BOSTON — Pittsburgh was without its three most talented offensive players (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal) and starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury got the day off but the Penguins still managed to beat the Bruins 3-2 Saturday at TD Garden to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh (34-10-0) has won six games in a row and it the season series (3-0-0) with Boston (26-12-5).
The Bruins outshot the Penguins 40-24 and won 14 more faceoffs (43-29) but that didn’t translate to enough goals for two points. In fact, it was basically 3-1 since Tyler Seguin scored with just three seconds left in the contest.
Pittsburgh scored a pair of power-play goals less than four minutes apart in the second period that turned out to be the difference. Brad Marchand gave Boston a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal midway through the first period as Tomas Vokoun (38 saves) got a piece of it but the puck went in.
Jussi Jokinen (2 assists) tied it for the Penguins early in the second period with a diving backhander after a loose puck in front of Tuukka Rask (21 saves). Jarome Iginla and Kris Letang had the power play strikes for Pittsburgh as Boston shot itself in the foot with penalties. Rask will likely take the brunt of the fault on the Iginla goal as the puck went through his five hole, while Letang’s score was more on Boston’s defense as he was able to walk into a good shooting lane.
Boston is winless in its last four games (0-3-1) but it has a great chance to end its worst streak of the season, hosting Florida (13-25-6) Sunday (12:30 p.m., NESN) back at the Garden. The Panthers come in with the worst record in the NHL.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate