Still feels like a minor win already when the Penguins can use the same lineup two games in a row with the way injuries have gone this season. They do for this game.
Sidney Crosby’s line starts the game, and whaddya, Sidney Crosby opens scoring just 24 seconds into the contest. Nice shot-block and recovery by Jack Johnson who records his 300th career NHL point on the play by getting the puck to Domink Simon. Simon makes a really nice pass to hit Sid in space, and Crosby unleashes the clap bomb that somehow eludes Jaroslav Halak. Hard to feel bad for Halak, he still owes the Pens about 50 easy goals.
Sidney Crosby's return has been nothing short of stellar.— NHL (@NHL) January 17, 2020
Four points in his first game back, one so far tonight. pic.twitter.com/CmQj5mqGzE
Then the Pittsburgh parade to the penalty box begins. After Charlie MacAvoy tried to take a run at Brandon Tanev, Zach Aston-Reese just like, approached MacAvoy and somehow took a penalty for it. The Pens kill it off, but then John Marino throws a very bad hit in a dangerous area and draws a deserving boarding call. (Though the refs excuse every Bruins player then scrumming it up). The Pens kill that one off too for good measure.
Kris Letang and Chris Wagner then get taken off the ice for roughing each other as the B’s are in a cantankerous mood a game after their starting goalie was punched in the head and concussed.
Nothing comes of that, but Sean Kuraly gets the neutralizer when he fires the puck in towards the net on the rush and it hits off Jack Johnson’s leg and goes in. 1-1.
Boston takes the lead, they catch the Pens on an icing, win a faceoff, then a puck battle and then Karson Kuhlman makes a shot/pass for Par Lindholm to tip in past Tristan Jarry to make it 2-1 B’s.
Shots in the first end up 12-10 Boston.
The Pens get a couple of power plays early in the period but it really derails their momentum as they squander any chance of evening the score, and worse, spend a lot of time struggling in their own end.
The chippiness continues as Torey Krug and Patric Hornqvist mix it up, get sent to the penalty box and then get into a fight upon getting out of it. Don’t see that every day.
Towards the end of the period the Bruins appear to score again, but it’s negated by Patrice Bergeron clearly uses his glove to knock a puck out of mid-air and that’s against the rules. But Boston got an unrelated power play out of the deal.
It would be Pittsburgh getting the best chance with a clear-cut 2-on-0. Unfortunately Halak has reverted to his soul-stealing form and slams the door shut on Bryan Rust and then Zach Aston-Reese.
HAVE to score on a 2 on 0. You just have to. Halak holding strong tonight pic.twitter.com/4tHx3TrQKq— Nick Maraldo (@nickmaraldo) January 17, 2020
Shots in the second period were 12-10 Boston, identical to the first period. 2-1 on the scoreboard.
The Bruins extend the lead by scoring on the rush, Rust can’t quite track with Patrice Bergeron who receives a reaaally good pass from David Pastrnak to add to the score at 3-1 early on.
Not much going on after that, which isn’t a good thing for the road team that’s trailing.
The Pens get popped for too many men but kill it off.
Boston puts in an empty netter but it doesn’t really kill any suspense of the result when there wasn’t any suspense on this night anyways. 4-1 final.
Give the dads something to cheer about. Per the stat on the AT&T Sportsnet broadcast tonight, Pittsburgh falls all-time to 11-7-3 with the annual fathers/mentors trips over the years. Other than the Crosby goal early this was just a quiet one for Pittsburgh. Halak had a few good stops there but really Pittsburgh didn’t seem to find a lot of energy or momentum. Sometimes that happens in a long season. When it happens in the fifth game after winning the last four it’s a lot more palatable.
Pens fail to match intensity. As Bob Errey on the broadcast mentioned several times, the Bruins players were challenged openly in the media, by fans and surely by their coaches too about being more physical after not much response to their goalie Rask getting hurt last game. That challenge was accepted as the B’s played a physical, chippy game all over the ice. The Pens didn’t look ready for that.
Feisty players absent from making impacts. So you would think that type of nasty, intense game would be right up Hornqvist’s alley. But the Swede ended up the night only playing 11 minutes and change (in part due to sitting in the box for his fight), getting in that fight, ending up on ice for 3 goals against, 0 goals for, 3 SOG, 4 hits. When No. 72 ends up not getting much going in a game literally tailor-made for his style, you can bet it didn’t end well. Same for guys like Tanev, Aston-Reese, Blueger and Rust who all had great looks on odd-man rushes at points, and all failed to score. It happens, but when it does, the team probably doesn’t win when their spark plugs aren’t getting it done and on the other side players like Kuraly and Lindholm are finding the back of the net.
Tough game in a place where the Pens haven’t won since 2014 and just can’t seem to find much traction. It seemed like it might have been their night when Crosby scored on the opening shift, but then they couldn’t beat Halak again for the rest of the night. Sometimes it B’s like that. Pittsburgh has to regroup quickly and get to Detroit, but that is the good news since the 32-regulation-loss Red Wings are by far the worst team on the circuit this season. And that’s as good a way to flush this bad result and try to bounce back as you’ll be able to find at the NHL level.