The Pittsburgh Penguins’ special teams got the job done in their, 4-2, win over the Boston Bruins on Sunday night at PPG Paints Arena as the Pens scored a shorthanded goal and a power play goal en route to end Boston’s point-streak at 19 games.
Jared McCann had two goals in the effort, while Nick Bjugstad and Jake Guentzel also scored for Pittsburgh. David Krejci and John Moore had the only goals for Boston.
The Bruins suffered their first loss in regulation since Jan. 19th and are now 15-1-4 in their last 20 games.
Matt Murray (23-11-3 record, 2.77 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 38 games played) made 39 saves on 41 shots against for a .951 SV% in the win for the Penguins.
B’s goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (18-10-4, 2.34 GAA, .924 SV% in 34 GP) stopped 33 out of 36 shots faced for a .917 SV% in the loss.
Boston fell to 42-18-9 (93 points) on the season, but remained in control of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, while Pittsburgh improved to 37-23-9 (83 points) on the season and surged into 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division.
Pittsburgh won the season series against the B’s, 2-0-1. The Penguins have also won in their last five home games against Boston as the Bruins fell to 15-11-6 on the road this season and 4-1-0 in the month of March.
Bruce Cassidy indicated that Jake DeBrusk (lower body) and Marcus Johansson (lung contusion) may be nearing returns to the lineup, while it is not likely Kevan Miller (upper body) and David Pastrnak (left thumb) will join the Bruins on their ongoing three-game road trip.
Cassidy adjusted his forward lines, placing Peter Cehlarik at left wing on the second line with Krejci and Lee Stempniak, while bumping up Sean Kuraly to the third line with Charlie Coyle and David Backes.
Joakim Nordstrom was demoted to the fourth line with Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner.
Steven Kampfer remains the only healthy scratch in the Bruins lineup from night-to-night currently.
Bjugstad (10) kicked things off early in the action after the Bruins turned the puck over in their own zone. Patric Hornqvist generated a rebound off Halak and Bjugstad pounced on the loose puck to give the Penguins the lead, 1-0, at 1:33 of the first period.
Hornqvist (16) and Dominik Simon (18) tallied the assists on the goal as the Pittsburgh crowd came to life.
Boston was penalized for too many men on the ice, leaving Cehlarik to serve the bench minor at 3:41.
The Pens did not convert on their first power play chance of the night, nor did they score on their second skater advantage opportunity when Matt Grzelcyk hooked Bjugstad at 9:01 of the opening frame.
Justin Schultz sent the puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game infraction at 13:07, resulting in Boston’s first power play of the evening. It did not go well.
McCann (15) received a breakout pass and quickly worked his way behind the Bruins defenders and scored on Halak on a breakaway.
Teddy Blueger (2) had the only assist on McCann’s shorthanded goal and the Penguins led, 2-0, at 13:54 of the first period.
Moments later, Wagner went to the penalty box for tripping Marcus Pettersson at 15:19, but was quickly followed by Evgeni Malkin for tripping Charlie McAvoy at 16:12, resulting in 4-on-4 action for about 1:07.
McCann appeared on the event sheet one last time before the first intermission for an inference penalty at 19:26, as the Penguins finished the first 20 minutes of play leading on the scoreboard, 2-0, and in shots on goal, 15-8.
Pittsburgh also led in takeaways (1-0) and hits (12-7), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (7-4) and face-off win percentage (58-42). Both teams had five giveaways aside and were 0/3 on the power play prior to the start of the second period.
Early in the second period, Hornqvist checked Grzelcyk along the boards, leaving the Bruins defender favoring his right arm as it awkwardly collided with the Penguins forward and the glass.
Grzelcyk would not return to the action with an upper body injury.
Former Bruin, Zach Trotman, slashed Acciari at 3:31 of the second period and presented Boston with a power play opportunity.
Similar to how the Pens scored their first goal, the B’s got on the scoreboard and cut the lead in half after Heinen flung a puck off Murray over to Krejci (19) for the rebound and easy tally.
Heinen (18) and Brad Marchand (54) picked up the assists on Krejci’s power play goal at 4:32 of the second period and Boston trailed, 2-1.
Almost two minutes later, Patrice Bergeron sent the puck over the glass and received an automatic delay of game minor penalty at 6:43.
Pittsburgh did not score on the ensuing power play, but it was only a matter of time as Boston would find out when Brandon Carlo tripped up Blueger at 16:10.
Just 22 seconds into the resulting power play for the Penguins, Sidney Crosby caught the B’s on a shorthanded turnover and sent the puck to Guentzel (34) for a two-on-one power play goal at 16:32.
Pittsburgh led, 3-1, as Crosby (57) and Pettersson (19) picked up assists on the goal.
After 40 minutes of play, the Penguins led in shots on goal (23-22), takeaways (5-3), giveaways (8-4), hits (19-15) and face-off win% (51-49), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (13-12).
The Pens were 1/5 on the power play after two periods and the B’s were 1/4 heading into the third period.
Trotman trotted to the sin bin for the second time of the night at 4:33 of the third period for interference, but the Bruins couldn’t muster anything on the resulting skater advantage.
Cassidy pulled his netminder with over 2:30 remaining in regulation to try to pull within one-goal, let alone score two quick goals to tie the game.
Pittsburgh struggled to find the open net at first, yielding a slap shot from Moore (4) to find its way past Murray, bringing the game to within one at 18:59.
Coyle (19) and Heinen (19) tabbed the assists on Moore’s goal as the Bruins trailed, 3-2. Coyle’s assist was his first point as a Bruin, but the celebration didn’t last long.
Halak vacated the crease again for an extra attacker, but the Penguins were successful in finding the empty twine at 19:39, as McCann (16) pocketed his second goal of the night to make it 4-2, Pittsburgh.
Guentzel (31) had the only assist on McCann’s empty netter.
Despite losing, 4-2, Boston finished the night with more shots on goal, 41-37, and leading in face-off win% (53-47). Pittsburgh finished the night with the advantage in giveaways (15-10) and hits (28-20).
Both teams had 16 blocked shots each and went 1/5 on the power play.
The Bruins swing through Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets on Tuesday before finishing up their three-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. Boston returns home to square off with the Blue Jackets again on March 16th.