-Greeting on a chilly, windy and overcast day in Pittsburgh. It's in the mid 30s. Winter is getting it's last few breaths in before spring.
-The Penguins face what is perhaps their toughest test of the season in the Bruins. Boston, on paper, has perhaps the deepest roster in the Eastern Conference. With apologies to Zdeno Chara, there aren't any true superstars on the roster. What Boston does have is four solid lines which can score and play physical defense. Boston also has a deep blue line with three rock-solid pairings. Even with the advantage of having last change before faceoffs as the home team, the Penguins will have their hands full in terms of match-ups tonight.
-We're excited to see Sidney Crosby go against the reigning Selke Trophy winner, Patrice Bergeron. In addition to his tenacity, Bergeron has the speed and skill set to keep up with a talent such as Crosby.
-We would expect the Bruins to give Crosby a steady dose of Chara and Johnny Boychuk tonight, especially with Evgeni Malkin still sidelined.
-The Penguins will benefit from the fact that the Bruins had a long game last night in Ottawa and a fairly long night in terms of travel. Ottawa to Pittsburgh (or anywhere) isn't a quick flight, especially with the airport not being anywhere near ScotiaBank Center.
-Also, it looks like Chris Kelly might be absent from the Boston lineup tonight as a result of a potential knee injury. That's one less tenacious forechecker the Penguins should not have to worry about.
-We're eager to see Bruins rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton in person for the first time. From what we've seen on television, he's very composed for a rookie. He has good touch with the puck and a nice set of wheels.
-This will be a special teams battle in terms of extremes. The Penguins' third-ranked power play (25.7 %) will be going against the Bruins' top-ranked penalty kill (92.3 %). Meanwhile, the Penguins' 22nd-ranked penalty kill (78.8%) will take on the Bruins' 23rd-ranked power-play (15.5 %).
-We're assuming the Penguins will dress the same defensive pairings as they did in Sunday's game against the Islanders but Dan Bylsma alluded to the potenital of dressing a seven defenseman - presumably the rough and tumble Deryk Engelland - for tonight's game. The Bruins have a lot of muscle. Having a player like Engelland, even as a seventh defenseman, wouldn't be a terrible idea.
-With starter Tuukka Rask getting the win a long game last night, the Bruins will start goaltender Anton Khudobin. He has only played in five games this season and has a 4-1-0 record with 2.41 goals against average and .910 save percentage. He has never faced the Penguins.
-Bergero_ has a fan on hand:
-We find yet another Mark Letestu jersey:
-Much was made last night of the "toe-push" shootout attempt by Ottawa's Kaspars Daugavins against the Bruins last night. If you didn't see it, here you go:
-If you recall, Penguins left winger Phil Bourqe attempted a similar move on a breakaway early in the 1990-91 season against the Red Wings:
-Bourque, currently a broadcaster with the team, gave his seal of approval to Daugavin's attempt.
-Kris Letang is the ice-time cover tonight:
-Fans entering the barn:
-Ken Wregget has a fan on hand:
-An impressive row of Bruins fans. Ray Bourque, Terry O'Reilly, Brad Marchand and Cam Neely:
-An old Bruins rival, Ron Francis Whalers:
-Former Penguins/Bruins forward Bill Guerin:
-Jersey of the Night: Another Penguins/Bruins forward, Kevin Stevens (with a slight hood foul):
-The Penguins wore purple jerseys for warm-ups to auction for charity.
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Mark Eaton, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres and Evgeni Malkin.
-Scratching Despres for Engelland makes sense given this opponent.
-The Bruins' starters are Patrice Bergon, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference and Anton Khudobin.
-Their scratches are Aaron Johnson, Chris Kelly and Lane MacDermid.
-Jeff Jimerson makes his return:
19:03: David Krejci pushes a puck up the right wing, draws in Brooks Orpik and and deals a pass to Lucic streaking down the slot. Paul Martin keeps pace with Lucic and interferes with him just enough to force him to miss the pass.
18:41: Martin picks up a looes puck in the neutral zone, gains the offensive zone on the right wing, makes a nifty deke by Dougie Hamilton and goes backhand. Khudobin holds it out.
17:03: The Bruins have the makings of a three-on-two into the Penguins' zone. From the left wing, Paille deals a pass from the left wing to the right wing. Letang reads it, breaks up the pass and pushes it back up ice.
16:57: The Penguins are called for too many men on the ice. The great Joe Vitale will serve the minor. Brandon Sutter, Dupuis, Martin and Oprik take the ice.
