Brad Marchand had a hat trick to go along with his four-point afternoon in the Boston Bruins’, 7-5, victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden on Saturday.
David Pastrnak had a pair of goals and David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron set career milestones in the process, while Jaroslav Halak (9-5-3, 2.44 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 17 games played) made 23 saves on 28 shots against in the win for Boston.
Pittsburgh netminder, Casey DeSmith (9-4-0, 2.13 goals-against average, .922 save percentage in 15 games played), stopped 21 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 19-10-5 (43 points) on the season and remain in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Penguins dropped to 24-12-2 (50 points) overall and remained in command of 3rd place in the same division.
The B’s improved to 4-2-0 against the Pens this season with the win.
The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (lower body), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body) and Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol) on Saturday afternoon.
As a result, head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lineup from Thursday night’s, 4-1, loss against Pittsburgh.
Cassidy swapped his first and second line right wings, placing Craig Smith alongside Marchand and Bergeron, while uniting Pastrnak with Nick Ritchie and Krejci.
Sean Kuraly was back in the lineup for the first time since being placed in COVID protocol on March 18th. He was taken off the league’s COVID protocol list prior to Thursday night’s loss, but did not suit up against the Penguins until Saturday.
Kuraly centered the third line with Anders Bjork at left wing and Charlie Coyle at right wing.
Jack Studnicka, meanwhile, centered the fourth line with Trent Frederic to his left and Zach Senyshyn to his right.
On defense, Cassidy paired former Boston University teammates, Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pairing.
Jakub Zboril suited up alongside Steven Kampfer and Jarred Tinordi was back in the lineup with Connor Clifton after Tinordi was as a healthy scratch since March 25th.
Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players on Saturday afternoon included Chris Wagner, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Lauzon, DeBrusk, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Miller and Callum Booth.
Mike Matheson sent a shot towards the goal off of an attacking zone faceoff that tipped off of Coyle’s stick, then Mark Jankowski’s, over Halak’s shoulder, off the crossbar and under into the back of the twine.
As Jankowski (3) was the last to touch the rubber biscuit, the goal was his and the Penguins led, 1-0, at 3:24 of the first period.
Matheson (6) had the only assist on the goal.
Shortly after the midpoint in the opening frame until late in the first period, the two clubs engaged in a span of 8:05 of consecutive action.
Heading into the first intermission, Pittsburgh led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-6, in shots on goal.
The Pens held the advantage in giveaways (5-1), hits (13-12) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while both teams had four takeaways each.
Neither team had seen any time on the power play entering the middle frame.
Just 11 seconds into the second period, Bergeron (11) capitalized on a rebound from his usual spot in the bumper to tie the game, 1-1, on an unassisted effort.
Bergeron tied Rick Middleton for the fourth most points (898) in a Bruins uniform in franchise history as a result of his goal. In 1,123 career games, Bergeron has 363-535–898 totals– all with Boston– while Middleton recorded 402-496–898 totals in 881 games as a Bruin from 1976-88.
34 seconds later, Pastrnak (15) buried a shot from the slot after the puck bounced off of Ritchie due to an initial shot by Krejci from the point to give the B’s their first lead of the afternoon, 2-1.
Ritchie (9) and Krejci (21) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s goal 45 seconds into the second period.
As a result of his secondary assist on the goal, Krejci reached 500 career NHL assists in his 941st game (all with Boston). Pastrnak made sure the puck was delivered to the Bruins’ bench for future display purposes in the Krejci household.
The Bruins did not hold the lead for long, however, as Jake Guentzel (16) scored on a close-range one-timer as he was fed by a backhand pass from Sidney Crosby while the Penguins captain was skating behind the net in “Gretzky’s office”.
Crosby (27) and Brian Dumoulin (5) tabbed assists on Guentzel’s goal as the score was evened, 2-2, at 2:45 of the second period.
On an ensuing play in Boston’s defensive zone, McAvoy closed his hand on the puck in the crease and received an automatic delay of game minor infraction for (you guessed it) closing his hand on the puck at 4:45.
Pittsburgh’s first power play of the afternoon went right to work as Crosby setup Guentzel into the slot who then passed the puck to Jared McCann (9) for the one-timer past Halak’s blocker side as the Bruins goaltender dove from left to right in the crease.
Guentzel (21) and Crosby (28) had the assists on McCann’s power-play goal at 5:11 and the Pens grabbed a, 3-2, lead in the action.
Midway through the period, Pittsburgh and Boston swapped penalties when Sam Lafferty caught Clifton with an elbow at 9:59 and Grzelcyk tripped Cody Ceci at 10:20, resulting in 1:40 of 4-on-4 action before the Penguins had an abbreviated 5-on-4 advantage.
Neither team scored on the special teams play.
Moments later, however, the Bruins rallied when Marchand (15) sent a catch and release shot while cutting a quick turn in front of DeSmith in the low slot– elevating the puck top-shelf in the process– to tie the game, 3-3, at 14:56.
