Four different players scored for the Boston Bruins in their, 4-1, victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night at TD Garden.
Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (11-5-6 record, 2.42 goals against average, .921 save percentage in 22 games played) made 29 saves on 30 shots against for a .967 SV% in the win.
Penguins goaltender, Tristan Jarry (16-7-1, 2.16 GAA, .929 SV% in 24 games played) stopped 26 out of 29 shots faced for an .897 SV% in the loss.
Boston improved to 28-9-12 (68 points) on the season and remained in command of the Atlantic Division, while Pittsburgh fell to 29-13-5 (63 points), but maintained their status in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division.
The B’s also improved to 16-2-9 at home this season.
Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body), Tuukka Rask (concussion) and David Krejci (upper body) on Thursday.
Rask was placed on the injured reserve and likely will not play again until after the All Star break, while Krejci was a game-time decision, but didn’t participate in pregame warmups.
Brett Ritchie was placed on waivers for the purpose of assignment to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday and cleared waivers without any issues on Thursday. He had two goals and four assists (six points) in 27 games with Boston before being sent down to Providence.
As a result, Karson Kuhlman was recalled from Providence and suited up in his first game with Boston since being injured in Toronto on Oct. 19th.
Kuhlman missed 32 games with a fractured tibia before being assigned to Providence and amassing 2-1–3 totals in four games with the P-Bruins since returning to play. He had no points in eight games with Boston this season entering Thursday.
With Rask out for at least a week, Dan Vladar was called up from Providence to be Halak’s backup for the time being.
Vladar has a 6-5-2 record with a 1.84 GAA, a .935 SV% and two shutouts in 12 games with Providence so far this season. He has yet to make an NHL appearance in his career since being drafted by Boston in the 3rd round (75th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, had to make some adjustments to his lineup from Tuesday night’s, 3-0, loss in Columbus to Thursday night’s matchup with Pittsburgh.
Cassidy left his first and fourth lines alone, but bumped up Charlie Coyle to center the second line in Krejci’s absence, while Par Lindholm was re-inserted in the lineup as the third line center in Coyle’s spot.
Danton Heinen remained on the third line left wing, while Kuhlman made his return to the B’s lineup on the right side of Heinen and Lindholm.
On defense, Matt Grzelcyk returned to the left side of the third pairing with John Moore on his right, while Steven Kampfer went back up to the press box on level nine of TD Garden as a healthy scratch.
Kampfer was joined by David Backes and Anton Blidh as Boston’s trio of healthy scratches against the Penguins while Blidh looks to return from an injury sustained in the preseason.
Prior to the action, the Bruins held a ceremony to honor Rask for surpassing 500 career NHL games earlier in the season.
Shortly after puck drop, Sidney Crosby (7) received the puck, broke into the attacking zone and rocketed a slap shot under Halak’s glove to give the Penguins a, 1-0, lead 24 seconds into the first period.
Dominik Simon (14) and Jack Johnson (7) had the assists on Crosby’s goal. Johnson’s secondary assist was the 300th point of his NHL career.
Boston allowed the game’s first goal on home ice for just the 13th time this season in the process.
Less than a minute later, Zach Aston-Reese received a roughing minor for trying to engage Charlie McAvoy in a battle after McAvoy hit Brandon Tanev along the boards.
The Bruins went to the power play at 1:16, but did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
About seven seconds after resuming even strength play, the Penguins were shorthanded again when John Marino boarded Chris Wagner at 3:23.
Boston’s power play was powerless on their second opportunity of the game.
Moments later, Kris Letang and Wagner each received roughing infractions after Wagner delivered a huge hit on Tanev near the boards at 7:33.
In the vulnerable minute after the ensuing 4-on-4 action, Sean Kuraly (4) squeaked a shot past Jarry to tie the game, 1-1.
Kuhlman (1) and McAvoy (17) had the assists on Kuraly’s goal at 10:03 of the first period and the B’s surged in momentum.
Almost a couple minutes later, Kuhlman was once again involved in a goal when he intentionally shot the puck from the high slot in Lindholm’s direction for Lindholm (3) to redirect the rubber biscuit past Jarry at 12:16.
Kuhlman (2) had the only assist– his 2nd of the night– as Lindholm’s goal gave the Bruins their first lead of the night, 2-1.