16:54: Off the faceoff, Dupuis blocks a shot by Hamilson which clears the zone.
15:53: Hamilton chops a shot from the left point which Craig Adams blocks.
15:15: The Bruins strike first on the power play. Chara dumps the puck in to thefrom the neutral zone around the boards to the left wing corner of the Penguins' zone. Peverly wins a battle for it and deals a pass to Seidenberg at the left point. Seidenberg slides a pass to Chara at the right point. Chara unleashes hell in the form of a one-timer to the far side. It appears to glanc off something and snaks under Fleury's blocker. Seidenberg and Peverly get assists. What a shot. That came down to winning a simple puck battle. Bruins 1-0.
12:53: Marchand pushes a puck p the left wing and is dropped on a shoulder check by Matt Niskanen in front of the Penguins bench. Niskanen is starting to play the body more and more. Niskanen probably didnt mind dropping Marchand either. If you recall, Marchand slew-footed him last season:
10:06: Off a nifty feed from Krejci in the right circle, Niskanen snaps off a shot from the slot. Fleury fights it off. Tough save.
9:19: The great Joe Vitale races up the right wing with speed and snaps off a wrister. Seidenberg appeared to get a stick on the shot.
8:42: Ference sfires a slapper from the left point. It hits a leg or two in front. Krejci has a chacne with the rebound but can't settle the puck.
6:30: The Bruins strike again. And from near the net. Marchand snaps off a wrister from the right circle. It hits something in front and deflects to the right wing boards. Marchand jumps on the rebound and wraps a pass around the boards to Begeron behind the cage. Bergeron is able to collect the puck and deal a pass to Tyler Seguin who has sprinted to the slot. All alone, Seguin picks the upper right corner on Fleury and buries the puck. That was way too easy. Eaton and Letang looked lost on that. Bergeron and Marchand get assists. Bruins 2-0.
5:30: Engelland whacks a slapper from the right wing as his stick breaks. The puck hit something. Neal has a chance on the rebound but can't get a clean stick on it.
4:29: Off a poor turnover in the neutral zone by Ference, Sutter hustles up the right wing and booms a slapper on net.
4:15: Gregory Campbell jabs a quick shot form in tight on net. Fleury hodls it out.
3:39: Kunitz deals a pass from behind the net to Dupuis above the blue pain. Dupuis whacks at the puck twice but cant' get a clean shot off. The puck deflects behind the cage. Crosby corrals it and tries to jam in a forehand warparound to the right of the cage. No dice.
2:37: Under pressure from Beau Bennett's forecheck, Hamilton fumbles a puck behind his own net. Neal takes it and is right in front of the crease with a clean chance but shoots it right into Khudobin who smothers the puck.
1:25: As Kunitz pressures on a forecheck, Ference flips a puck out of play from his own zone. That's two minutes for delay of game. Kunitz, Neal, Crosby, Martin and Letang take the ice.
1:18: Letang flings a wrister from the left half wall. Khudobin fights it off despite traffic.
0:09: Taking a pass from letag on on the right wing, Crosby whacks a slapper on net. Khudobin deflects it out of play.
0:00: End of period. Bruins 2, Penguins 0.
-What a dreadful start to this game for the Penguins. They were really flat. This is supposed to be a test of where each team's stands in this conference and the Penguins were completely outclassed. They did generate a little momentum after the second Boston goal and had a few quality scoring chances, but playing form behind against the Bruins is a bad way to go about things.
-After that second goal by Boston, there's a lot of calls to "clear the crease," but those are antiquated. You can't just bulldoze an opposing forward out from your net like Ulf Samuelsson used to. The newer interference rules prevent a lot of those battles. You have to basically win a positioning battle. In other words, you have to be there first. Clearly, the Penguins aren't getting there first.
-The Penguins didn't really appear to do much to take advantage of being the home team. Sidney Crosby saw plenty of Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron.
-Crosby was 1 for 6 in faceoffs against Bergeron. A few years ago, he said he had trouble with Bergeron because of his strength.
-Fleury was okay. He probably could have stopped the Chara goal but Chara has scored that type of goal a lot in his career. Fleury didn't have a prayer on the Seguin goal.
-Khudobin has been strong. The Penguins were able to generate a couple of good chance down low and Khudobin was just positioned perfectly for them.
-The Penguins have an 11-5 lead in shots.
-Letang leads the game with three shots.
-None of the Bruins has more than one.
