NHL Nick's Net

Penguins complete comeback in first meeting with Boston this season

Danton Heinen scored a pair of goals in his first game back at TD Garden as a member of the visiting team since he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie on Feb. 24, 2020, while Sidney Crosby scored the eventual game-winning goal and Bryan Rust added an empty net goal to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Boston Bruins, 4-2, on Tuesday night.

Heinen signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent on July 29, 2021, after spending parts of two seasons with Anaheim. The Ducks opted not to tender a qualifying offer to the then would have been-restricted free agent.

Meanwhile, Tristan Jarry (24-8-6, 2.21 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in 38 games played) made a season-high 43 saves on 45 shots against in the win for the Penguins.

Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (8-7-2, 2.35 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 18 games played) stopped 21 out of 24 shots faced in the loss.

David Pastrnak had a pair of goals in Boston’s loss and Patrice Bergeron exited the game midway through the third period with an upper body injury induced by what was deemed as an “incidental” trip (as there was no penalty on the play) by Crosby.

The B’s will likely be without Brad Marchand in their next matchup as a result of his antics in the final minute of the action, but more on that after as we recap some roster news and notes from the All Star break to Tuesday night’s loss.

But first, a quick standings update.

Boston fell to 26-15-3 (55 points) overall, but still holds on to 4th place in the Atlantic Division as well as the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh improved to 28-11-8 (64 points) on the season and in command of 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division standings.

The B’s fell to 0-1-0 against the Pens this season after amassing a 5-3-0 record in their regular season series in 2020-21, as well as a 2-1-0 record against Pittsburgh in 2019-20.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Trent Frederic (upper body), Tuukka Rask (lower body) and Urho Vaakanainen (upper body) on Tuesday, while Nick Foligno and Erik Haula made their return to the lineup.

Foligno took Anton Blidh’s spot on the fourth line left wing, while Haula resumed his role as the second line center with Tomáš Nosek returning to his fourth line job.

As a result of the lineup changes and in accordance with the league’s rules on temporary taxi squads up until the All Star break, Steven Fogarty, Tyler Lewington and Jesper Frödén were reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL).

On defense, Connor Clifton took over Vaakanainen’s spot on the third pairing alongside Derek Forbort.

Frederic, Rask, Vaakanainen, Zboril and Blidh made up Boston’s list of injured players and healthy scratches against the Penguins.

During the first intermission The Athletic‘s, Fluto Shinzawa, reported that Rask’s comeback from offseason hip surgery was likely coming to an end and that the 34-year-old goaltender is considering a retirement announcement in the next few days.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, offered no update on Rask’s status after the game other than reiterating that Rask will be unavailable for the week and any decisions that may suggest retirement would come from Rask– not as a team directive.

If Rask is, in fact, retiring, he would do so as Boston’s winningest goaltender in franchise history, amassing 308 wins in 564 career NHL games– all with the Bruins– since making his league debut in 2007-08.

In that 15-season span, Rask would finish with a career goals-against average of 2.28 and a career save percentage of .921 in about 32,405 minutes played– the most by any Boston goaltender in club history, while ranking second in shutouts (52) to Tiny Thompson’s 74.

He also served as the backup netminder on the 2011 Stanley Cup champion roster and backstopped Boston to two more Final appearances in 2013, and 2019.

Almost two minutes into the opening frame, Radim Zohorna tripped up Charlie Coyle and cut a rut to the penalty box at 1:40 of the first period as result.

It didn’t take Boston long to convert on the ensuing power play, as Brian Boyle botched an indirect pass up the boards intended for John Marino that was instead snagged by Bergeron as the Bruins captain kept the rubber biscuit in the attacking zone.

Bergeron worked a pass up to Taylor Hall, who set up Pastrnak (23) for a one-timer goal from one knee at the faceoff dot– giving the B’s a, 1-0, lead at 2:01 of the first period in the process.

Hall (20) and Bergeron (23) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal.

A few minutes later, Jake DeBrusk hooked Dominik Simon and presented the Penguins with their first power play of the night at 5:27.

Boston’s penalty kill stood tall, however, and killed off DeBrusk’s minor.

Late in the period, the Pens turned the puck over in their attacking zone– rendering a de facto 3-on-1 opportunity for the Bruins as Haula sent a pass to Hall through the zone before Hall’s shot generated a rebound whereby Pastrnak (24) batted the puck out of mid-air and under Jarry’s glove.

Boston took a, 2-0, lead courtesy of Pastrnak’s 40th career two-goal game, while Hall (21) and Haula (12) notched the assists at 15:34 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on net, 17-10.

Pittsburgh held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5) and hits (12-11), while Boston led in takeaways (5-2), giveaways (5-4) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

The Penguins were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Heinen (10) struck early in the second period– cutting Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, courtesy of being in the right place at the right time to catch a pass from Brock McGinn on a drive-by through the low slot before wrapping the rubber biscuit around Swayman.

