Nine is better than eight- Neal, Malkin help Pens thump Bruins 5-2

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 11: Marty Turco #1 of the Boston Bruins makes a kick save on Craig Adams #27 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on March 11, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Penguins defeated the Bruins 5-2. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The Penguins used the same formula they've had for much of the season to defeat the Boston Bruins 5-2 in a Sunday matinee game. The Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal line generated multiple goals, Marc-Andre Fleury made several great saves, the checkers checked, the grinders grind-ed (?) and the defenders defend. Rinse, repeat, another workman-like win for Pittsburgh. Some more thoughts on the game: -The Bruins played yesterday (a 4-3 loss in Boston to the Capitals) and it showed early. Their legs didn't seem quite up to speed and they took some penalties. Pittsburgh took advantage of this opportunity and jumped up 3-0 before the end of the first stanza, which would signal the premature end of Tim Thomas (who did play yesterday). -The Bruins stabliaed a little in the second, David Krejci (the most dangerous B in the game) scored a pair of goals in between a Kunitz tally to signal the end of the scoring until Pascal Dupuis' late game ending and very sweet dangle to the backhand. -It could have gotten out of hand without the play of Marty Turco. The vet goalie made his first appearance in a Boston jersey in quite a spot, down three and on the road. But he jumped right in and made several quality saves (including an unbelievable flying toe save on Jordan Staal) to give him team a chance. -But they wouldn't come any closer than 2, given the stellar play of Fleury who matched Turco with some pretty saves of his own to keep Pittsburgh in the lead. -Possible talk with Brendan Shanahan coming for Malkin? In the 3rd Malkin boarded defenseman Johnny Boychuck. On one hand, it was a dangerous play and Malkin was penalized. On the other hand, no injury was suffered and it was more of a play for the puck then some of the suspendable hits we've seen (like Kris Letang's suspension earlier this season). Who knows where the wheel of justice will land, but it's never good to see hits like this happen. -After chatter was starting to start up about James Neal's lack of scoring recently, Nealer was arguably the best player on the ice, tallying a goal and two assists, including a sublime cross-ice pass for Kunitz's goal. Big time game from a big time player. -And just think, the Penguins did all of this without arguably (maybe?) the best player in the game, who's return is on the horizon. And they controlled the play without their two best puck moving defensemen in Letang and Paul Martin. All of this in a 5-2 thumping of the defending Stanley Cup champs. Just another flash of how special and dangerous this team could be, with the caveat of good health in the future. Don't look now, but Pittsburgh's now on a 9 game winning streak and two points back of the New York Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division and #1 seed in the Eastern Conference (though NYR does have one game in hand). And now it's a few days of R&R for the Pens, who'll jet to Manhattan for what's sure to be an intense playoff-like atmosphere against those very Rangers.



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