Boston Bruins

Mar 12, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) skates with the puck in front of Arizona Coyotes center Riley Nash (20) during the third period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of first-period goals from Craig Smith within an 8:16 stretch jumped the Bruins out to a 2-0 lead over the Coyotes, but it was a top-shelf, backhand marker from Charlie Coyle with 3:21 left in regulation that sealed the deal for the Bruins in a 3-2 final over the Coyotes at TD Garden on Saturday night.

With Coyle’s game winning goal, the Bruins captured their 18th straight victory over the Coyotes dating back to Oct. 2010 on Coyle’s tally. And that loss didn’t even come on American ice, as it was the season-opening head-to-head between the teams in Prague. It’s the longest winning streak over any one opponent in franchise history.

“I knew things have gone well for us against them,” Cassidy said of the B’s success. “Just like years ago, I think when I first got here, it was the Caps who we couldn’t beat, with [Braden] Holtby. We kind of corrected some of that over the years here. A team out West, you don’t see that often, [so] It’s a little odd, but I don’t know what to make of it, to be honest with you.”

“It’s all I had,” Coyle, who has tallied four goals and 12 points over his last 14 games, said of the backhand bid. “You kind of take what’s given and you make the most of it.”

With Coyotes netminder Karel Vejmelka absolutely tortured for 14 shots against in the opening frame — all of which seemed to come from the prime areas of the ice — both of Smith’s tallies came on what were second-chance opportunities for the white-hot scorer. And the second of Smith’s two strikes in the winning effort featured some of what’s made that Boston third so effective of late, as Coyle made puck-possession moves into the attacking zone, and ultimately drew three Coyote skaters towards him along the wall to open up a lane and feed a wide-open Smith streaking towards the Arizona cage.

But the Coyotes’ comeback push started with a true last-second goal that beat the Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman with 0.6 seconds left in the second period, and continued with a third-period rebound putaway from ex-Bruin wing Nick Ritchie.

“You stay positive about it,” Coyle said of the message on the bench following the blown lead. “It’s still a tied game at home and you gotta take care of business. It’s [about] not letting frustration creep in, and it’s about that next line up and having a great shift. We’ve learned that. And this team has always done that.”

In net, Swayman finished with 27 saves on 29 shots for his 17th victory of the season. The Coyotes’ Vejmelka, meanwhile, did everything he could to will Arizona to a win, but came up just short in a 37-of-40 performance at the other end of the rink.

Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk returned to the Boston lineup after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury and an illness. With Grzelcyk back, Jack Ahcan sat as a healthy scratch on the backend.

The Bruins will head back on the road for a four-game road trip that’ll feature stops in Chicago, Minnesota, Winnipeg, and Montreal, with the Mar. 21 trade deadline just hours before that head-to-head with the Canadiens.

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.