Who: Boston Bruins (58-12-5, 121 points, 1st place Atlantic Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (37-28-10, 84 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division)
When: 3:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: National broadcast on ABC | ESPN+
Opponent Track: The Bruins are on the warpath. They have won eight of their last nine games, with their most recent victory coming 2-1 over the Blue Jackets in overtime at home on Thursday to clinch the 2023 Presidents’ Trophy with their franchise-record 58th win of the season.
“It’s awesome to be part of this team. There’s three trophies in this league and we got one of them right now, but the other two are the ones we’re really going for, so it feels good. It feels cool to be a part of an historic franchise - and to have your name a part of that and this team is pretty cool.” —Bruins forward Trent Frederic after Thursday’s win, via NHL.com
Pens Path Ahead: The Penguins complete this weekend’s back-to-back set tomorrow, when they face the Philadelphia Flyers at home. That will bring them even in games played with the Florida Panthers, so when the dust settles, we’ll see which team holds the wild card spot heading into the final stretch.
Bryan Rust, on Saturday's matchup vs. Boston: "We obviously all know what’s going on in the standings… I think we know what’s at stake. And I think just coming in with the right mindset, knowing the opponent we’re up against, and knowing it’s going to be a tall task.”— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) March 31, 2023
Season Series: The Pens have yet to win against the Bruins this season (if it’s any comfort, they’re certainly not the only team that can say that.) On November 1, the Penguins blew a three-goal lead and went to overtime, where Hampus Lindholm won it for visiting Boston, 6-5. On January 2, a Kasperi Kapanen goal was undone by two Jake DeBrusk tallies in the third period, and Pittsburgh lost 2-1 at Fenway Park.
Hidden Stat: The Bruins have proved to be virtually unbeatable after scoring the first goal. They’ve only lost one such game on the road, and it happened in overtime (16-0-1.) Overall, when striking first, Boston is 38-1-3. Moral of the story: score early, score first. (Sure, that didn’t help the Penguins in their last matchup with the Bruins, but let’s try it again.)
Getting to know the Bruins
SBN partner blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder
Potential Game Lines
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jake DeBrusk
Pavel Zacha - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Tyler Bertuzzi - Charlie Coyle - Trent Frederic
Jakub Lauko - Tomas Nosek - Garnet Hathaway
Dmitry Orlov / Charlie McAvoy
Hampus Lindholm / Brandon Carlo
Jakub Zboril / Connor Clifton
Goalies: Jeremy Swayman, Linus Ullmark
Scratches: AJ Greer, Oskar Steen, Matt Grzelcyk, Derek Forbort (lower body)
IR: Nick Foligno (lower body), Taylor Hall (lower body, day-to-day), Matt Filipe (lower body)
- Although TSN’s Darren Dreger said earlier this week that the Bruins would call up Taylor Hall from the injured reserve if it weren’t for salary cap constraints, Boston head coach Jim Montgomery called the report “false” and said Hall has not yet been cleared to play.
- Nick Foligno returned to Bruins practice in a no-contact sweater earlier this week.
- At 53 goals and 46 assists, red-hot David Pastrnak is one tally away from the first 100-point season of his career.
Pastrnak turns on the jets. pic.twitter.com/yvFN0HFoQ7— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 31, 2023
- For the first time in two months, Linus Ullmark made consecutive starts for the Bruins this week. Boston has recently alternated games evenly between the members of stellar goaltending duo, but Montgomery told Boston.com giving Ullmark three starts in six days would help replicate the playoff crunch and give Swayman a chance “to get some games of the back end.” Because of that, the Penguins are likely to face Swayman, who through his last four starts is undefeated with two shutouts.
Just an absurd couple of stops from Jeremy Swayman: pic.twitter.com/6vBqyeBGQ1— Evan Marinofsky (@EvanMarinofsky) March 24, 2023
And now for the Pens...
Friday Practice Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen - Ryan Poehling - Mikael Granlund
Drew O’Connor - Jeff Carter - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
P.O. Joseph / Jeff Petry
Mark Friedman / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith
Scratches: Alex Nylander, Jan Rutta (injured)
IR: Dmitry Kulikov (week-to-week, lower-body injury), Nick Bonino (week-to-week, lacerated kidney), Marcus Pettersson (lower body)
- Jan Rutta joined Friday’s practice in a no-contact jersey.
- Tristan Jarry seemed to settle back into the starter’s seat on Thursday by holding steady in his shutout of the Predators. It would make sense for the Penguins to put him back in net tonight, and save tomorrow’s contest versus the much weaker Flyers for Casey DeSmith to (hopefully) bounce back against.
- Malkin extended his home point streak with an assist on Jason Zucker’s goal against Nashville.
Home point streak = extended— Penguins PR (@PenguinsPR) March 31, 2023
Evgeni Malkin has points in his last 10 home games dating back to February 23. In that span, only Clayton Keller (20) and Connor McDavid (17) have more home points than Malkin's 16. pic.twitter.com/9docVd5cfk
- There’s more to this matchup than just a fight for another precious two points in the neck-and-neck wild-card race with the Florida Panthers. The Bruins will be facing the No. 2 wild card team in the playoffs. If the Penguins qualify for the postseason, they’ll be seeing Boston— a team they have yet to beat this season— again. A win tonight would mark one of the most significant of 2022-23.