April 2 – Day 170 – Would Barclays give a loan to a penguin?

With three goals in the second period, the Bruins exacted the payback they’ve been wanting to dish to the Blues since December, winning in St. Louis 6-5.

It goes down as a comeback victory for the Bruins, as it was Jaden Schwartz and the Blues that scored first at the 14:04 mark, assisted by Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko (his 31st helper of the season).  Boston leveled only 41 seconds later with a Loui Eriksson wrister (his 28th tally of the season), assisted by John-Michael Liles and Zdeno Chara.  With 3:25 remaining in the first period, First Star of the Game David Krejci gave Boston the lead, assisted by Second Star Matt Beleskey (his 22nd helper of the season) and Liles.  The Bruins‘ 2-1 lead held into the intermission.

5:39 after resuming play, Paul Stastny connected on a backhander for his 10 goal of the season, assisted by Magnus Paajarvi to tie the game at two a-piece.  Nine seconds before the halfway point of the period, Beleskey fired a pure slap shot (his 15th tally of the season), assisted by Krejci.  Things really began falling apart for the Blues with 4:33 remaining in the period, as Frank Vaatrano fired a snap shot assisted by Lee Stempniak and Ryan Spooner (his 35th helper of the season). The final goal of the second also belongs to Boston, courtesy of Krejci after assists from Torey Krug (his 35th helper of the season) and Eriksson.  The Bruins‘ 5-2 lead held to the second intermission.

St. Louis tried to stage a valiant comeback in the first, but to no avail.  Their first goal came only 3:56 after returning to the ice from intermission from Robert Bortuzzo, assisted by David Backes and Stastny (his 36th helper of the season).  3:42 later, Alex Pietrangelo connected on a backhander after assists from Third Star Alexander Steen (his 33rd helper of the season) and Troy Brouwer.  The eventual game-winner for the Bruins finally found the back of the net at the 16:36 mark on a power play wrister from Patrice Bergeron, assisted by Krug and Krejci (his 43rd helper of the season).  It became a game winner because of a goal from Kevin Shattenkirk, assisted by Backes (his 23rd helper of the season) and Brouwer, with only 21 seconds to go, but the Blues were not able to avoid losing 6-5.

Tuukka Rask earns the win after saving 25 of 30 shots faced (83.3%), while Jake Allen takes the loss after saving 4 of 5 (80%).  He replaced starter Brian Elliott after during the second intermission after he saved 18 of 23 (78.3%).

Boston‘s win snaps the home winning streak at four games, but the home team still has a 78-44-18 record over the road squads in the DtFR Game of the Day series, leading them by 37 points.

Happy Saturday hockey fans!  With only a week remaining, there’s not only a lot of games, but a lot of important ones on the schedule!  Today’s action gets underway nice and early at 1 p.m. eastern with two contests (Pittsburgh at the New York Islanders [SN] and Ottawa at Philadelphia [RDS]), with Dallas at Los Angeles (SN1) at 4 p.m. eastern being the only other matinee of the day.  Five games drop the puck at 7 p.m. eastern (Detroit at Toronto [NHLN/CBC/CITY], New Jersey at Tampa Bay, Montréal at Florida [TVAS/SN], Buffalo at the New York Rangers [BELL TV] and Columbus at Carolina), with San Jose at Nashville trailing an hour later.  Tonight’s co-nightcaps drop the puck at 10 p.m. eastern (Washington at Arizona and Calgary at Edmonton [CBC/SN]).

There’s five divisional rivalries being played today (Pittsburgh at New York, Detroit at Toronto, Montréal at Florida, Columbus at Carolina and Calgary at Edmonton), while three are being contested between playoff qualifiers (Pittsburgh at New York, Dallas at Los Angeles and San Jose at Nashville).

Only one of those games was in both lists, so you know where we’re headed!

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoNew York Islanders LogoToday’s game is Pittsburgh‘s 16th in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 7-7-1 record.  Their most recent appearance was Sunday, when they won 3-2 in overtime at the other arena in the Big Apple.  New York was last featured March 25 when they fell 7-4 in Tampa Bay.  That loss set their series record at 2-5-1 in eight appearances.

The 44-25-8 Pittsburgh Penguins are currently the second best team in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference.  To get to that position, they’ve played the fourth best offense in the league, backed by the seventh best defense.  A statistical breakdown of the Pens‘ game can be found within Sunday’s article.

The Penguins are currently riding a four game winning streak, with their most recent being a 5-2 win over the visiting Predators Thursday night.  A Pittsburgh win today ensures that the Rangers cannot succeed them for second place in the division for at least another day, as the Pens must plan for New York beating Buffalo.

The 42-25-9 New York Islanders currently rank fourth best in the Metropolitan Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  To get to that position, they’ve played a very well rounded game, as they rank 10th best on either end of the ice.

Led by John Tavares’ 237 shots, New York has fired the puck 2261 times, with 9.2% finding the back of the net for 214 goals (led by Tavares’ 29 tallies), the 10th most in the league.  The special teams haven’t provided too much help towards that cause, successful on 19.34% of attempts for 41 power play goals (led by Anders Lee’s eight extra man tallies), the 15th worst rate in the NHL.

Even with Calvin de Haan’s 189 blocks, the Islanders have allowed 2295 shots to reach 21-11-4 Thomas Greiss and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.2% for only 196 goals against, the 10th fewest in the NHL.  New York‘s true special team strength has been on the penalty kill, where they neutralize 85.51% of their infractions for only 31 power play goals against, the second best rate in the league.

New York enters today’s game riding a three game winning streak, with their most recent being Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets.  With a win today, the Islanders have a chance to jump the Rangers for second in the division, but they will need some help from the Sabres for that to happen.

Pittsburgh leads the season series 2-1-0 before this deciding Game 4, with the last meeting occurring March 15 in Pittsburgh, a Penguins 2-1 shootout victory.

Some players to keep an eye on include New York‘s Greiss (.924 save percentage [tied for fifth best in the league]) or Jaroslav Halak (2.3 GAA [10th best in the league]) & Pittsburgh‘s Sidney Crosby (80 points [third most in the league], 48 assists [seventh most in the league] and 32 goals [tied for ninth most in the league]), Marc-Andre Fleury (35 wins [tied for fourth most in the league], five shutouts [tied for fourth most in the league], .921 save percentage [tied for eighth best in the league] and 2.29 GAA [ninth best in the league]), Chris Kunitz (+30 [third best in the league]) and Olli Maatta (+27 [tied for fourth best in the league]).

I know that this game is taking place in Brooklyn, but I’m feeling a Penguins winner today.  They are peaking at the right time, and have played just short of unstoppable.

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