-Martin leads the game with 9:09 of ice time.
-Seidenberg leads the Bruins with 8:04.
-The Bruins are dominating faceoffs, 19-5 (79 percent).
-Rich Peverly is 6 for 6 (100 percent).
-Crosby is 3 for 10 (30 percent).
-Seidenberg leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Dupuis and Orpik each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins will have 25 seconds of power-play time on fresh ice. Martin, Letang, Neal, Kunitz and Crosby take the ice.
19:35: The power play ends without much of a threat from the Penguins.
17:21: Letang chops a slapper from the right point which is blocked.
17:08: Dupuis strech pass on the right wing, gains the offenive zone and wires a slapper on net. Khudobin gloves it. Neal lines up for a shift with Crosby and Kunitz on the ensuing faceoff.
16:30: Attendance is announced as 18,640. It is the team's 266th consecutive sellout.
16:07: Crosby is on with Kennedy and Glass. He pulls up off Chara in the right cirlce, and deals a pass to Kennedy streaking up the left wing, Kennedy snaps a shot on net. Khudobin fights it off.
16:01: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Martin snaps off a wrister from the right wing. It hits a few things including one of Cooke's skates and deflects on net. Khubobin sticks with the puck and covers it to freeze play.
15:40: Krejci deals a feed from the right wing boards to Boychuk trailing. Boychuk hammers a slapper which Fleury denies.
15:33: Sutter pushes the puck up the right wingn and lifts a wrister on net. Khudobmin fights it off as Cooke crashes in.
13:53: Letang lifts w rister from above the right circle. Khudobin fights it off.
13:48: Dupuis tries to jam in a little forehand shot from the right side of the cage. Khudobin holds it out.
12:58: Eaton tries to skate a puck uof o his own left cirlce but is tripped up by Marchand. That's two minutes. Kunitz, Neal, Martin, Letang and Crosby take the ice.
12:28: Letang dance his way into the offensive zone and lifts a wrister which is deflectd out of play.
11:51: Letang has the puck stripped by Peverly at the Boston blue line. Pverly pushes it up ice and chips it to the Penguins' zone to get a change.
10:58: The Marchand minor expires. The Bruins' penalty kill was really aggressive there and forced the Penguins ito a few mistakes
10:18: Nathan Horton lifts a wrister from the right circle. Fleury knocks it dead and covers.
7:29: After a few minutes of stagnant play, xx rips a wrister from the left circle over the cage.
6:09: Adams hammers a slapper from the right wing to the far side. Khudobin kicks it out.
5:10: Eaton digs a puck out of a group in the right circle and flings a wrister towards the cage. It appears to hit Crosby to the right side of the cage and bounces wide.
4:54: After Kunit force a turnover behind the Boston net, Crosby has a chance in the slot but falls and sends a backhander wide to the right wing corner.
4:36: Eaton takes a pass at the left point, deks around a defender and lifts wrister which his blocked.
4:11: A wrister by Orpik is blocked and deflected out of play.
3:49: Seguin lifts a wrister form the left wing. Fleury steers it away.
3:15: Bennett fires a slapper from the right wing.
0:48: Using Letang a s screen, Begeron lifts a wrister from the left circle which Fleury is able to fend off.
0:14: Neal grips and rips a wrister from the left wing boards which Boychuk blocks.
0:00: End of period. Bruins 2, Penguins 0.
All you have to know about Claude Julien is that he was fired by the Devils for being too defensive-minded. That's like being fired from the Soviet Union for being too communist.
-That period was a vintage performance by a Julien team. They bogged things down in their own zone. Clogged the shooting and passing lanes with sticks and legs and just let the penguisn attempts a lot of jumky perimeter shots. On the penalty kill, Boston just pressured, pressured, pressured the Penguins into mistakes and didn't allow them to set up their power play.
-True to form, the Bruins didn't even really push things offensive with the lead.
-The Penguins have gotten a fair amount of scoring chances but Khudobin is getting clean looks at them and isn't really being tested a great deal.
-The penguins eemed to have a little bit of success in terms of mixing an dmatching some of their lines. That owned things up a bit in terms of match-ups.
-It doesn't really feel like the Penguins are too far off from breaking through here. They controlled puck possession pretty well that period.
-Dennis Seidenberg is a puck magnet. He just seems to attract shots and passes to his body.
-The Penguins control shots, 22-12.
-Letang and Dupuis each lead the game with five shots.
-Seguin leads the Bruins with three.
-Letang lead the game with 17:15 of ice time.
