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RECAP: Pens get star power, good goaltending in 4-1 win over Bruins

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A classic Pittsburgh Penguin game. 3 points for Sidney Crosby, 2 points for Evgeni Malkin and the goalie comes up huge and the Pens skate to a sixth straight win.

Boston Bruins v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Pregame

The Penguins are using the same lineup as last game, only with Tristan Jarry back in net.

First period

As Steve Mears pointed out on the AT&T Sportsnet broadcast, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy called out his team after a poor effort in a 4-0 loss in their last game.

A good team getting publicly skewered by their coach like that is more than likely going to come out with a hard start and make it a point to show some effort. That was certainly true for Boston tonight, who put 20, yes 20, shots on goal in the first period.

Some of this had to have been emboldened by the game’s first goal, when on a power play defenseman Matt Grzelcyk’s long-range shot just tucks inside the post with Jarry’s vision taken away by Nick Ritchie in front of the net.

The Penguins keep working and score, frankly, two fairly weak goals in the latter part of the period as their quick striking offense continues. From almost the boards, Evan Rodrigues whips a puck on net. It tumbles in, perhaps an unusual way that through Jaroslav Halak and the well-established Penguin nemesis lets it leak by him.

Then it’s Sidney Crosby’s turn. Jake Guentzel lays off a pass for Crosby, recently-claimed-off-waivers Jarred Tinordi was over-committed to Guentzel. That gives Crosby space and from another harsh angle Crosby just fires a hard shot. Halak can’t get over to seal the post and another odd one gets in on him. 2-1 Pens.

Shots are 20-10 Boston. They were shooting from all ranges and distances since Jarry had a problem with traffic, a fairly simple but effective way to show their coach that they were going to be much more engaged than their last loss.

Second period

Pittsburgh gets their first power play of the game early in the period but can’t cash in.

The teams then trade power plays, first Boston gets a chance when Marcus Pettersson clears the puck over the glass but the Pens PK kills it off this time.

The Pens get a second PP when Connor Clifton trips Rodrigues. This time, Pittsburgh scores. Crosby finds Malkin with a cross-ice pass and Malkin walks up and snaps a shot past Halak to make it 3-1.

Clifton goes back to the box soon after for punching Colton Sceviour in the face. The Bruins get the best scoring chance when Jake DeBrusk gets a breakaway but Jarry makes a big save on him.

Shots in the second are 13-8 BOS.

Third period

Clock keeps moving which works for the Pens. Jarry has been very aggressive and well positioned all night. (I think this was going wide anyways, but it’s a nice snag)

Brandon Tanev gets hit in the arm with a shot and is hurt (he returns soon after, because of course he does) but Teddy Blueger takes a penalty. Tough spot for the Pens with one key PKer in the box and another in the room for a bit but they get the kill.

Zboril goes to the box with 3 minutes and change left and the Pens go into time killing mode with Pettersson playing on the top PP and Brian Dumoulin on with the second group to give two defensemen in a safe zone.

Boston kills it off and pulls their goalie, and Guentzel finishes the game with an ENG. 4-1 Pens with 16 seconds left.

Some thoughts

  • As I mentioned in the game preview, with four defensemen on IR and a starting goalie injured, it’s tough times for the Bruins right now. The Penguins can remember those days (well besides the injured goalie) from just a few weeks ago. It’s bound to make a team look worse than they are and make every game an uphill battle. It’s not a sympathetic situation, gotta take advantage when you can, just one of those things that happens over a season with different health situations flaring up at different times.
  • The great thing about the Pens’ power play right now is there’s actually life and movement. Crosby is floating back to the point at times, finding some space. Malkin is all over the ice; left side, right side, down low, up high. When they’re stagnant and just in the same place passing the puck around, it’s not pretty or effective. When they’re exploiting the advantage by moving and finding open areas it’s working out.
  • Speaking of working out, if Malkin wasn’t back, he sure is now. He’s knocking down pucks, skating with his trade mark gallop, shooting often (8 shot attempts in this game, 5 on goal). He’s dekeing and skating through players, he almost put Jakub Zboril on a highlight reel but the backhand shot went just wide. It’s all great things from No. 71, almost like the guy from the first few weeks of the season is completely reinvigorated.
  • I think Boston (and by Boston I mean mostly Patrice Bergeron) won every single power play faceoff they had.
  • Crosby with 1G+2A and Malkin with 1G+1A, the difference makers in the game. Just as they’ve been for so many times in the last 10-15 years. Always great to point it out and appreciate it while it’s around, folks!
  • And you have to add Jarry to the mix as well. 42 saves on 43 shots, the Bruins were heavily volume shooting and just peppering the net when they could, but they were getting traffic and some good looks. Jarry is in the zone big imte.
  • The Pens forwards are doing some work backchecking right now. Everyone feels great in a winning streak and it takes a group effort and right now it’s a hell of an effort. Looks like a hungry, fast, skilled team on most nights as of late.

The rest and recovery this week is going to be of extreme importance, considering this is the first of five games really in about 6.5 days given the upcoming weekend afternoon games. On one hand it’s more or less the same schedule for everyone, but it’s going to be critical that the team does what they can to retain and regenerate their energy and legs because it’s not going to get any easier in the near future. Boston has the same challenge and we’ll see these two teams again tomorrow. Given the form and health of both clubs, that might be an advantage for the Pens that the schedule is going to run it back as soon as possible.