BOSTON – The Coyotes entered Thursday night’s game at the TD Northbank Garden with a half dozen newly-acquired players on the roster. They left the building with an impressive 2-1 victory over the best team in Eastern Conference.
“There were a lot of new faces in the dressing room today that got in late last night and I thought we all did a great job of all coming together in a short time and putting together 60 minutes,” newcomer Scottie Upshall said.
Upshall scored Phoenix's first goal and Nigel Dawes, also among the new players, assisted on Steven Reinprecht’s game-winning goal to lift Phoenix to a much-needed victory in the first of five straight games on the road.
Upshall, acquired from Philadelphia on Wednesday, quickly scored his first goal with Phoenix, and his power-play tally pulled the Coyotes into a 1-1 tie at the 12:01 mark of the first period.
That team across the ice is a good squad. This is a big win for us.”- Scottie Upshall
After being outshot 9-6 in the first period, the Coyotes dictated flow in the middle period and took a 2-1 lead. Dawes set up the decisive goal by taking control of a Blake Wheeler turnover in the neutral zone, skating into the Boston zone wide to his left, and then sliding a cross-slot pass to Reinprecht, who tapped the puck past Bruins goalie Tim Thomas at 7:52.
“I think the whole team kept it pretty simple,” Reinprecht said. “We just moved our feet and tried to not over-complicate things, and get it out and take advantage of our chances.”
Newcomers Matthew Lombardi (left) and Petr Prucha played on the same line on Thursday.
Bryzgalov kept the Coyotes ahead by making some key saves late in the second period. Boston’s Phil Kessel had a terrific scoring chance from between the circles with 2:29 left, but Bryzgalov blocked the puck with his left pad.
The Bruins cranked up the offensive pressure in the third period, but the Coyotes did not give up the lead as Bryzgalov stopped all 11 shots he faced, including a tip-in attempt by Michael Ryder with 3:05 left.
Boston played the last 98 seconds with an extra attacker after Coyotes rookie Viktor Tikhonov was called for elbowing Bruins defenseman Steve Montador. Coyotes defensemen Kurt Sauer and Zbynek Michalek helped preserve the victory by blocking shots in the final minute.
Like Upshall and Dawes, forwards Petr Prucha and Matthew Lombardi, and defenseman Dmitri Kalinin also debuted for the Coyotes after being acquired in trades on Wednesday. Head Coach Wayne Gretzky liked what he saw from his revamped team.
“I thought our energy level was solid,” Gretzky said. “There were times where we got a little bit on our heels, (but) part of that has to do with being a new group of guys here and part of that has to do with they (the Bruins) are such a good hockey club. But all and all, I really liked our effort and the way the guys came to compete…I think, as a group, they really wanted to win this game badly.”
The Bruins (42-14-9) took a 1-0 lead when Chuck Kobasew scored his 15th goal of the season between Bryzgalov's pads at the 7:09 mark of the first period. But that was the only bright spot for Boston, which has lost three straight games at home and is slowing falling back to the pack in the Eastern Conference standings.
“I can give you all the excuses, but there shouldn't be any," Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters after the loss. "If we are spending too much time looking at the standings, we aren't going to be able to get out of this."
• Upshall, who was voted the game’s No. 1 star, played against the Bruins on Tuesday night for Philadelphia and scored a goal in that game, too.
• Coyotes rookie Kyle Turris played his first game since being recalled from the American Hockey League on Monday. Turris played 12:43, took two shots on goal, and won five of eight faceoffs.
• The Coyotes are 20-1-1 when leading after two periods.
• Boston's lead in the Eastern Conference standings is down to six points over the New Jersey Devils.
• Defenseman David Hale, and forwards Brandon Prust, Enver Lisin, Todd Fedoruk and Daniel Winnik were Phoenix’s scratches. Boston scratched defensemen Shane Hnidy and Matt Hunwick, and forward Byron Bitz.