BOSTON – After putting only five shots on goal in the first period, the Boston Bruins took aim against Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo in the second and third.
Three of their shots got past Luongo and although only two of them counted for goals, that was more than enough offence for the Bruins to beat the slumping Canucks 3-1 on Tuesday night.
“The first period was a little bit of a tough period for us. I thought our puck management or how we move the puck around wasn’t great,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “It wasn’t really sharp, but it got better in the second and third period and that made a big difference.”
Boston led 1-0 after the first on Milan Lucic’s goal despite being outshot 9-5. Jarome Iginla and Daniel Paille added goals in the second period for the Bruins, and Tuukka Rask kept the Canucks from rallying with several saves on short-handed opportunities that could have invigorated Vancouver.
The biggest was stopping Daniel Sedin on a breakaway, which led to Iginla’s goal that put Boston up 2-0 with 12:01 left in the second period.
“It’s always good when they get a chance and you make a save and then your team scores right after that,” Rask said. “That was a good sign.”
Rask made 27 saves against the road-weary Canucks, who were coming off 2-0 loss in Detroit the night before and dropped their fifth straight.
Sedin and his twin brother, Henrik, extended their goal-scoring droughts to 17 games.
“Me and Danny have got to step up and score goals. That’s No. 1. That’s the difference right now,” said Henrik Sedin, who returned to the lineup Monday night after missing six games with an upper-body injury. “We’ve got to be the difference-makers and we’re not right now.”
Raphael Diaz scored the only goal for Vancouver, pulling the Canucks to 2-1 on a slap shot with 8:32 left in the second period.
Luongo stopped 29 shots for Vancouver and tried to take responsibility after the Canucks lost for the sixth time in seven games.
“I think this one’s 100 per cent on me. I wasn’t too good out there tonight,” he said.
Canucks coach John Tortorella, in his second game back from a 15-day suspension, thanked Luongo for the sentiment, but said Vancouver’s struggles go much deeper.
“I appreciate Louie saying that, but this is a team thing here that we’re going through and we’ll go through it together,” Tortorella said.
The Canucks kept it close until Paille scored on a breakaway late in the second period, then Boston controlled the final 20 minutes for its sixth win in seven games.
“We’ve been in a pretty good stretch. We’ve had a goal leading up until the Olympic break to try and go in the right way,” Iginla said. “We have two left, then some of the guys will go and we’ll enjoy watching them.”
Vancouver had won the last two meetings since the Bruins beat the Canucks in seven games in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.
Boston appeared to take a 3-1 lead just 2:21 after Diaz scored, but Brad Marchand’s goal was waved off after officials ruled Boston’s Torey Krug interfered with Luongo. The goalie immediately protested and gave Krug a shove, which led to a crowd in front of the net but nothing further.
Luongo had no argument after the next goal. Paille took a long pass from Johnny Boychuk at the blue line for a breakaway and beat Luongo on a backhand with 2:54 left in the period.
Rask stopped a pair of short-handed chances during Boston’s first power play, then Daniel Sedin’s breakaway in the second that led to the Bruins’ second goal. Zdeno Chara slipped a crossing pass to Iginla for a one-timer past Luongo on the glove side with 12:01 left in the second.
Lucic, who gave Boston a 1-0 lead 5:12 into the game, also got an assist on the play.
NOTES: Iginla’s assist on Lucic’s goal was the 600th of his career. … Diaz made his Vancouver debut after he was obtained from Montreal for forward Dale Weise on Monday. … The Bruins improved to 27-3-0 when leading by two or more goals this season. … Chara played his final game for the Bruins before leaving for Russia to carry Slovakia’s flag during the opening ceremony at the Winter Olympics on Friday.