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NHL Nick's Net

DeSmith, Pens, down B’s, 4-1

Casey DeSmith backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to a, 4-1, victory over the Boston Bruins Thursday night at TD Garden in what was Pittsburgh’s first win in Boston since Nov. 24, 2014.

DeSmith (9-3-0, 1.84 goals-against average, .933 save percentage in 14 games played) made 30 saves on 31 shots against in the win for the Penguins.

Bruins goaltender, Dan Vladar (2-1-0, 2.05 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in three games played) turned aside 19 out of 22 shots faced in the loss.

Pittsburgh improved to 24-11-2 (50 points) overall and remained in command of 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Boston dropped to 18-10-5 (41 points) on the season and remained in 4th place in the division.

The Bruins also fell to 3-2-0 against the Pens this season.

Boston was without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol) on Thursday, while Sean Kuraly was removed from league protocol on Wednesday and took part in an optional morning skate on Thursday.

Kase also took part in the optional morning skate, while DeBrusk skated on his own at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday morning for the first time since entering COVID protocol on March 19th.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, left his lines intact from Tuesday night’s, 5-4, shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils, rendering Kuraly as a healthy scratch, along with Chris Wagner, Jack Studnicka, Steven Kampfer and Jarred Tinordi.

Moore, Kase, Rask, DeBrusk and Miller remained out due to injury, while Callum Booth was part of Boston’s taxi squad.

Greg McKegg, meanwhile, was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday with Jeremy Swayman, who was briefly called up to the taxi squad and reassigned.

Brian Dumoulin delivered a cross check to David Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with the first power play of the night at 10:59 of the first period.

Boston did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage and neither team was penalized further, nor scored a goal in the opening frame.

Entering the first intermission, the Penguins led in shots on goal, 7-2, while the scoreboard was even at, 0-0.

The B’s led in blocked shots (8-6), hits (12-6) and faceoff win percentage (55-45), while the Pens led in takeaways (3-1) and giveaways (3-1) after 20 minutes of play.

Pittsburgh had yet to see any action on the power play, while Boston was 0/1 heading into the middle frame.

The Bruins tweeted prior to puck drop on the second period that defender, Brandon Carlo, would not return to Thursday night’s game with an upper body injury.

Carlo had missed 10 games this season with an upper body injury that he sustained on March 5th against the Washington Capitals prior to returning to the lineup in Tuesday night’s win against New Jersey.

Jeremy Lauzon was also not on the bench to start the middle period, but returned shortly after the second period was underway after being cut by a skate late in the opening frame.

Meanwhile, early in the period, Zach Aston-Reese (8) capitalized on a rush– redirecting a pass from Brandon Tanev past Vladar low on the glove side.

Tanev (9) and Frederick Gaudreau (3) tallied the assists on Aston-Reese’s goal and the Penguins led, 1-0, at 2:01 of the second period.

Midway through the period, Mike Matheson (3) went post-to-post on a wraparound break-in and gave Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.

Anthony Angello (2) and Cody Ceci (6) had the assists on Matheson’s goal and the Pens led, 2-0, at 13:12.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday night, Pittsburgh was in command, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 17-15, in shots on goal, despite Boston leading, 13-10, in shots in the second period alone.

The Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (14-9), hits (27-13) and faceoff win% (55-45), while the Penguins led in takeaways (10-3) and giveaways (5-3).

Boston was still 0/1 on the power play, while Pittsburgh awaited their first taste of the skater advantage in the action.

The Penguins went on the power play when Lauzon caught Bryan Rust without the puck and was assessed an interference minor 31 seconds into the third period.

Though Brad Marchand and Kris Letang exchanged pleasantries about half-a-minute later, Marchand’s ensuing roughing infraction was matched by Letang’s holding minor, thereby leaving the Pens on the 5-on-4 advantage at 1:03 of the final frame.

Pittsburgh did not score on the skater advantage.

Matt Grzelcyk went down the tunnel after catching an errant puck off the helmet with 13:24 remaining in the action.

Moments later, Marchand (14) scored a one-timer off of a pass that deflected off of Ceci’s stick from Patrice Bergeron through the slot.

