After what can only be described as an emotional week that saw their game pushed back a day, the Penguins and Bruins attempted to return the hockey world to normal in Beantown with a 12:30 puck drop at TD Garden. With the season winding down and both teams having clinched their playoff spots, this afternoons contest was simply for bragging rights. A Pittsburgh victory would lock the Penguins into first place in the Eastern Conference heading into the post-season while giving them a season sweep of the Bruins. For the Bruins, it would break a three game losing streak.
Starting the game off on a typical Penguins-Bruins note, both teams exchanged a couple big hits and with just 8 minutes off the clock, Tanner Glass and Adam McQuaid decided to drop the gloves. Both would be given five for fighting. A minute and a half later, Matt Cooke was sent to the box for a slash, giving the Bruins the man advantage. Boston wasted no time converting on the power play, the goal courtesy of Brad Marchand. Marchand carried the puck down the ice before setting off a shot that would trickle behind Tomas Vokoun. Boston would earn another power play when Tyler Kennedy was called for a slash but this time around, they couldn’t make anything of the opportunity. Before the end of the period, Jarome Iginla and Nathan Horton dropped the gloves, signalling the end of Horton’s game as he did not return. After twenty, the Bruins held a 1 to 0 lead while outshooting the Penguins 13 to 5.
Five minutes into the second, Jussi Jokinen earned the Pens first of the game, tying it up at a goal apiece. Set up be a chaotic screen courtesy of Craig Adams and Tanner Glass, Jokinen was able to sneak in a shuffle a rebound past Bruins’ net-minder Tuuka Rask. The goal shifted momentum of the game in favour of the Penguins, controlling the o-zone and being incredibly physical. That doesn’t mean Boston didn’t get their opportunities, as Vokoun had to come up big a time or two. Much as the first period had seen a march of the Penguins to the penalty box, ten minutes in total, the second half of the second period saw the Bruins spent their fair amount of time in there. Matt Cooke would lay a clean hit on Adam McQuaid that would send McQuaid down the run way. (McQuaid did return for the third.) Zdeno Chara took exception to the hit, hitting Cooke in turn, and earning a two minute break for his efforts. After forty, the game remained tied despite the extra workouts by special teams on both sides.
The Penguins started the third period up a man as the result of a late hooking call to Jaromir Jagr. Boston had no problem killing off the penalty. However, they headed right back to the PK when Brad Marchand was whistled for roughing. This opened up an opportunity for Iginla, much to the chagrin of the Boston fans, their boos echoing through the Garden, to give the Penguins a 2 to 1 lead. Iginla’s shot ripped past Rask. The Penguins third would come courtesy of Kris Letang with eight and a half minutes off the clock. Boston’s Matt Bartowski was whistled for a hi-stick, giving the Penguins the advantage of the extra attacker. Letang’s goal came twelve seconds into the power play. Vokoun would make two back to back saves, on Marchand and then Seguin to keep the Penguins two-goal lead. With 1:15 left, Rask was pulled in favour of the extra attacker and while Tyler Seguin would eventually score with just over two seconds left on the clock, it just wasn’t enough. Pittsburgh would take the game 3-2, sweeping the season series and earning home ice advantage during the playoffs.
Kris Letang led all skaters with 24:24 of ice time while Brooks Orpik earned 23:06. Chris Kunitz had five shots on goal while Letang had four. Jussi Jokinen enjoyed a three point afternoon with a goal and two assists. Tomas Vokoun faced 40 shots while the Pens sent 24 toward Rask. The win this afternoon is the Penguins sixth in a row.
The Penguins continue to be without Sidney Crosby (upper body), Evgeni Malkin (upper body), James Neal (concussion), and Paul Martin (upper body.) All four men have returned to practice and Malkin did make the trip with the team. It is expected that three of the four will be ready for the first round of the playoffs.
The Penguins will travel to Ottawa where they will face off against the Sabres Monday night. Game time is 7:30pm.