BOSTON — The Bruins are a long way from perfect and, with the absences they’re currently dealing with, they won’t be attaining it any time soon.
But their moxie was vastly improved from Thursday’s loss to the Sabres and that helped them survive a good, young Arizona Coyotes team and leave TD Garden with a 5-3 win on Saturday. Linus Ullmark made 31 saves to get the B’s back in the win column and David Pastrnak had a three-point performance (2-1-3).
The B’s took an early 3-0 lead, but the knuckles were indeed pale for much of the matinee with two regular defensemen already out and Pavel Zacha (upper body) joining them on the sidelines after the first period.
If you’re experiencing a building angst about your Bruins, this game did not do much to dissipate it. But like they do on most nights, they found a way to win, improving their record to 18-5-3.
“I love the effort. I thought our second and third effort was really good. I thought we had some great blocks. Obviously, Linus was fantastic and he needed to be. We gave up too much. And (Pastrnak) was fantastic,” said coach Jim Montgomery, who didn’t have an update or prognosis on Zacha. “We were white-knuckling on the bench a lot. But if you have the second and third effort, you find ways to have success. It’s amazing what effort overcomes.”
The B’s also got yeoman’s work on the penalty kill out of Brandon Carlo, who skated 7:19 in the B’s 5-for-5 PK night. On top of scoring a goal, Charlie Coyle won 17 of 22 draws and led the team with three blocks. It was that kind of game in which any little bit helps.
The B’s took a 4-2 lead into the third period, but the Coyotes outmuscled the B’s to get within a goal just 3:20 into the third. First Nick Bjugstad shook off a Johnny Beecher check along the boards and got it to Matias Maccelli in the middle of the ice. He got it over to Lawson Crouse, who had Hampus Lindholm on top of him, but still managed to snap off a shot that beat Ullmark.
That made the proceedings tense, especially after the B’s had to kill a couple of penalties.
But the B’s pushed it to 5-3 with 5:31 left in regulation. Jake DeBrusk flipped it into the offensive zone and Morgan Geekie fought off two Coyotes to backhand he puck into the slot. It took a couple bounces before Pastrnak jammed it home for his second of the game.
“I was trying to make a direct play to him, but I think it went off the D’s skate and the (goalie’s) pad and Pasta made a great play,” Geekie said.
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