BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins were sorry to see January come to an end.
The Bruins closed out a stellar run through the month with a 3-1 win over Los Angeles on Saturday, answering a strong push from the Kings in the third period with two late goals to finish off the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Chris Kelly broke a 1-all tie with 5:27 left in the third period and Brad Marchand added an empty-netter for his second goal of the game as the Bruins finished the month with a record of 8-1-3.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said the atmosphere felt a little more like spring than a regular-season game on a frigid Boston winter night.
“It was just really two hard-working teams battling for the win,” said Chara, who had an assist on Marchand’s goal that broke the scoreless tie late in the second period. “There was not much room to do a lot. It was a really tight checking game and really those goals were not highlight-reel goals. It was kind of like a playoff-feel goals.”
Tuukka Rask stopped 30 shots for the Bruins as he and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick exchanged tough saves throughout the night.
Quick also finished with 30 saves, but took the loss as the Kings lost yet another close one. Los Angeles fell to 1-2-2 in its last five games, all of which were decided by two goals or less.
“We thought we played well again and we didn’t bury our chances,” said Jordan Nolan, who scored the Kings’ only goal. “I thought it was a good hockey game. They play the same style that we do and they are exciting games to watch for the fans and we like being a part of those. Tonight, they got the better of us.”
Nolan broke up Rask’s shutout bid on a soft wrist shot with seven minutes left in the third. It was his second goal of the season and evened the score at 1-1, but the tie didn’t last long.
Kelly put Boston back on top 1:33 later when he tipped in Carl Soderberg’s shot. The puck was in and out of the net too quickly for the officials to see and wasn’t ruled a goal until a video review confirmed it went in.
“I didn’t even know it went in, to be honest. That’s why I was trying to get the rebound,” Kelly said. “I actually heard a linesman say to the ref ‘I think that went in,’ so the replay works in your favor sometimes.”
The Kings continued to throw shots at Rask, but he didn’t let anything past him after Nolan’s goal.
“He’s been great. We’ve talked about it for a long time and you know this last month he’s been on fire,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “He made some huge saves at some opportune times, but so did the other guy at the other end. So you know it was a good goaltender duel tonight and a good battle overall from two teams.”
Marchand broke the scoreless tie on a goal with 3:40 left in the second period, then added his 15th of the season with 17 seconds left to play. Marchand directed a backhand toward the empty net and the puck slowly drifted in, just out of Jeff Carter’s reach as he raced to try to stop it.
“I didn’t mean to shoot it that far at first,” Marchand said. “I just wanted to chip it and kind of go after it.”
Marchand beat Quick on a wrist shot from just inside the blue line on a drop pass from Zdeno Chara. It was Boston’s first goal against the Kings since Marchand scored 8:53 into the third period of a game on Jan. 20, 2014.
Tyler Toffoli just missed tying it about 2:20 into the third period on a shot that bounced hard off the post with a loud clang. It was one of just a few shots for Los Angeles that Rask didn’t get a piece of as he withstood the Kings’ pressure in the third period.
Marchand actually celebrated three goals, but only two counted. He was a second or two late on a wrist shot that beat Quick at the end of the first period. Replays showed the puck didn’t cross the goal line until after time had expired and it remained scoreless heading into the second.
NOTES: Los Angeles opened a five-game Eastern Conference road trip, which will include a stop at the White House on Monday while the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings are in town to play the Capitals on Monday night. … Marchand was the last Boston player to score against the Kings, scoring 8:53 into the third on Jan. 20, 2014, in Boston. … Boston’s backup goalie was Malcolm Subban, younger brother of Montreal D P.K. Subban, who dressed for the first time in the NHL but did not play. The Bruins called up Subban from Providence of the AHL on Friday.