NHL Nick's Net

DeSmith sets franchise record in, 4-0, shutout victory for Penguins

Casey DeSmith made 52 saves in a, 4-0, shutout for the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night against the Boston Bruins at PPG Paints Arena– setting a pair of franchise records for each team in the process.

DeSmith made the most saves in a shutout win in Penguins history, surpassing Jean-Sebastian Aubin’s 45-save effort in a, 4-0, win against the Dallas Stars on March 9, 2004, at Pittsburgh’s former home, Mellon Arena.

Meanwhile, for the first time in Bruins history, Boston had 50 or more shots on net in a shutout loss.

Also Jake Guentzel scored a hat trick to reach the 40-goal plateau for the second time in his career and first time since the 2018-19 season.

Talk about burying the lede.

DeSmith (9-5-5, 2.75 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in 23 games played) made 52 saves on 52 shots against in the shutout win for the Pens, while Jeremy Swayman (22-13-3, 2.35 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 39 games played) stopped 28 out of 31 shots faced in the loss for the B’s.

The Penguins improved to 44-23-11 (99 points) overall and remain in command of 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division, while the Bruins fell to 47-25-5 (99 points) and remain stuck in 4th place in the Atlantic Division.

Boston is still two points ahead of the Washington Capitals for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with the second wild card going on to face the Florida Panthers in the 2022 First Round as a result of the Panthers clinching the number one seed in the Eastern Conference on Thursday night.

The B’s went 1-2-0 in their regular season series against the Penguins after going 5-3-0 against Pittsburgh in 2020-21 and 2-1-0 in 2019-20.

The Bruins remained without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), David Pastrnak (undisclosed), Hampus Lindholm (lower body), Linus Ullmark (undisclosed) and Jesper Frödén (lower body) on Thursday.

Head coach, Bruce Cassidy, informed reporters prior to the matchup with the Penguins that Ullmark could be back on Saturday afternoon in Boston and made no changes to his lineup from Tuesday night’s, 3-2, overtime victory in St. Louis to Thursday night’s loss in Pittsburgh.

Jack Studnicka, Josh Brown, Jack Ahcan and Anton Blidh made up the short list of healthy scratches for the B’s against the Pens.

Rickard Rakell sent a pass to Sidney Crosby before Crosby bumped it over to Guentzel along the blue line as the Penguins entered the attacking zone almost midway through the opening frame.

Guentzel (38) drove to the net as the Bruins botched a line change and buried a shot through Swayman’s five-hole to give Pittsburgh a, 1-0, lead at 7:49 of the first period.

Crosby (52) and Rakell (20) tallied the assists on Guentzel’s first goal of the game.

Moments later, Pittsburgh had the first power play of the night as a result of Taylor Hall’s slashing infraction at 11:48, but the Pens failed to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

After one period the Penguins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 13-11, in shots on goal.

Boston, meanwhile, held the advantage in giveaways (4-1), hits (15-7) and faceoff win% (59-41).

Both teams had four blocked shots and five takeaways each heading into the middle period while Pittsburgh was 0-for-1 on the power play and the Bruins had yet to see any action on the skater advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Boston’s defense erred once more as Jeff Carter sent fed Jason Zucker a lead pass into the attacking zone.

Zucker (8) broke free behind Brandon Carlo and buried a shot in the top right corner as Carlo opted to cover Bryan Rust in the center of the ice.

Carter (24) and John Marino (24) notched the assists as the Penguins took a, 2-0, lead at 6:10 of the second period.

About ten minutes later, the Pens extended their lead to three goals when Carlo failed to clear the zone and ended up giving the puck away to the high slot whereby Pittsburgh kept it in the zone and worked it around before Kris Letang dished a pass through the slot to connect with Guentzel (39) on a one-timer goal.

Letang (56) had the only assist as the Penguins made it, 3-0, at 16:12 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, Pittsburgh led on the scoreboard, 3-0, despite trailing in shots on goal, 30-25.

Boston even had a, 19-12, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone, while also maintaining control in takeaways (8-6), giveaways (6-3) and hits (29-19).

The Penguins, on the other hand, led in blocked shots (7-6), while both teams managed to split faceoff win%, 50-50, after two periods.

Only the Pens had seen any power play action heading into the second intermission and Pittsburgh was 0-for-1 as a result entering the final frame.

Marcus Pettersson cut a rut to the penalty box for interference at 7:27 of the third period, but the Bruins weren’t able to convert on the resulting power play– falling to 0-for-28 on their last 28 power play opportunities as a result.

The B’s had another chance on the skater advantage at 10:16 when Chad Ruhwedel was penalized for holding, but Boston ended up extending their power play drought to 0-for-29 on their last 29 power plays instead.

With about four minutes left in the game, Cassidy pulled Swayman for an extra attacker.

He’d end up yanking him again about a minute later after a stoppage in play resulted in a defensive zone faceoff, but Pittsburgh made quick work of the open net regardless.

Guentzel (40) retrieved a loose puck in his own end and flung the rubber biscuit with enough velocity to reach the back of the empty twine across the rink– giving the Penguins a, 4-0, lead as a result at 17:55 of the third period.

Hats rained down from the stands at PPG Paints Arena as Guentzel completed his hat trick with an unassisted empty net goal.

At the final horn, Pittsburgh had won, 4-0, with DeSmith earning a shutout despite Boston exiting the ice with a, 52-32, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 22-7, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins exited PPG Paints Arena with the advantage in giveaways (6-5), hits (36-26) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the Penguins left their own ice leading in blocked shots (14-8).

The Pens went 0-for-1 and the B’s went 0-for-2 on the power play on Thursday.

Boston has now lost five out of their last eight games and dropped to 13-16-3 (6-8-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 6-14-2 (2-7-1 on the road) when trailing after one and 4-19-2 (1-8-1 on the road) when losing after two periods this season.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, improved to 33-5-3 (17-3-1 at home) when scoring first, 22-3-2 (13-2-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 30-1-2 (15-0-1 at home) when leading after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins return home to host the New York Rangers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Puck drop is set for a little after 3 p.m. ET on ABC.

Boston heads to Montréal on Sunday before hosting Florida and Buffalo next Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, prior to their regular season finale in Toronto next Friday.