Bruins take two for the road, spank Pens in Game 2
Has anyone seen the Pittsburgh Penguins? The supposed super team that was seemingly a lock for the Stanley Cup Finals hasn’t really shown up in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals as Boston won Game 2 last night, 6-1, at CONSOL Energy Center. The Bruins take a 2-0 series lead back to Boston with Game 3 tomorrow (8 p.m., NBCSN) at TD Garden. Since 1967, when the NHL expanded, no team has reached the Stanley Cup Finals after losing the first two games of the conference finals on their home ice.
In the first two games, the Bruins have outscored the Penguins 9-1. Tuukka Rask (26 saves) didn’t get another shutout like Game 1 but that’s about all that didn’t go right for the B’s. Boston never really let Pittsburgh settle into this one as Brad Marchand scored 28 seconds into the first period with a breakaway and goal. Nathan Horton and David Krejci made it 3-0 later in the first period, forcing Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma to pull Tomas Vokoun (9 saves) in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury (14 saves) but it didn’t matter since Pittsburgh’s defense was in shambles. Brandon Sutter broke Rask’s 128 minute shutout streak going back to Game 5 vs. Rangers but that was the Penguins’ only highlight.
Marchand’s second goal was the back-breaker as it put Boston up 4-1 25 seconds after Sutter’s tally, with only nine seconds left in the first period. After a scoreless second period, Patrice Bergeron got on the board with another early goal for the B’s – 27 seconds into the third – and Johnny Boychuk added the final nail in garbage time. In your wildest dreams, you couldn’t have imagined that Boston would dominate Pittsburgh so much on the road in the first two games. Now they come home with a chance to win two games at the Garden and reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in three years.
What they’ll be saying: The Penguins hadn’t lost back-to-back games at home since the opening two games of the 2013 regular season. What’s more, Pittsburgh hadn’t dropped consecutive games in this postseason until now.
The Bruins still have plenty of work to do to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals but it’s hard to find anything to complain about in Boston’s two fantastic performances in the Eastern Conference Finals, on the road no less. Tuukka Rask has been the best player on the ice while the Penguins’ goaltending situation is nothing short of a disaster (shades of Vancouver in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals) since both Vokoun and Fleury gave up three goals in Game 2. Don’t ask me which of those guys gets the start in Game 3.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Jarome Iginla, Kris Letang, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz have combined for zero points so far in this series. It’s the first time in this postseason that Crosby has been held scoreless in back-to-back games. Conversely, Patrice Bergeron (1 goal, 1 assist), Johnny Boychuk (1 goal, 1 assist), Nathan Horton (1 goal, 1 assist), Jaromir Jagr (2 assists) and Brad Marchand (2 goals) all had multiple points in Game 2 alone for the Bruins.
Rask was the story in Game 1 but Game 2 was more typical of Boston’s wins, it was a teamwide effort with everyone making positive contributions. The B’s have won 22 of 29 best-of-seven series when leading 2-0. Finally, David Krejci (8 goals, 12 assists) continued to put up points as he still leads the NHL in playoff scoring after another beautiful goal in Game 2.
Follow Metro Bruins beat writer Rich Slate on Twitter @RichSlate