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Penguins vs. Bruins Recap: Poor 2nd sinks Pens in lose to Boston

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The Pittsburgh Penguins hit the road in their last game before the all-star break and take an L in Boston, having no answers for the Bruins first line of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Evgeni Malkin (leg) misses his first game of the season which means that Jake Guentzel gets his first chance in the NHL to play center. Scott Wilson gets a big bump up a couple lines and Tom Kuhnhackl plays for the first time since Jan 14th (and only the 3rd time in 2017). Carter Rowney - who was called up earlier in the day - is a healthy scratch.

1st period

Not much going on early, the Bruins hit a cross-bar on Matt Murray but the puck stays out. Unfortunately for Boston, the puck doesn't stay out when Justin Schultz centers it to Brandon Carlo and he redirects it into the net. This is a problem for them since it's Boston's net. 1-0 Pens on Schultz's 8th of the year.

The tough night for Carlo continues when he goes to the penalty box soon after. That comes back to bite him when Sidney Crosby feeds a cross-ice pass to Phil Kessel who one-times (!!!) a shot into the open net. Not much Tuukka Rask can do there when the league's leading goal scorer in Crosby sets up a shot like that only to make a pinpoint pass. 2-0 Pens.

In the dying seconds of the period, Brad Marchand tries to skate in on Ian Cole who is having NONE of that. This is made more interesting since Marchand was nearly suspended (but only fined) for a slewfoot vs Detroit. Marchand left the ice gingerly in regards to his left leg and it looks like a weird landing.

Shots 13-12 in the period in favor of Boston, but a lucky goal and a well-executed power play has the Penguins up 2-0.

2nd period

Marchand returns after the big hit and scores a short-handed goal on a clean breakaway. 2-1.

Marchand strikes again for his 2nd of the night and 21st of the season after Bergeron wins a clean faceoff from Guentzel, the B's run a set play and Chad Ruhwedel is doing...Well not really much after Murray stops the first shot but kicks the rebound right to Marchand. 2-2.

Things get worse when Riley Nash gets behind Ian Cole and so does the puck. Nash deflects in a Torey Krug shot to make it 3-2 Bruins.

Game devolves into physical ugliness, Kessel (of all people) gets in a scrum with USA Hockey's own David Backes, and then Scott Wilson instigates a fight that he gets beat up in, for some reason.

Goals 3-2 Bruins, shots 29-16 Bruins, scoring chances 14-8 Boston. Pens pretty lucky to still be in the game at this point after a dreadful second period.

3rd period

In the ensuing power play from the Wilson instigator, the Bruins get back on the board with Patrice Bergeron find a loose puck and tossing it top-shelf. 4-2.

The Pens show some life, after the ancient Zdeno Chara misplays a puck behind his net, Chris Kunitz fires out a nice pass to Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist shows nice patience to let the goalie slide out of the way and stuffs it home to make it 4-3.

Pens get one last power play but no dice. Game. Final shots are 37-24 Boston, the Pens continuing to just bleed shots and shot attempts against.

Some Thoughts

  • Interesting to see Conor Sheary replace Malkin on the varsity power play unit. With 17 goals on the season (and crazy Crosby chemistry) it's not a bad call but with Kris Letang still injured, a bit aggressive to stay 4F+1D (Schultz) on the big group.
  • Kuhnhackl gets a rare game in 2017 and makes a bad first impression going to the box himself. Didn't look like much of a penalty, the Bruin tripped when his stick got slashed down on, but so it goes.
  • A tale of two battles: (overall numbers through first period) Nick Bonino 6 wins - 1 loss beat up on David Krejci 2-6....But the other matchup didn't go the Pens way with Crosby 1-6 getting whipped by Patrice Bergeron 7-1.
  • Bergeron overall was just killing the Pens all night in the circle (and all over the ice), winning 23 of 29 faceoffs.
  • Bruins top line was good, Pens got off to a fortunate start in the 1st but then didn't look all that hot. Bruins seemed to wake up for the last 40 minutes. After the first period, the shots were 24-10 for Boston.
  • Hopefully with rest, Brian Dumoulin will continue to improve. Nice of him to come back and gut it out, and Ruhwedel was showing why he's better not in an NHL lineup. Would be nice to see an upgrade in #58, which we likely will for Tuesday.
  • Scott Wilson getting in a fight for little-to-no-reason and then getting tossed from the game and a penalty is really, really dumb in hindsight, as opposed to the initial penalty when it just looked really dumb for him losing the fight.

Well, that stunk, but no Letang, no Malkin, no Cullen. Huge piece of the leadership core of the team. Pittsburgh played like it. Now a few days off for most and a chance to put this one behind them.