Bergeron (18) and Jakub Zboril (7) had the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins trailed, 2-1, at 11:14 of the third period.

Less than two minutes later– in a span of 1:53, to be exact– Jason Zucker (5) put the Penguins ahead by two-goals once again after Pastrnak’s self-pass in traffic in the neutral zone was botched and led to a turnover, yielding a one-timer for Zucker while Grzelcyk (back from his trip down the tunnel) pressured Evan Rodrigues and Vladar was caught a little too far out of the crease in effort to cut down on Rodrigues’ shooting angle.

Instead, Pittsburgh led, 3-1, on Zucker’s goal with assists from Rodrigues (4) and Marcus Pettersson (3) at 13:07.

With 3:09 remaining in the game, Cassidy pulled Vladar for an extra attacker.

It wasn’t long before Jake Guentzel (15) used geometry to his advantage and angled the puck off of the boards and into the open twine from about the center red line.

Letang (22) and Sidney Crosby (26) had the assists on Guentzel’s empty net goal and the Penguins led, 4-1, at 17:51/

Mark Jankowski was penalized for holding at 18:44, yielding one final power play to Boston, but despite pulling their netminder once again with 1:16 remaining in the game, the Bruins fell flat.

At the final horn, Pittsburgh had won, 4-1, despite trailing Boston in the final shot total, 31-23, including a, 16-6, advantage for the B’s in the third period alone.

The Bruins wrapped up the night leading in blocked shots (15-12), hits (35-29) and faceoff win% (57-43), while the Penguins led in giveaways (7-5).

Pittsburgh finished 0/1 and Boston finished 0/2 on the power play on Thursday.

The Bruins dropped to 5-4-1 (2-3-1 at home) when tied after the first period and 4-6-1 (3-4-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Pittsburgh improved to 6-2-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when tied after one period and 14-1-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when leading after the two periods this season.

Boston fell to 6-7-2 (3-5-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while the Pens improved to 13-3-1 (5-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal in 2020-21.

The Bruins take on the Penguins once again on Saturday before wrapping up their seven-game homestand (2-2-1) next Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers before hitting the road for three games.

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NHL Nick's Net

Vladar backstops Bruins to, 2-1, win in Pittsburgh

Dan Vladar made 34 saves on 35 shots against in his first career National Hockey League start as the Boston Bruins beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1, at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday night.

Vladar (1-0-0, 1.00 goals-against average, .971 save percentage in one game played) stole the show early in the first period for the B’s while making a save with his paddle, while Penguins goaltender, Casey DeSmith (6-3-0, 2.22 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in 10 games played) stopped 31 out of 33 shots faced (.939 SV%) in the loss.

David Pastrnak opened the scoring for Boston, while Trent Frederic scored the game-winning goal in the third period for the Bruins after Brandon Tanev tied things up late in the opening frame.

Tanev was assessed a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct for a hit in front of the Bruins bench on Boston defender, Jarred Tinordi, in the second period that forced Tinordi out of the game with an upper body injury.

Boston improved to 15-8-4 (34 points) overall and remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division standings, while Pittsburgh fell to 18-10-1 (37 points), but held onto 3rd place in the division.

The Bruins also improved to 3-1-0 against the Penguins this season.

Boston was without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (right knee), Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Tuukka Rask (lower body) and Zach Senyshyn (upper body) on Tuesday, while Oskar Steen made his NHL debut and Vladar earned his first career NHL start (and regular season debut).

Steen was slotted into the right wing spot on the third line in place of Anders Bjork, who joined Chris Wagner, Senyshyn, Carlo, John Moore, Kase, Rask, Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, Miller, Jeremy Swayman, Jack Ahcan and Greg McKegg on the list of healthy scratches, injuries and taxi squad members.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup from Monday night’s, 4-1, loss in Pittsburgh to Tuesday night’s victory.

Pastrnak kicked things off with a boarding infraction 39 seconds into the first period, presenting the Penguins with the first power play opportunity of the night.

Less than a minute later, Pittsburgh’s power play was cut short when Evgeni Malkin cut a rut to the penalty box for holding at 1:26.

The two clubs skated at 4-on-4 for about 1:13 before Boston had an abbreviated skater advantage.

