By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Ritchie – Krejci – Smith
Bjork – Coyle – Senyshyn
Blidh – Frederic – Kuhlman
Lauzon – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Zboril – Clifton
Guentzel – Crosby – Rust
Zucker – McCann – Rodrigues
Aston-Reese – Gaudreau – Tanev
Lafferty – Jankowski – Angello
Dumoulin – Letang
Matheson – Ceci
Pettersson – Marino
This one got off to a slow start for the Bruins, to say the least. There was a pretty slow pace to the game as a whole, but particularly with the Bruins. It took 7:28 for them to get their first shot on goal. Dan Vladar made a nice glove save, but other than that, there wasn’t much explosiveness early on following a crazy game on Tuesday against the Devils.
Brian Dumoulin took a cross-checking penalty with 9:01 to go, giving the Bruins their first power play of the game against a red hot Penguins’ penalty kill. They killed off 20 of their last 21 penalties coming into the game.
Shots on goal in the first period were seven to two in favor of the Penguins. Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril had those two shots, meaning no shots on goal from a single forward on the team. Luckily, Dan Vladar played well and helped keep this game scoreless.
It was announced that Brandon Carlo was ruled out for the rest of the game and wouldn’t return right before the start of the second period. Additionally, Jeremy Lauzon was not on the bench at the start, because he required stitches due to an incident with a skate blade in the first period. He wasn’t out of the picture for long and returned to the bench, though. Overall, not an ideal scenario for the Bruins.
Vladar made a huge breakaway save on Jared McCann early on, but was eventually bested a little later on by Zach Aston-Reese. It was 1-0 Penguins just 2:01 in. Bruce Cassidy went on to throw a new-look top line out there consisting of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Zach Senyshyn in order to spark the team.
Trent Frederic took a punch from Kris Letang and was not happy about it, and Charlie McAvoy leveled Aston-Reese. Perhaps a couple of things that could spark the team, and the Bruins needed it.
Mike Matheson made it 2-0 Penguins on a solo effort, beating Lauzon on the rush and burying it. Despite a somewhat more inspired effort from the Bruins at times throughout the period, they couldn’t get on the board.
McAvoy went so hard on a scoring opportunity that he was shaken up at the end of it a bit, falling awkwardly into the boards. Connor Clifton laid a big hit on Brandon Tanev late in the period and the two jawed at one another near the benches. Vladar had the last highlight of the period, making a massive save on Frederick Gaudreau.
Shots on goal in the period were 13 to ten in favor of the Bruins, bringing the total to 17 to 15 in favor of the Penguins. A shots on goal advantage is nice, but this team needed way more to sniff any chance at a win.
Score: 2-0 Pittsburgh
Lauzon went off for interference 31 seconds into the period. Just 32 seconds after that, Brad Marchand and Kris Letang both found themselves tangled up along the boards and received offsetting minor penalties as a result – Marchand for roughing and Letang for holding. Play returned to even-strength and the Bruins were unharmed.
Matt Grzelcyk took a puck to the side of the head and was clearly in pain. He made his way down the tunnel with Bruins head athletic trainer Don DelNegro after the fact. Fortunately, it didn’t take him long to make his way back to the ice.
Marchand broke Casey DeSmith’s shutout with his second goal in as many games following his return to the lineup. Patrice Bergeron (18) and Jakub Zboril (7) had the assists on the goal with 8:46 to go.
Evan Rodrigues took advantage of a Pastrnak turnover and found Jason Zucker on the insurance marker for the Penguins. The momentum the Bruins once had from the Marchand goal was gone pretty quickly and it was 3-1 Penguins with 6:53 remaining in the third period.
Vladar was pulled for the extra attacker late in the game, but to no avail, as Jake Guentzel buried the empty-netter with 2:09 left to seal the deal. Vladar made 20 saves in the loss and despite losing, was one of the bright spots in the game.
It was a tough loss against a Penguins team that came into the Garden with wins in their last four games, with DeSmith being on a hot streak. Shots on goal in the third period were 16 to six, bringing the final total to 31 to 23 in favor of the Bruins. An opportunity to salvage something in a Saturday matinee lied ahead. The Bruins are 18-10-5.
Final Score: 4-1 Pittsburgh