The Pittsburgh Penguins won their fifth game in a row and their first regulation win since 2013 as they blanketed the Boston Bruins for most of the 60 minutes. The Penguins defensemen and depth players lit the lamp as the Penguins achieved a three-way tie atop the MassMutual East Division with a 4-1 win over Boston at the TD Garden.
The Penguins allowed a season-low two shots in the first period. Yes, the Penguins allowed only two shots. Worse for Boston, the Penguins were skating circles around the other black and gold.
Two shots against.
That’s how you break a seven-year drought in Boston.
“That’s one of those streaks that everyone’s aware of in our room, and something we’ve been harping on for a while,” Jason Zucker said. “Especially this season, knowing the divisions and having to play four games in this building is tough. Huge to get that monkey off our backs.”
However, it took until early in the second period before anyone put a number on the scoreboard, and it was the Penguins third line that lit the lamp.
Brandon Tanev, who played in his first game since March 18, took the puck away on a backcheck and quickly transitioned to offense. Center Frederick Gaudreau charged the net. So too did Zach Aston-Reese. Gaudreau tied up on defender, so the pass got through to Aston-Reese on the back post. Aston-Reese (8) tied a career-high when he deflected it into an open net.
“It’s been a lot of fun. The boys are playing really good hockey right now. We’re playing defense first. And, you know, it’s all the cliches you talk about, you know, defending hard playing in front of your net and not blocking shots and things like that,” Aston-Reese said. “But we’re doing all the little cliches and that’s what’s making it fun.”
The teams didn’t exactly burn out pixels on the scoreboard. Halfway through the game, the shot clock was 10-8 for the Penguins. However, how each got there was entirely different. The Penguins had more missed shots and blocked shots as Boston retreated.
Mike Matheson (3) put the Penguins up by two later in the second period. There was no chance to block the shot as Matheson raced the length of the ice, blew past Boston defenseman Jeremy Lauzon on a breakaway, and tucked the puck between Dan Vladar’s pads.
The Penguins scored their second goal on their 11th shot.
Boston scored and gained a jolt of energy with eight minutes remaining. Brad Marchand (14) slipped undetected into the Penguins zone on the Boston rush and snapped a wrister off the post and in.
However, less than two minutes later, Evan Rodrigues and Jason Zucker hooked up in transition. The Penguins created a turnover at the red line for a two-on-one. Rodrigues fed Zucker (5), who banged it into the open net.
Jake Guentzel (15) scored the empty netter.
Casey DeSmith was solid and stopped 30 of 31 shots. Boston goalie Dan Vladar, who made his third career start, stopped 19 of 22 shots.