While on the ensuing power play, Pastrnak (13) received a pass from Brad Marchand, deked and slipped the puck through DeSmith’s five-hole on a backhand shot to give the Bruins the, 1-0, lead.

Marchand (21) and Matt Grzelcyk (7) had the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal at 3:20 of the first period.

About ten minutes later, Pastrnak was off to the box on a phantom tripping minor after Brian Dumoulin lost an edge, cut a rut or something– the replay indicated that Pastrnak did not, in fact, actually trip the Pens defender, but alas, the B’s forward was sent to the box at 13:13.

Pittsburgh struck in the vulnerable minute after a power play as Tanev (7) tied the game, 1-1, on a rebound that he sent off of Vladar’s skate and into the twine.

Evan Rodrigues (3) and Kasperi Kapanen (13) tallied the assists on Tanev’s goal 1t 15:22.

Entering the first intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, and shots on goal were even, 15-15.

Both teams had four blocked shots each, while the Penguins led in takeaways (6-2) as well as giveaways (4-3), while the Bruins led in hits (17-14) and faceoff win percentage (54-46).

The Pens were 0/2 and the B’s were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Patrice Bergeron was penalized for an illegal check to the head 34 seconds into the second period after catching Jake Guentzel with an inadvertent elbow up high.

Pittsburgh did not convert on the ensuing power play, which was shortened by their own doing once again after a bench minor for too many skaters on the ice was called at 1:36. Anthony Angello served the infraction.

Midway through the action, Marcus Pettersson was penalized for holding at 8:13 of the second period, but Boston wasn’t able to capitalize on the advantage.

Moments later, Tanev checked Tinordi and was dealt a five-minute major for boarding, as well as a game misconduct. The penalty was reviewed and upheld at 12:57.

The Bruins did not score on the major power play.

Through 40 minutes of action at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday, the score remained tied, 1-1, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal through two periods, 28-24, including a, 13-9, advantage in the second period alone.

The Penguins held the advantage in blocked shots (10-4), takeaways (12-3) and hits (28-27) after two periods, while Boston led in faceoff win% (59-41).

Both teams had six giveaways each, while the Pens were 0/3 and the B’s were 1/4 on the power play entering the final frame.

Marchand caught Guentzel with a high stick 39 seconds into the third period, but Pittsburgh did not score on the resulting power play.

Shortly thereafter, the Bruins tweeted and confirmed that Tinordi (upper body) would not return to Tuesday night’s action.

Almost midway through the third period, Frederic (4) snuck into the attacking zone on a line change, called for a pass and snapped a shot over DeSmith’s glove side from the high slot to give Boston the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal.

Jakub Zboril (5) and Bergeron (15) had the assists on Frederic’s goal at 7:07 of the third period and the Bruins led, 2-1.

With about 1:45 remaining in the game, Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but Pittsburgh couldn’t even the score.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 35-33, in shots on goal, including an, 11-5, advantage for Pittsburgh in the third period alone.

The Penguins finished the night leading in blocked shots (14-8) and giveaways (10-7), while the Bruins wrapped up the affair leading in hits (46-40) and faceoff win% (58-42).

Pittsburgh went 0/4 on the power play, while Boston went 1/4 on the skater advantage on Tuesday.

The Bruins snapped Pittsburgh’s six-game winning streak, while Vladar became the first Boston goaltender to win in his first start since Niklas Svedberg led the B’s to a, 3-2, overtime victory over the Nashville Predators on Jan. 2, 2014.

Boston improved to 11-3-2 (5-3-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, while Pittsburgh fell to 10-7-1 (8-2-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins also improved to 5-3-1 (3-1-0 on the road) when tied after the first period and 4-4-3 (4-3-2 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

The Penguins dropped to 5-2-0 (3-2-0 at home) when tied after one period and 6-3-0 (4-1-0 at home) when tied after the second period this season.

For the first time since Dec. 18, 2015, the Bruins beat the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

The B’s continue their four-game road trip (1-1-0) in Buffalo for a pair of games against the Sabres on Thursday and Saturday.

Boston’s next home game on March 23rd against the New York Islanders, will be their first to feature fans at TD Garden since the pandemic began last year. TD Garden will be limited to a 12% seating capacity.