''It's evident now that we are not winning hockey games because we are not playing the full 60 minutes,'' said second-year left winger Milan Lucic, who totaled a game-high six hits in his return from an undisclosed injury. ''Most goals scored at this time of the year are scored by going to the net and chipping away, and we've got to do more of that.''
Lucic was reunited with linemates Marc Savard and Phil Kessel for the third period. The trio played well, until it came to squeezing off good shots. Lucic didn't land one shot in 14:29 of ice time. Savard had one shot on net, Kessel had three.
''It's frustrating,'' added center Patrice Bergeron. ''We have to figure out what's going on, bear down and start winning battles. We lost it at the end of the first period. It wasn't any good in the second. The third was better, we started to win more battles, but...''
Bergeron finished the game centering a line with newcomer Mark Recchi, shifted over from the Savard line, and Chuck Kobasew.
Recchi managed only one shot on net, and passed up a prime chance in the first period when he and linemates Savard and Kessel rushed in on a 3-on-1 break. Had they buried the chance--they didn't manage a shot--the night might have been different.
''No reason in the world we can't score more than one goal,'' said a frustrated Claude Julien, his forwards lacking not only in finish, but in net presence, the critical element of being able to stake out territory in prime scoring areas. ''Right now we are in between everything.''
Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky: ''We beat a very good hockey club tonight. They're a big strong team, and I admire the way our defense took hits to make plays.''
The biggest hit of the night was sustained by new Coyote forward Petr Prucha (ex-Ranger), who was buried into the sideboards by Zdeno Chara. Inexplicably, Chara was tagged with an interference minor (perhaps the rule book doesn't include near-accidental homicide?).
''Chara,'' said Gretzky ''is one of the hardest defensemen you'll play against in this game. He's a solid man, and Prucha kept sticking his nose in there. It was a nice effort.''
The Bruins outhit the Coyotes by a whopping 31-10 margin. Lucic's half-dozen led the way, followed by Stephane Yelle (4). Ed Jovanovski led the Coyotes with three hits.
The Bruins attempted 59 shots (26 made it through), compared to Phoenix's 39 (18 on net).
The Bruins have failed to put up as many as 30 shots in three of their last four games.
Blake Wheeler ended the night on Boston's fourth line, working with Yelle and Shawn Thornton. He shot once over 10:35, the smallest amount of ice time logged by any Bruin.