Grzelcyk (9) and Smith (9) had the assists on Marchand’s first goal of the afternoon.
After a stoppage in play resulted in a slashing minor for Marchand against Kris Letang and a roughing infraction for Letang against Marchand at 15:10, the two clubs resumed 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes, though that didn’t last long.
Boston went on the 4-on-3 advantage when Evan Rodrigues hooked Pastrnak at 16:53.
The Bruins then had 18 seconds on the unconventional 4-on-3 power play before yielding an abbreviated 5-on-4 advantage.
While on the ensuing power play, Boston whipped the puck around the zone before Pastrnak sent it to Marchand who whizzed a shot pass through the slot to Krejci (2) for the redirection from the edge of the crease to the left of DeSmith.
The Bruins re-took the lead, 4-3, as Marchand (24) and Pastrnak (14) were credited with assists on Krejci’s power-play goal at 18:29.
Boston was not done scoring, however, as Marchand (16) received an indirect pass from McAvoy from the slot off of a faceoff win in the attacking zone that bounced from Smith to No. 63 in black and gold (or, gold and black, as it were, since the Bruins donned their Reverse Retro jerseys on Saturday), before sending another catch and release shot past DeSmith.
Smith (10) and McAvoy (18) tallied the assists on Marchand’s second goal of the afternoon and the Bruins led, 5-3, at 19:40– marking three unanswered goals for Boston to finish off the second period.
Entering the second intermission, the Bruins led, 5-3, on the scoreboard, but trailed the Penguins, 18-17, in shots on goal, despite holding an, 11-9, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.
Boston also led in takeaways (9-7), hits (23-17) and faceoff win% (53-47), while Pittsburgh held the advantage in blocked shots (7-2) and giveaways (10-2) through 40 minutes of action.
Both teams were 1/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.
Ceci (3) opened the scoring in the third period after Boston failed to clear their own zone and Jankowski sent a pass to the wide-open Penguins defender to bring Pittsburgh to within one at 4:38.
Jankowski (4) and Lafferty (5) had the assists as the Pens trailed, 5-4.
Midway through the final frame, Ritchie made a hit at the attacking zone blue line to take possession of the puck and generate a 2-on-1 advantage for the Bruins on the break-in.
Ritchie fed Pastrnak (16) a pass across the slot for another catch and release goal– this time over DeSmith’s glove side to make it, 6-4, for Boston.
Ritchie (10) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s second goal of the game at 13:28 of the third period.
With 2:25 remaining in the action, Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.
Letang, in the meantime, had other ideas and hooked Pastrnak and cut a rut to the penalty box at 17:49.
After clearing their own zone, Pittsburgh once again pulled DeSmith for an extra skater, whereby Crosby (15) mustered a soft goal through Halak to pull the Penguins to within one goal once more at 18:45.
Guentzel (22) had the only assist on Crosby’s shorthanded goal and the Pens trailed, 6-5.
Sullivan used his timeout on the ensuing stoppage with 1:15 remaining in the action to drum up a plan.
On the resulting center-ice faceoff, Bergeron may have caught Crosby in the sternum with an inadvertent butt-end while pulling the puck back from the dot as Crosby brushed Bergeron’s visor before Bergeron made the turn.
Crosby whipped his head back and fell to the ice, perhaps embellishing (depending on which team you cheer for) what resulted in a four-minute double minor for high sticking for Bergeron, despite no evidence of an injury or blood drawn, while nobody seemed to notice Krejci’s errant stick to McCann’s face that was quite evident in the replay and review of whether or not Bergeron touched Crosby.
Regardless, Bergeron skated to the box at 18:49 and the Penguins went on the power play.
This time, however, Pittsburgh’s power play was powerless as they once again pulled DeSmith for a de facto two-skater advantage, but Marchand (17) sealed the deal on the game’s fate with an empty net goal– scoring a hat trick in the process.
Coyle (5) had the only assist on Marchand’s third goal of the afternooon– marking his first hat trick of the season and his fourth overall in his NHL career– at 18:59 and the B’s led, 7-5.
At the final horn, Boston had won, 7-5, and finished even in total shots on goal, 28-28, despite leading, 11-10, in shots on goal in the third period alone.
The Bruins wrapped up the afternoon leading in blocked shots (8-7), hits (28-25) and faceoff win% (60-40), while the Penguins finished Saturday’s effort leading in giveaways (12-3).
Both teams finished 1/3 on the power play in the matinée action.
The Bruins improved to 7-7-2 (4-5-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while the Penguins fell to 13-4-1 (5-3-0 on the road) when scoring first in 2020-21.
Boston also improved to 5-6-2 (3-2-0 at home) when trailing after one and 11-0-1 (7-0-1 at home) when leading after two periods this season.
Pittsburgh dropped to 12-3-1 (2-2-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 4-8-1 (2-7-1 on the road) when trailing after the second period this season.
The Bruins wrap up their seven-game homestand (3-2-1) next Monday (April 5th) against the Philadelphia Flyers before hitting the road for a three-game road trip through Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia again.