BOSTON (AP) — With one month to go in the NHL's regular season, the Boston Bruins have taken over the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Tuukka Rask made 21 saves and the Bruins beat the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night for their seventh consecutive victory. The win gave Boston 93 points, one more than the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"I think we just want to get our game to the place we want to be at in the playoffs, and not worry about looking at the standings," Rask said. "But it's better to be on the top than the bottom."
Zdeno Chara and Jarome Iginla scored for Boston one night after a 4-1 victory over archrival Montreal. Rask made 35 saves in that one, but coach Claude Julien decided to start him on back-to-back nights because he didn't seem overly tired from the effort against the Canadiens.
"He can rest tomorrow because we don't play," Julien said, praising his players for not having a letdown after the game against their division rivals. "It's not so much the (winning) streak, it's the consistency. The consistency leads to that streak."
Mike Smith made 18 saves for the Coyotes. Despite heading to Boston with a two-game winning streak, Phoenix wrapped up its four-game trip with a 2-2 record to remain in ninth place in the West, one point behind the Dallas Stars.
"Obviously, we need more points than we got, and .500 is not what we're looking for," coach Dave Tippett said. "We've got to go home and regroup."
The Bruins scored twice in the first period, the first goal coming on Chara's wrist shot past Smith, who was screened by Boston forward Chris Kelly. It was the 16th goal of the season for the Bruins' captain — three short of his career high.