BOSTON – The trading deadline paid immediate dividends for the last-place Phoenix Coyotes, but the East-leading Boston is still waiting for its newest players to pitch in.
Scottie Upshall scored Phoenix’s first goal and Nigel Dawes assisted on the winner Thursday night as the revamped Coyotes beat the Bruins 2-1 to send the Eastern Conference leaders to their ninth loss in 12 games.
“The guys realize this is not good enough,” new Bruins forward Mark Recchi said, “especially this time of year.”
Steven Reinprecht broke a second-period tie, and Ilja Bryzgalov stopped 25 shots to snap the Coyotes’ three-game losing streak.
The Coyotes, who made four trades and acquired five players at the deadline Wednesday, hadn’t won in Boston since Oct. 7, 1996 – the game before the former Winnipeg Jets played their first-ever home opener in Phoenix.
“We talked about getting up for the Bruins because they’ve owned the NHL this year,” said Coyotes captain Shane Doan, whose team is tied for last in the Pacific Division and tied for 13th in the 15-team Western Conference.
“They have a huge cushion right now.”
Not as big as it once was.
What had been a double-digit lead in the conference after Boston’s 39-8-6 start is down to six points over the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins still lead Montreal in the Northeast Division by 18 points, though Detroit has taken over the lead in the Presidents’ Trophy race.
“I can give you all the excuses, but there shouldn’t be any,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “If we are spending too much time looking at the standings, we aren’t going to be able to get out of this.”
Chuck Kobasew scored, and Tim Thomas made 16 saves in the first game since Boston added Recchi and defenceman Steve Montador.
“We’re a team that’s looking ahead, not looking back,” Montador said. “This is a team that’s got the next five weeks … to gain some momentum back. The good thing about a setback is it enables a comeback.”
Montador, who went from ninth place to first when he went from Anaheim to Boston, said he was excited to be in an Original Six city with a strong hockey tradition.
But part of that tradition is a passion that showed itself when the crowd booed the team leaving the ice.
Bruins defenceman Aaron Ward said the players hear the fans booing “and they have that right.”
“I keep coming back to the same answers and the same games, and I don’t know what’s … going on,” Ward said. “No offence, but this is disparaging to sit here and have to talk to you guys about this.
“Hopefully the injection of new blood in this team can spark something.”
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead when Kobasew’s shot was deflected between Bryzgalov’s pads at the 7:09 mark of the first period.
But Upshall, acquired from Philadelphia on Wednesday, tied it five minutes later, and Reinprecht gave the Coyotes the lead with 12:08 left in the second when he tipped a pass from Dawes past Thomas.
The teams made six deals combined at Wednesday’s deadline, and seven players were on the other ice were wearing different uniforms two days ago.
Upshall played against the Bruins on Tuesday night for Philadelphia, and Montador was in town a week ago playing for the Anaheim Ducks.
Notes: Bruins Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt celebrated his 91st birthday. … Phoenix only took one even-strength shot in the first period. … Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara flattened Petr Prucha in the first period, choosing to take out the Coyotes forward instead of keeping the puck in the zone. … Upshall had gone 18 games without a goal before scoring against Boston in the Flyers’ 4-2 win Tuesday night. He has scored in consecutive games – both against the Bruins.