McGinn (6) and Mike Matheson (13) had the assists on Heinen’s first goal of the game at 4:18 of the second period.

Just 28 seconds later, Heinen (11) recorded his second goal of the night courtesy of a shot with eyes from the circle to Swayman’s left off of the Bruins goaltender’s shoulder and into the twine.

Marino (17) and Evan Rodrigues (18) notched the assists on the goal as the Pens tied it, 2-2, at 4:46 of the second period– marking the fastest two goals by one Penguins skater since Martin Straka scored a club-record two goals in a seven-second span on Feb. 11, 2000, against the Edmonton Oilers.

Almost midway through the period, Pittsburgh was caught with too many skaters on the ice– rendering a bench minor at 7:24 that was served by Heinen.

Boston couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play, however.

Minutes later, Coyle interfered with Jeff Carter and yielded a power play to the Penguins at 11:56.

It took roughly a minute on the skater advantage for Crosby (13) to notch a power-play goal– the eventual game-winner in the process, as well as his 499th career NHL goal– to give Pittsburgh their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 12:53 of the second period.

Rust (19) and Jake Guentzel (24) had the assists on the goal as the Penguins capped off a trio of goals in a span of 8:35.

Late in the period, Matheson and Hall exchanged some pleasantries after a whistle and earned minor penalties for roughing at 18:49– resulting in 4-on-4 action that would seep into the final frame.

Through 40 minutes of action, Pittsburgh led Boston on the scoreboard, 3-2, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 35-18– including an, 18-8, advantage in the second period alone.

The Penguins held the advantage in blocked shots (11-7) and hits (24-19), while the B’s led in takeaways (9-5), giveaways (7-5) and faceoff win% (66-34).

Both teams were 1/2 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Craig Smith interfered with McGinn at 1:43 of the third period, but the Penguins weren’t able to score on the ensuing power play to begin the final frame.

Moments later, Crosby took down Bergeron with an errant leg as the Bruins captain smacked the back of his head off the boards while falling.

Bergeron did not return to the night’s action after going down the tunnel under his own power after a brief exchange with a Boston athletic trainer.

Matt Grzelcyk tried to invite Crosby to a square dance shortly thereafter with a swift cross check, but the Pittsburgh captain would not accept and instead was caught retaliating and assessed a roughing minor at 9:25.

The Bruins did not score on the resulting power play, however.

With 1:42 remaining in the action, Cassidy pulled Swayman for an extra attacker amidst the jumbled lines, but as Smith shortly tried to enter the zone and fumbled the puck– Charlie McAvoy couldn’t recover on the error and Rust broke free with possession.

Rust (15) skated through the neutral zone and buried the rubber biscuit in the open basket for a, 4-2, lead at 18:31 of the third period, while Guentzel (25) recorded the only assist.

Swayman vacated the crease once more with about 1:19 left on the clock, but it was ultimately to no avail despite Boston crowding the net in the other end.

After Jarry delivered a quick slash amongst the net front traffic, Marchand took exception to the Pittsburgh goaltender’s action and choice words shortly thereafter– appearing to aggravate the oft-short-tempered Bruin in the process.

Marchand swung a punch at Jarry’s mask and proceeded to get his stick in Jarry’s face– whether or not it was a forceful shove or spear remains at the mercy of the discretion of the officials on the ice and/or league office as Marchand was assessed a match penalty on the play, rendering an automatic suspension unless otherwise stated.

The B’s finished the night shorthanded as Marchand’s roughing minor and match penalty came at 19:35 of the third period.

Jarry took the high road after the game and told reporters “I think it’s just the heat of the moment, everyone’s battling hard out there. [Marchand’s] just trying to get the puck to the net and I think the team did a great job. … It’s part of the game and it stays on the ice.”

Cassidy noted after the game that Marchand’s antics were “undisciplined” and that he “needs to control his emotions in that situation.”

The rest is up to the league now.

At the final horn Tuesday night, the Penguins had won, 4-2, despite trailing Boston in shots on goal, 45-25.

The Bruins held the advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone, 10-7, as well as in giveaways (11-8) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Pittsburgh wrapped up the night’s action leading in blocked shots (19-13) and hits (30-22).

The Pens finished the night 1/4 on the power play while the B’s left their own ice 1/3 on the skater advantage in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 17-6-0 (9-4-0 at home) when scoring first, 16-1-0 (8-1-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 3-12-2 (3-7-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Pittsburgh improved to 7-8-7 (4-3-3 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-3-3 (3-2-1 on the road) when trailing after one and 21-1-1 (11-1-0 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

Boston will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday before venturing across the border to visit the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon to begin a four-game road trip.

The Bruins swing through New York for a pair of games against the Rangers and Islanders before visiting the Senators once more next Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

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