Boston fans wanted blood. Riled by the media to avenge the injured Marc Savard, many suggested an out and out sideshow of violence, fights, blood and targeting the Pittsburgh Penguins' skill players. But on a night where the Boston Bruins honored their 1970 Stanley Cup team, the modern day Bruins team played like they were actually 70. The B's registered just 17 shots on goal (at one point shots in the 2nd period were 12-0 Pittsburgh) and pretty much laid down and died.
As expected, Matt Cooke was challenged to a fight as soon as he stepped on the ice. And, to Cooke's credit, he immediately accepted the dance invitation with Shawn Thornton. Thornton's a much bigger player and he's got 19 fights on the season. Cooke can be called a lot of things, but at least he dropped 'em with the right guy in the right way.
Tyler Kennedy scored the games first goal 8:34 into it. He took a pass from Ruslan Fedotenko and the two went up ice on a 2-on-1. TK shot and scored for his first goal in 19 games. This really seemed to take the air out of Boston's balloon. The Bruins have a league low 174 goal (rate of just 2.49 per game) and even a one-goal deficit seemed insurmountable to them. It wasn't of course, that's just how their body language and general effort level looked through the television.
Zdeno Chara, the B's captain, seemed to try and turn the tide and keep his boys (and the crowd) in the game by dropping the mits about halfway through the second with Mike Rupp. It was a spirited bout, but it didn't have the intended result of bringing the Bruins out of their slumber.
Just before the second period ended the Penguins worked a power play and just as it expired Kris Letang took a point shot that Alexei Ponikarovsky re-directed. Going into the room down 2-0 really seemed to floor Boston that much more.
Rupp delivered the dagger when he rushed the puck on his off-wing and sniped a nice shot by Tuukka Rask. The game was decided and the seconds ticked off the clock for Marc-Andre Fleury (and the entire Penguins team) to get their first shutout in the 71st game of the season.
- Most thought Boston might "goon it up" in the dying minutes of the game, but they didn't. Should we give them props for not trying anything cheap or bush league? Yeah, sure. But they showed very little emotion almost all night long, somewhat surprisingly.
- Given that performance, I don't think Boston is going to make the playoffs this season -- with out without Marc Savard. Write that down as an official prediction on 3/18. They looked like they barely cared out there. Not just about playing physical or exacting revenge but also in trying to score goals.
- The Penguins power play, minus injured Evgeni Malkin, looked pretty sharp. They had some excellent puck movement, nice positioning and took 9 shots on the evening. A good performance, well as good of a performance from them that didn't result in actually scoring.
- And the reason the PP didn't convert (though UPT's goal basically qualifies) was mainly Rask. He played really well and kept his team close for a long time. He'd probably want the Rupp goal back, but by that point the game was pretty much out of hand anyways.
- All three goals off the stick of wingers. As mention, TK hadn't scored since the 6th grade picnic and for Rupp it was just his second goal in 26 games. Getting goals that the big guns don't have a hand is a great thing.
- Cooke was quiet after his early fight but he took a pretty foolish tripping call in the first when he flew-by Dennis Seidenberg and with the defender's back turned Cooke took out his legs. Not wise.
- Congrats to Fleury and the Pens defense for keeping it tight and shutting down all Boston's attacks. Sure it wasn't a juggernaut, but a shutout is a shutout.
- Tonight the Penguins did a lot better getting pucks deep, always going forward, making smart passes and good decisions. That's about the polar opposite than the first half of last night's game when an opportunistic New Jersey team took seemingly every bad choice the Pens made and got breakaways.
Now the circus is over. No more Matt Cooke in Boston for quite a while (unless they somehow make the playoffs). The Pens don't get too much time to recover, a day game at home against Carolina awaits. Wait, what? That's right the road-trip is over, and at 2-2-1 there was some moderate success, two disappointing and potentially costly regulation losses in jersey and the uncertainy of Evgeni Malkin's foot/leg. But also a shutout and some good performances along the way.