. Schmaltz then won a puck battle in the far corner before eventually getting the puck back and whipping it into the cage for the equalizer.
The Bruins also finished with more giveaways (16-12). But Ullmark’s sharp play, combined with McAvoy’s power-play marker, became the difference makers in a game that was likely closer than the B’s would’ve preferred.
“I thought we did have some sustained pressure in the O-zone,” Haula said. “We weren’t necessarily quite as hard as we’d like to be in the first period. I think we got better as the game went on, and ultimately we did enough to get the two points.”
Ullmark continues to showcase his worth
For the second consecutive outing, Ullmark did all that the Bruins asked of him.
Up against one of the league’s best in the Avalanche earlier in the week, Ullmark turned aside 37 shots before Boston fell in overtime. On Friday, the first-year Bruins goalie only had one mistake against a lowly Coyotes team looking to prove themselves.
Given the uncertainty around Rask’s return, having a stable presence in net remains critical for this Bruins team looking to remain in the playoff picture. It’s exactly why the Bruins brought Ullmark aboard in the off-season.
“I’m happy every time I get the opportunity to go in there and play with the boys,” Ullmark said.
Ullmark hasn’t lost in regulation since Dec. 16 against the New York Islanders. Since then, the 6-foot-4, 208-pounder has picked up eight wins and allowed more than three goals in a game just once.
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