Boston managed to score a pair of goals in a 2:13 span, then followed it up with a tripping penalty when Patrice Bergeron got his stick caught under Evgeni Malkin and brought down the Pens forward at 13:19 of the first period.
Pittsburgh was unsuccessful on the resulting power play.
After one period of action on Thursday, the Bruins led the Penguins, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 12-10, in shots on goal.
Boston also held the advantage in hits (14-6) and faceoff win percentage (57-44), while Pittsburgh led in blocked shots (7-4), takeaways (4-2) and giveaways (3-1).
The Pens were 0/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission and the B’s were 0/2.
Early in the middle frame, Wagner tripped Marino and was sent to the penalty box with a minor infraction at 1:39 of the second period.
Pittsburgh did not score on the resulting power play.
Midway through the second period, Anders Bjork slashed Dominik Kahun and was sent to the sin bin at 9:47. Once again, the Penguins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Late in the period, Patric Hornqvist and Torey Krug exchanged words and got into a bit of a shoving match that elicited roughing penalties at 16:08.
A few seconds after each player was released from the box and both teams resumed 5-on-5 action, Hornqvist and Krug dropped the gloves and exchanged fisticuffs in what was just the 9th fight this season for Boston.
Both players received five-minute majors for fighting at 18:11 of the second period and got an early start on the second intermission.
Less than a minute later, Marcus Pettersson was guilty of holding David Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with another power play at 18:41, but the B’s didn’t convert on the ensuing advantage– despite Bergeron’s best efforts of bringing a puck down from mid-air to the ice with his glove.
Bergeron unintentionally gloved the puck over Jarry and across the goal line, but the call on the ice was “no goal” and the call stood after review.
Meanwhile, on the ensuing power play, McAvoy fanned on a shot from the point and had to give chase to a charging shorthanded bid for the Penguins going the other way.
Halak stood tall and denied five quick shots on goal from the Pens in the dying dozen seconds or so of the middle frame.
Through 40 minutes of action in Boston, the Bruins led the Penguins, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 24-20, in shots on goal.
The B’s also led in hits (21-15) and faceoff win% (54-46), while Pittsburgh held the advantage in blocked shots (11-7), takeaways (8-4) and giveaways (10-4).
Both teams were 0/3 on the power play entering the second intermission.
Early in the final frame of regulation, Pastrnak dropped a pass to Bergeron (20) as the veteran first line center entered the attacking zone with speed and sent a wrist shot over Jarry’s glove and into the back of the net.
Pastrnak (31) had the only assist on Bergeron’s goal and Boston extended their lead to two-goals at 3:19 of the third period.
Bergeron’s goal made it, 3-1, for Boston and gave him his 11th season with 20 or more goals in his 16-year NHL career.
Midway through the final frame, the Penguins had too many skaters on the ice and sent Hornqvist to serve the bench minor at 11:42.
The Bruins didn’t convert on the ensuing legal skater advantage.
With 2:28 remaining in the game, Pittsburgh’s head coach, Mike Sullivan, pulled Jarry for an extra attacker in a last ditch effort to score two quick goals to tie the game.
The Pens followed it up with a timeout after a stoppage with 1:14 left, but the B’s held off the Penguins and their late action dominance– eventually working the puck out of the zone whereby Pastrnak had a chance to end it, but selflessly sent the puck over to Marchand (21) for the empty net goal at 19:07.
Pastrnak (32) had the only assist on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins finished off the Penguins, 4-1.
At the final horn, Boston secured the win in regulation and finished tied in shots on goal, 30-30, after Pittsburgh rallied to a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone.
The Penguins left TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (14-12), giveaways (15-6) and hits (30-23), while the Bruins finished the night leading in faceoff win% (53-47).
Pittsburgh went 0/3 and Boston went 0/4 on the power play on Thursday.
With the loss, the Pens fell to 19-3-2 when scoring the game’s first goal this season.
As a result of the win, the Bruins improved to 17-4-3 when leading after the first period and 15-0-6 when leading after two periods this season.
Boston travels to Pittsburgh to wrap up their home-and-home with the Penguins on Sunday before returning home for their last game prior to the All-Star break next Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Bruins resume play on Friday, Jan. 31st in Winnipeg thereafter.