By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Arena: PPG Paints Arena – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Home: Pittsburgh Penguins (13-11-6)
Away: Boston Bruins (17-10-4)
The Boston Bruins come into Friday’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins with a three-game win streak over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Arizona Coyotes. The Bruins’ top-line of Marchand, Krejci, and Pastrnak have a combined twenty points during the span and the Bruins will be looking to continue that success against the Pens.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is coming off of a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Pittsburgh’s stars of Crosby and Malkin have been struggling as of late and goaltender Casey DeSmith allowed four of the six goals against Chicago, finishing the night with a .852 save percentage.
Bruins GameDay Lineup
Forward Jake DeBrusk remains out of the lineup due to the NHL’s concussion protocol, while Sean Kuraly returns from a minor nose procedure. Jaroslav Halak is getting the start in between the pipes for Boston.
Not a whole lot of action happened in the first eight minutes of this contest. Within the first six minutes, the Pens outshot the Bruins 5-to-1, including a solid shot from forward Zach Aston-Reese. Bruins defenceman Brandon Carlo took a holding minor just under three minutes into the frame, but the penalty-killing unit successfully killed the penalty.
The entirety of the first-period was filled with some good chances on either side of the puck. David Pastrnak showed some great offensive pressure throughout the twenty minutes, always trying to steal the puck from the opposing players and trying to take the puck to the net.
Chris Wagner received a nice pass from John Moore but was shut down right in front of the net by DeSmith. At the other end of the ice, Bryan Rust, who is coming off of a hat-trick in Wednesday’s loss to the Blackhawks, rings a shot off the crossbar.
With just under four-and-a-half minutes left to trail in the opening period, David Krejci makes a clean pass with a defender right by his side to Brad Marchand who looked to have an open net due to a sprawling DeSmith. Somehow, DeSmith manages to rob Marchand with the glove. Marchand was unable to gain enough control to raise the puck, but have to give credit where credit is due on this save.
Not too long after that robbery, Pittsburgh would strike first. David Krejci failed to make a pass to a Bruin, instead, he decided on passing it to a Penguin. Along with that, the two Bruin defensemen on the ice at the time decided to pressure Matt Cullen behind the net, leaving Derek Grant who fired it far-side, 1-0 Penguins.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 11 PIT: 9
Score: 1-0 Penguins
Only a mere 1:56 into the middle period, the Bruins fall asleep when defending Evgeni Malkin in Boston’s zone, who waits then fires a pass right to Phil Kessel who rips a shot that Jaroslav Halak had almost no chance on. Penguins with a late first-period goal and an early second-period goal to make it 2-0. The goal is Kessel’s thirteenth goal of the year assisted by Malkin and Aston-Reese.
Five minutes into the period, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel find themselves on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush with Charlie McAvoy being the lone Bruin on defence. Crosby decided to shoot the puck, but Halak’s trust in McAvoy to cover the pass allows him to make a pad save. Crosby would fan on the rebound and the game remains 2-0.
About nine minutes in, the Bruins find themselves on a small 2-on-1, with Colby Cave firing a shot, leaving David Backes wide open for a rebound, but Jake Guentzel slashed his hand – sending Boston to a power-play, where they would fail to gain many quality opportunities on the man-advantage and it quickly becomes 5-on-5 hockey once again.
Not long after the power-play vanished, the fourth line of the Bruins worked hard along the boards, leading to an absolute bomb from Brandon Carlo for his first goal in 116 games (longest active NHL goal drought) bringing it back within one.
Later, on another Bruins power-play, Charlie McAvoy gets caught pinching at the blueline, allowing 2-on-1 to generate with Aston-Reese and Riley Sheahan. Sheahan found Aston-Reese who buried it, Penguins take their two-goal cushion back. To close the frame, Bryan Rust gets around McAvoy, who makes another bad defensive play, but Halak makes the save.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 29 PIT: 18
Score: 3-1 Penguins
Needing an early third-period goal to make it interesting, Torey Krug makes a poor breakout pass, leading to a good chance for Pittsburgh but Halak stands tall and makes the big save to keep it a two-goal game early. Under six minutes into the final regulation period, Evgeni Malkin gets a clean breakaway, but Halak comes up large once again, shutting the door.
The fourth line played a solid game all night and it finally paid off with a Chris Wagner slapshot goal assisted from McAvoy and Kuraly. The line has been working all night along the boards and Bruce Cassidy seemed to gain more and more trust as the game went on.
The momentum continued to build after Wagner’s third goal of the season and the rest of the team seemed to have a fire lit underneath them. Brad Marchand found an open David Pastrnak on a partial breakaway, only to ring it off the post. The Penguins players looked confused, allowing David Krejci to bury the open rebound – tying the game at three apiece with twelve minutes remaining.
However, only two minutes after that tying goal, Jake Guentzel tipped a Kris Letang shot right off of the faceoff win and the puck takes a massive drop downwards, beating Halak five-hole and Pittsburgh takes their lead right back.
Boston failed to score another goal for the remainder of the game, but not without a pile of chances to bury another tying goal. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson had some good close shots but Casey DeSmith continued to rob the Bruins forward core and he keeps it a 4-3 Penguins lead. Then, with Halak on the bench, Aston-Reese buries the empty-net goal and Pittsburgh takes a 5-3 win.
Boston’s three-game winning streak ends in Pittsburgh.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 51 PIT: 28
Final Score: 5-3 Penguins
Max’s Three Stars
1st Star: PIT G Casey DeSmith – 48 Saves, .941 SV%
2nd Star: PIT F Zach Aston-Reese – 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 5 Shots, 14:13 TOI
3rd Star: PIT F Jake Guentzel – Game-Winning Goal, 2 Shots
Boston’s record now sits at 17-11-4 following tonight’s loss. The team will now head back to Boston for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres on home ice. Current scheduled time for puck drop is 5:00pm EST.