The Boston Bruins (14-8-4) fired shot, after shot, after shot, at the Pittsburgh Penguins (18-9-1) net on Monday night. Goalie Tristan Jarry held firm with 42 saves, and the Penguins earned enough scoring chances to beat Boston 4-1 for the Penguins’ sixth straight win.
The two teams line up again on Tuesday night in the second game of the back-to-backs.
The Penguins lead Boston by five points in the East Division, which exceeds Boston’s two games in hand. The Penguins also lead the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers by six points. The Flyers have two games in hand, but the Penguins have at least a two-point lead for the final playoff spot.
The Penguins may get a couple of faces back in the lineup. According to head coach Mike Sullivan, who spoke via email release, Jared McCann and John Marino participated in the Penguins morning skate and are game-time decisions.
Marino has been a game-time decision twice recently but not played. Mark Friedman is skating but not available on Tuesday. There is no change to Jason Zucker’s status. He remains on IR.
Casey DeSmith will make his ninth start. The Penguins goalie is 6-2-0 with a 2.23 GAA and .923 save percentage.
Boston will counter with 23-year-old, 6-foot-5 rookie Dan Vladar, who will make his NHL debut. I’m sure the Penguins would like to make him feel welcome.
**Update 6:45 p.m.: McCann and Marino are out of the lineup. The Penguins placed Marino in IR retroactice to March 7. Also , Teddy Blueger was a scratch. Sam Lafferty centered the fourth line.
Expected Penguins Lines and Special Teams
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Brad Marchand||Patrice Bergeron||David Pastrnak|
|Taylor Hall||David Krejci||Craig Smith|
|Nick Ritchie||Sean Kuraly||Charlie Coyle|
|Trent Frederic||Curtis Lazar||Chris Wagner|
|Matt Grzelczyk||Charlie McAvoy|
|Mike Reilly||Kevan Miller|
|Jeremy Lauzon||Steve Kampher|
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
What to Watch
The Boston Bruins used the “shoot it” strategy. They fired pucks to the net, not quite indiscriminately but pretty close. The goal was to break down the Penguins defense and zone coverage. It worked, to a degree.
PHN asked Mike Sullivan straight up what he thought about 43 shots against in a 4-1 win.
“Obviously, we prefer not to give up 43 shots, you know, 20 of them were in the first period. The scoring chances were fairly even first period. But what it is, is it’s an indication of where the games being played. Right?
So we would prefer not to give up that many shots if we don’t have to. I thought we defended hard. …. They did get some quality chances. And the ones they did, Tristan was obviously there to make some big saves for us. I thought Tristan. had a great game. But having said that, we would prefer not to give up 43 shots, obviously.”
The Penguins defense bent but didn’t break, though Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel were used sparingly. Boston had a few glorious chances but fanned or missed the net. Such things happen.
Offensively, the Penguins did well to maintain their composure. They had to fight for every pass and every outlet on Monday night. Boston was aggressive in their attack of the Penguins breakouts and backchecked hard.
The Penguins reconstituted skating game was crucial. Watch how often Penguins defensemen have to skate it forward to create space and advance.
The Penguins had to make plays under duress. The Penguins’ skill level allowed them to do so, but it’s a tightrope that’s easy to fall off.
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
*Evgeni Malkin has scored in every game this March, eight straight (4g, 8a).
*The Penguins have won seven consecutive games against the Bruins at home dating back to Dec. 14, 2016.
*The Penguins are 4-1-0 in back-to-backs (3-0-0 the first night; 1-1-0 the second night)
*Jake Guentzel has a four-game goal streak. He can set a career-high on Tuesday night.
*Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry have combined to allow six goals over the last five Penguins games. They’ve stopped 143 of 149 combined shots (.960 SV%). The duo has turned aside 66 of 67 shots (.985 SV%) in the team’s last two games
*With his next win, Mike Sullivan can pass Eddie Johnston for second place on the Penguins all-time wins list.
*The Pittsburgh Penguins are tied for the NHL lead with 12 home wins. The Penguins are 12-2-0 at PPG Paints Arena
How to Watch
AT&T SportsNet, NBCSN;
Radio: 105.9 The X).