BOSTON – Fluky goals, gift-wrapped pucks from opponents, perfectly placed rebounds.
When you’re a team as deep as the Boston Bruins, and when you’re running as hot as they are, things just come easy sometimes.
In front of a sea of green fans on the holiest of Boston holidays — St. Patrick’s Day — the Wild hoped to get a little luck from the Irish and extinguish the hottest team in the NHL’s winning streak.
No dice as the Bruins, maybe the front-runner to come out of the East this springtime, made it nine in a row by beating the Wild 4-1.
“They were real consistent in how they played,” defenseman Keith Ballard said. “They have a good balance to their lineup.”
The Wild doesn’t. The Eastern Conference’s best offensive and defensive team got goals from three lines (two from Wild slayer Jarome Iginla) and kept Minnesota, the prototypical one-line team, to only a late second-period goal by Jason Pominville.
It was Pominville 26th goal and fourth in five games. The Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund- Pominville line has scored 14 goals in the past 13 games.
The rest of the team has 17.
“We’re going to look at our lines [before Tuesday’s game at the Islanders],” coach Mike Yeo said. “I’m not sure that we have exactly the right mix. Whether we change one, two, three lines, I’m not sure. We have to figure this out though, because it doesn’t quite have the right feel.”
The Wild’s hope when it acquired three-time 30-goal scorer Matt Moulson six games ago and got captain Mikko Koivu back from a broken ankle seven games ago was to improve on the league’s 25th-ranked offense.
It has dipped to 28th instead. The Wild, 9-2-2 in 13 games leading up to the trade deadline, is 1-2-3 since the Moulson acquisition and 2-2-3 since Koivu’s return.
Against the Bruins, the Moulson-Koivu-Charlie Coyle line generated several bona fide scoring chances, but “we just didn’t bury them,” Coyle said. “We could have changed the momentum of the game from any point.”
Tuukka Rask, as usual, was up to the task with 33 saves. He denied Coyle, the Weymouth, Mass., native, with his glove seconds into the game. Later, Koivu blew through the Bruins defense, but the Finnish countryman turned Koivu’s stab away.
In the second, Coyle and Koivu teamed for a give-and-go, but after Koivu’s neat cut to the inside, Rask robbed the backhander with a sliding glove.
“He was as good as people say he is,” Koivu said of Rask. On his line, Koivu, who has no goals and two assists in seven games since returning, said, “We had some good shifts, but we have to be better.”
From the opening faceoff, Wild players were on the puck, engaged and created turnovers galore. But in a familiar story, the art of finishing still comes excruciatingly hard.
For the 12th consecutive game, the Wild scored three or fewer goals.
As hard as the Wild worked, Iginla scored the game’s first goal on a goofy flutterer that goalie Darcy Kuemper lost sight of when it nicked teammate Jonas Brodin’s hip. Iginla, the all-time leading scorer against the Wild with 37 goals and 67 points, later added an empty-netter, fittingly.