ST. PAUL, Minn. - Sometimes it takes the first extended road trip for a hockey team to start coming together. That appears to be the case with the Boston Bruins.
David Krejci scored the shootout winner, and rookie goalie Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots to help the Bruins win their fourth straight game, 2-1 over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.
The Bruins closed out a perfect four-game trip by beating the Wild for just the second time in team history despite managing a season-low 16 shots.
"It's one of those things we probably needed with where we were," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We were a little frustrated even before that four-game winning streak. This road trip has been good for us and good for the confidence. Now it's up to us to go back home and bring that in our own building as well."
The way Rask played, it likely wouldn't have mattered where Boston was playing.
The rookie made his fifth straight start for the Bruins as regular goalie Tim Thomas remains out with an undisclosed injury. Rask stopped five shots in overtime, including a point-blank chance from Mikko Koivu, and three of four shootout chances to improve to 7-2-1 this season.
"They ran into a hot goaltender," Julien said. "I think he's one of those franchise goaltenders and we're fortunate right now to have two of those guys and it puts us in a position of strength."
The Wild, playing without five key players due to injuries and illness, still managed to outshoot the Bruins 18-7 through two periods. Brent Burns, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Petr Sykora are all out with concussions, Martin Havlat remains out with a hamstring injury and Antti Miettinen was a late scratch because of an illness.
"It's just one of those things that we've had to continually deal with," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "We had opportunities, great opportunities. We had a couple swats at pucks where the puck was bouncing and just missed it."
Boston didn't register its first shot until 6:30 of the first period, but winger Byron Bitz made it count. Bitz tipped Derek Morris' slap shot past goalie Niklas Backstrom to give the Bruins an early lead.
"We can't be too happy because we didn't play nearly as good as we can, but we found a way," Bitz said. "Guys came up big in the shootout and our penalty kill did a hell of a job. We found a way."
Newcomer Andrew Ebbett tied it midway through the second by tipping Owen Nolan's shot past Rask. Ebbett was picked up off of waivers from Chicago on Saturday.
Minnesota failed to capitalize on momentum built from a late-game win over the New York Islanders in their last game and Richards doesn't want to see the team slump after this tough loss.
"What we're talking about now is making sure we don't come out flat on Friday (against Colorado) and make sure we carry over all the good things we did tonight and keep making steps at becoming better," he said.
Boston improved to 12-8-4 overall and 4-3 in shootouts, while the Wild dropped to 8-13-2 and 1-3.
Notes: Twins catcher and AL MVP Joe Mauer became the sixth person in Wild history to perform a ceremonial puck drop before the game. Mauer's teammate, 2006 MVP Justin Morneau, led the crowd in the traditional "Let's play hockey." ... New Wild winger Guillaume Latendresse, acquired from the Canadiens for Benoit Pouliot on Monday, is still in Canada waiting for work visa issues to clear before joining the team. The Wild hopes to have him for Friday and Saturday's back-to-back games against Colorado. ... Wild winger Chuck Kobasew returned to face his former team after missing four games with an upper-body injury. ... Bruins winger Milan Lucic limped off the ice and back to the locker room with an apparent leg injury late in the third. ... Rask was whistled for a hooking penalty late in the first period.