-Chara leads the Bruins with 15:33.
-The Bruins control faceoffs, 24-15 (62 percent).
-Bergeron is 10 for 14 (71 percent).
-Sutter is 5 for 8 (63 percent).
-Boychuk lead the game with five bloked shots.
-Eaton, Dupuis and Orpik each lead the Penguins with two.
18:59: Kennedy picks up a loose puck in the neutral zone, rushes up the right wing and pops a slapper which is deflected out of play.
18:38: Jeffrey leads a mini two-on-one with Bennett against Ference. Jeffrey snaps off a wrister from the right circle which Khudobin kicks out.
16:65: After a Martin turnover in his own zone, Seguin booms a slapper from above the left circle. Fleury fends it off.
16:51: Crosby tries to skate the rebound out of danger but is tripped up by Bergeron. That's two minutes. This hute for teh penguins with Bergeron in the box. Have to get a goal here. Neal, Crosby, Kunitz, Martin and Letang take the ice.
16:19: Neal has a chance in tight but can't get a stick on the puck.
16:12: Martin fakes a shot at the right poin and deals a pass to Letang in the left circle. Letang hacks a one-timer which is wide of the cage
15:56: Huge chance here for the Penguins. Battling for a puck near the cage and is high sticked by Khubobin. The Penguins will have a five-on-three for 1:05. Claude Julien protests. Campbell will serve the minor. This is a must here for the Penguins. Letang, Neal, Crosby, Bennett and Kunitz the ice.
15:37: Neal get a chance in the right circle and is denied by Khubomin.
15:19: Crosby corrals a puck above the left cicleand whacks a slapper on net. It hits Boychuk's skate an dtrickles in on net. The Penguins call a time-out to get organized.
15:05: Bennett loses a puck to Seidenberg in the right wing corner and Seidenberg flings it down ice for a big clear.
14:51: The Bergeron minor is killed. The Penguins are still dealing wth 55 seconds of a one-man advantage.
14:46: Kunitz deals a pass from behind the cage to Neal in the right circle. Neal rips a wrister to the far sid which hits the post. It's that kind of night for the Penguins.
14:16: Taking a pass in tight from Crosby, Kunitz is denied again by Khudobin.
14:12: The Penguins' power play come to an end as Kunitz is called fro tripping Boychuk at the side of the Boston' cage. That's a killer. Four-on-four for 16 seconds.
13:56: The Khubobin minor expires. The Bruins will have 1:44 of power-play time.
12:58: Shorthanded, Cooke pushes the puck up ice on a two-on-one short-handed against Bergeron. Cooke deals a pass to Adams on the right wing. Adams leans down and lifts a wrister over the net.
12:12: Kunitz's minor is killed. Back to five on five.
9:19: The Bruins are just sitting back at the own blue line wiating for the Penguins to attack them. This is vintage Claude Julien hockey.
8:42: Letang races up the right wing and snaps a wrister. Khudobin allows a sloppy rebound which Ference clears.
8:39: Niskanen cracks a one-timer from the right point which is blocked in front and cleared.
7:27: Letang snaps off a wrister from the right half wall. It hits something in front and is cleared by a white jersey.
6:18: Chris Kunitz to the rescue. Letang takes a pass at the left point, surveys the offensive zone an zings a cross-ice feed to Kunitz in the right circle. Kunitz has his stick cocked and wires a sizzling one-timer between's Khudobin's left shoulder and the near post. Wow. What a shot. That's a goal-scorer's goal. Great feed by Letang. Letang and Engelland get assists. The "Hey Song" gets played finally. THis plac has some noice for the first time in a while. Bruins 2-1.
5:45: After a turnover by Martin hin his own zone, Horton attempts a forehand wraparound fromthe right side of the cage.
5:27: Un.... real... The Penguins have come back?!?!? On a a three-on-one rush, Bennett deals a pss to Neal in the slot. neal backs a pass to Sutter rushing up the left wing and he chucks a pedestrian wrister under the glove hand of Khubobin. How?? Why? This game was over right? Sutter with another clutch goal. Neal and Bennett get assists. The "Hey Song" is always clutch. Bruins 2, Penguins 2.
4:43: Kunitz rips a wrister from the left cirlcewhich is blocked.
3:16: The great Joe Vitale lifts a wrister from the right wing which is partiall blocked.
2:24: A wrister by Lucic above the left circle off a faceoff win is blocked by Kunitz.
