The Boston Bruins didn’t need Patrice Bergeron to secure the 500th victory of Claude Julien’s coaching career.
With their star center sidelined with an undisclosed injury, the Bruins received goals from three different lines and points from eight different players Saturday afternoon as they dispatched the flailing Minnesota Wild 4-2 at the Xcel Energy Center.
For Julien, the result brought him to within six victories of the legendary Art Ross, who owns the Bruins’ all-time record for coaching wins.
Minnesota had no such reason to celebrate. The loss was the Wild’s eighth in a row and their 13th in 14 games.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Loui Eriksson scored the 200th goal of his NHL career to put the Bruins ahead 3-1 midway through the third period.
Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes, the latter of whom laid a huge hit to help spring Eriksson, were credited with assists.
Zdeno Chara stretched that advantage to three goals with an empty-netter, and a goal by Wild rookie Mike Reilly with 36.7 seconds remaining proved to be too little, too late.
Bruins goalie Jonas Gustavsson finished with 31 saves in his first start since Jan. 26.
BERGERON BANGED UP
Bergeron missed his first game of the season after suffering an injury in Thursday’s 6-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets — most likely during his second-period fight with Blake Wheeler. Spooner filled his spot on Boston’s first line, and Joonas Kemppainen replaced Spooner on the third line after being recalled Friday from Providence.
Spooner and Eriksson are the only Bruins players who have yet to miss a game this season.
MARCHAND, SO HOT RIGHT NOW
Add the Wild to the long list of teams that have not been able to contain Brad Marchand.
The Bruins winger kept up his white-hot pace even with longtime linemate Bergeron out of commission, putting the Bruins on the board first with a shorthanded goal six minutes into the opening period.
It was Marchand’s 12th goal in 12 games — making him the first Bruins player since Phil Kessel in 2008 to achieve such a feat — and his team-leading 27th of the season. He needs just one more goal over the Bruins’ final 26 games to match his single-season career high of 28, which he set during the 2011-12 campaign.
David Krejci assisted on the score.
Noted Bruins killer Thomas Vanek pulled the Wild even with a goal at the 11:13 mark of the second period, but Krejci struck back with a tally of his own just 35 seconds later to reestablish Boston’s advantage.
The Bruins center capped a give-and-go with linemate David Pastrnak by banking the puck off Wild winger Nino Niederreiter and over the goal line.
Niederreiter’s momentum caused him to crash into the net and knock it off its moorings, but officials determined after a video review that Krejci’s shot had crossed the line before the cage became dislodged.
The goal gave Krejci nine points (two goals, seven assists) in the 10 games since he returned from the upper body injury that sidelined him for nearly a month. Matt Beleskey provided the secondary assist.
The absence of Bergeron, who leads all Bruins forwards in shorthanded time on ice, forced several of his teammates to take on more penalty-killing responsibilities, especially after Boston gifted Minnesota five power plays in the game. They acquitted themselves well, holding the Wild scoreless on each of their man-advantage opportunities.
Boston’s power-play was equally unsuccessful, however, going 0-for-5, as well.
The Bruins’ six-game road trip continues Sunday at Joe Louis Arena, where Boston will take on the Detroit Red Wings.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand