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Sunday, 02 June 2013 10:38

Bruins Put Chill On Penguins, Grab 1-0 Series Lead

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Jerome Iginla, Kris Letang and a host of offensive roll players who scored at almost a five goal a game clip in the playoffs.  They are supposed to be an offensive juggernaut that blows through opponents on the way to meeting Chicago for the cup.

The Boston Bruins have Tuukka Rask.  That's plenty good for them.

Sure, David Krejci had two goals, Nathan Horton had a goal and two assists and Andrew Ference bumped Matt Bartkowski from the homecoming lineup but the real story was the guy wearing the number 40 sweater between the pipes.

Rask was under siege in the first period, facing 11 shots which all seemed to come in the first 12 minutes.  From puck drop, he Pens swarmed around the offensive zone with good puck movement and defensive pinches to keep the pressure on.  Rask tracked the puck well and moved confidently in the crease, always in the right positions so if he didn't see the shot, it hit him or was forced wide.

Frustration boiled over for Pitt at the end of the second when Crosby had a few choice words to say to Tuukka as Rask was skating to the bench and followed up with a little bump and check.  Zdeno Chara, not being one who takes kindly to liberties being taken with his goalie, politely told Crosby after bending over eight inches that he, "will effing die."  Transcripts of on ice conversation were not made available, but my expert lip reading from watching Kevin Garnett for five years came in handy.  

The refs predictably swarmed on those two while Malkin and Patrice Bergeron inexplicably dropped the gloves.  Unclear as to what started it, Geno and Bergy traded gloved punches to the face before shaking them off and having a wrestling match that ended with Malkin throwing punches on the ice on top of Bergeron.  Both were given five minute majors for the start of the third period which was about as bad a trade off for Boston as they could have had.  Bergy kills penalties, is on the second powerplay unit and wins faceoffs, Malkin is score and that's about it.

With the Pens on the power play to start the third from a Brad Marchand two minute boarding penalty (which was controversial, but only in the length of penalty and not whether it was one or not) and only down one, the Energy Arena was just as loud as the name would suggest.  Rask again stood on his head and denied shot after shot, taking the momentum back as the Bruins penalty kill once again found its way and shook off all man advantages for the game.

Krejci scored three minutes after the kill after Horton sprung him into the offensive zone.  Krejci flung a shot towards the net from the high slot and beat his man to the rebound that had popped up over Thomas Vokoun and stuffed it in the back of the net for the two goal lead.  Just three minutes after that, another Penguins defensive breakdown left Lucic and Horton all alone in front of the net after a shot from Gregory Campbell who was playing up lines because Bergeron was still in the box for fighting.  The shot bounced off of Vokoun's right pad right onto the stick of Horton who had all the time in the world to bury the shot into the goal cam with the net minder down.  That was the dagger that sent the fans to the exits.

The NBC and CBC commentator's seemed to rump swab their darling Penguins (it's often joked that Canada has seven teams, with Pittsburgh being the +1) for most of the evening until Krejci potted his second goal of the night and extended his league leading postseason points to 19.  Pittsburgh fans deflated after that goal and the team lost control of their emotions.  With as crazy Tuukka Rask is after the whistle blows to end games, the Pens tried to rattle his cage during the game.  Tuukka was unflappable and seemed to relish the moment, noticeably smirking after robbing Crosby of an open net chance.

Krejci got the party started for Boston on a soft slapper in the first that found its way under Douglas Murray who had slid too block it and then five hole on Vokoun.  Matt Cooke was given a game misconduct and a five minute major for boarding Adam McQuaid in the start of the second but that penalty was down to three minutes after Chris Kelley took one for roughing Cooke.  It was probably Cooke's history with the Bruins that lead to hi getting the quick hook and is reported today not to be facing any supplemental discipline from the league.

Boston entered the game allowing Pittsburgh to dictate a frenetic up and down pace and would have lost had they not found their own game and stuck with it.  The Penguins tried to be the more pysical team in the game and for a while they were, but the Bruins proved to be the more disciplined team on the night.  With that, Boston accomplished snatching home ice away from the Eastern Conference leaders and now look to grab the second game in the Burgh on Monday.

Highlights of the game found just before the comments on this page.