2:03: Brandon Sutter = Clutch. After Sutter steals a horrible pass by Seidenberg in the Boston zone, he races up the right wing on a two-one won with Crosby and rips another wrister by the glove hand of Khubobin on the far side. What a display of guts by Sutter. He looks like Chris Drury right now. The goal is unassisted. This place is rocking. The "Hey Song" is blaring. This is all stunning. Penguins 3-2.
0:59: Khudobin is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:41: The Bruisn call a time-out to get organized.
0:05: A late chance by Bergeron in the slot is blocked by Orpik.
0:02: A last second shot by Boychuk from the center poitn is wide to the right corner.
0:00: End of game. Wow... Penguins 3, Bruins 2.
-When the Penguins dealt Jordan Staal this past summer, the big question was if Brandon Sutter could replace his offense. We all knew Sutter could be a strong third-lind defensive center but produce anything close to what Staal did?
-Sutter might not have the pure scoring touch Staal did, but is showing something Staal rarely displayed: An ability to score in clutch situations. Sutter has had huge goals for this team in recent weeks.
- He broke a defensive stalemate in the first period by scoring the first goal of a 5-1 rout of the Devils, Feb. 2
- He scored the eventual game-winning goal in a 4-2 win against the Islanders, Feb. 5.
- He scored a game-tying goal in that whacky 6-5 loss to the Flyers, Feb. 20.
- He scored in overtime in a crazy 7-6 win against the Canadiens, March 2.
- And his efforts tonight were a huge factor in tonight's improbable win
-This guy is clutch. He looked like Chris Drury in the third period. He has done nothing but justify Ray Shero's decision to make this franchise-altering trade in the offseason. The "three-center" model didn't die with Staal's departure. It' just got a new third center.
-Also, how gutsy was it to take the shot and not pass to Crosby in that situation?
-That said, we're still not sure how the Penguins pulled this out. They had no business winning this game. They fell flat on a five-on-three with Patrice Bergeron, the defending Selke Trophy winner, in the penalty box early in the third period. They had to kill off a penalty immeiately after that five-on-three. The Bruins were back on their heels a bit but appeared to have control of the game. The Penguins absolutely stole two points tonight.
-Don't downplay the Bruins' "contributions" to this outcome. They got a two-goal lead and primarily sat back on defense for most of the game. Then turnovers hurt them. Sutter's third goal came off a brutal turnover by Seidenberg in his own zone. The Bruins "earned" this loss.
-The most impressive part of this from the Penguins perspective was that they came back despite Sidney Crosby being shut out and Evgeni Malkin being injured. It was all secondary scoring.
-Anton Khudobin deserved a better fate but it looked like the Penguins identified a flaw in his goal hand. All three of their goals were glove-side on Khudobin.
-The Penguins seemed to finally generate some offense in five-on-five when the shuffled their lines a bit. Sutter was on the second line for his first goal and took a shift with Crosby on his second.
-It's really hard to rate Marc-Andre Fleury on a game like this. He had one goal which could have been saved (Zdeno Chara) and another goal which he didn't have a prayer on (Tyler Segin). Beyond that, he wasn't tested a great deal.
-We loved the game Kris Letang played tonight. He logged a ton of ice time, especially in the third period. He showed some grace under pressure in setting up Kunitz for the team's first goal.
-What kind of tear is Kunitz on? All of his goals against the Islanders Sunday came from near the crease. Tonight's goal was something Mike Bossy would be proud of.
-This isn't the first time Dennis Seidenberg had a horrible turnover which led to a a game-winning goal for the Penguins. Dustin Jeffrey did this in 2010-11:
-The building was quiet most of the night and a lot of fans left the barn during the final timeout. Despite that, the place was playoff-loud after the Kunitz goal for the rest of the contest.
-The Penguins led in shots, 34-16.
-Letang led the game with eight.
-Seguin led the Bruins with four.
-Letang led the game with 27:49 of ice time.
-Dennis Seidenberg led the Bruins with 25:48.
-The Bruins won faceoffs, 33-28 (54 percent).
-Rich Peverly was 10 for 13 (77 percent).
-Sutter was 9 for 15 (60 percent).
-Johnny Boychuk led the game with six blocked shots.
-Brooks Orpik led the Penguins with three.
-Sidney Crosby had an eight-game scoring streak snapped.
-Letang extended a scoring streak to six games. He now has 199 career points.
-The Penguins have won six consecutive games.
-Kunitz (196 points) passed up George Ferguson (195) for 38th place on the franchise's all-time scoring list.