BOSTON — The Boston Bruins are in a tight race for one of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spots, and they knew they couldn't slip up against a struggling team.
Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist, helping the Bruins send the Arizona Coyotes to their ninth straight loss, 4-1 on Saturday night.
"We can't afford not to be prepared for games like this just because of their record right now or what they've been going through," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I think it's important that if we want to be in one of those playoff spots that we are ready on a nightly basis and gain as many points as we can. I think there's a lot of reasons for us to not take these kind of situations lightly and I think the guys responded well."
Zdeno Chara added a power-play goal and an assist for the Bruins, who won for the third time in four games following a six-game losing streak (0-4-2).
Tuukka Rask made 31 saves for Boston after missing Friday's win in New Jersey because he was sick. He was hardly tested in the first two periods as Boston built a 4-0 lead.
The Bruins knew it was important to jump on Arizona fast.
"For sure, I know teams have done it to us when things haven't been going great," Boston center Chris Kelly said. "You start second-guessing yourself."
Martin Erat scored for the Coyotes, who finished a four-game trip during which they got outscored 16-5.
After the game, Arizona traded center Antoine Vermette to Chicago for a first-round pick this year and defensive prospect Klas Dahlbeck. The 32-year-old Vermette is in position to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. He has 13 goals and 22 assists in 62 games this season.
"I don't know what I am thinking. It's obviously a strange position, and it's not a fun one," Vermette said before the trade. "It's not the way you see it, you know as a group here. It's not the position you want to be. It's a little strange."
Arizona starting goalie Mike Smith was pulled after giving up four goals on 20 shots, including Lucic's that caromed in off his skate when he was out of position.
"Well, bad break. Smitty bobbled that first one and got us behind early," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "That's probably not a recipe for success right there."
The Bruins won both regular-season meetings by easy margins, also posting a 5-2 victory in Arizona on Dec. 6.
Lucic's goal made it 1-0 just 2:40 in. Smith mishandled David Pastrnak's dump-in pass behind the net and Lucic flipped a backhand shot from the side of the net.
Marchand fired a wrister from the left circle after taking a cross-ice pass from Reilly Smith, sending it past Smith's glove to make it 2-0 late in the first.
Bergeron's goal increased it to 3-0 early in the second when his backhander hit Keith Yandle's left skate and trickled into the net.
With the Bruins skating on a power play, Chara unloaded a slap shot that beat Mike Smith over the left shoulder, making it 4-0 midway into the second. Smith was then replaced by Louis Domingue.
Erat scored with 9:39 left in the game.
NOTES: It was Boston's sixth straight win against the Coyotes. ... Arizona RW Mark Arcobello played his 100th career game. ... Hall of Famer Johnny Bucyk, who turns 80 in May, watched from a luxury box. ... The Bruins wore their alternate jerseys — black with gold trim and a bear on the front. ... The Coyotes entered with 23 road power-play goals, second in the NHL. ... The Bruins are off until Thursday when they face Calgary. ... Arizona opens a six-game homestand when it hosts Anaheim on Tuesday.
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