Patrice Bergeron had two goals including a crushing tally midway through the second period as the Boston Bruins (5-1-1) made sure the cardiac kids of Pittsburgh would not mount a comeback for the sixth straight game. Boston absorbed the Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3-1) offensive pressure and comfortably won 4-1 at TD Garden in Boston on Thursday night.
The Penguins had the puck and attempted shots but Boston had the front of the net well defended. Few shots got through and the Penguins scoring chances were often met by Boston defenders.
The Penguins had only 17 shots on goal and nine attempted shots. Boston goalie Jaroslav Halak only had to make 14 saves. According to NaturaStatTrick.com, the Penguins had only two high-danger scoring chances and none in the third period.
“We’ve got to play the game the right way. We’ve got to defend when it’s called upon and not just try to outscore teams,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We weren’t hard to play against tonight.”
The Penguins’ aggressive defensemen strategy was as surprising as it was effective in the first period but it didn’t last. Defensive defenseman Cody Ceci showed surprising hops later in the first period. Trailing 1-0, Ceci held the puck at the blue line and charged into the slot. In a tight space, Ceci flipped from his backhand to forehand and snapped it past Boston goalie Jaroslav Halak.
Boston grinders carried the first period. Six minutes into the game, Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk pinched ahead of Jake Guentzel to take the puck. Grzelcyk’s centering pass was misplayed by Penguins defenseman Kevin Czuczman and Chris Wagner (1) pounded it past Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.
Boston took a 2-1 lead in the final 90 seconds of the first period with some dumb luck. Anders Bjork’s shot bounced through the slot, deflected off Sean Kuraly’s leg, then past Jarry.
The Penguins forwards were responsible on Thursday night, but Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust crossed wires in the middle of the second period. Boston scrambled the Penguins top line and Patrice Bergeron (4) sniped a backhand near the crease for a two-goal lead.
The Penguins have trailed in every game this season and trailed by two goals in six of eight.
“We need to look in the mirror and fight every shift,” Evgeni Malkin said after he criticized himself. “We need to play simple and we need to just work, work, work.”
Bergeron added unneeded insurance with a power-play goal early in the third period. The Boston captain dropped into the slot and powered a one-timer past
One silver lining, Penguins rookie P-O Joseph played over 17 minutes and was otherwise well received with several hits and stellar defensive plays.
Tristan Jarry stopped 16 of 20 in his fourth straight start. The Penguins visit the New York Rangers for two games, Saturday and Monday respectively.
More after the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room availability.