Aftermath: Bruins 4, Penguins 2
Thursday, 01.1.2009 / 7:11 PM ET / Features
By Sam Kasan
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|Pittsburgh held a players-only meeting following its last game against the Bruins in the first game of the home-and-home series. The Penguins responded to the meeting with a great effort for 60 minutes against Boston but still came up short.
The Penguins took the play to the Bruins for the majority of the game and dominated the third period, refusing to go quietly into the night. They pressured relentlessly but couldn’t upend Boston goalie Manny Fernandez.
Pittsburgh’s power play didn’t help the cause with a 0 for 5 performance and the Penguins were caught twice in defensive transition that resulted in goals against. All in all, great effort but a loss is still a loss.
|(AP) - Manny Fernandez made 30 saves to remain perfect at home and the Boston Bruins extended their winning streak to 10 games with a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
Fernandez improved to 9-0-0 at home. Boston has only two regulation losses since Oct. 30 and its winning streak is its longest since March 9-28, 1973.
With the home-and-home sweep over the Penguins, the Bruins also moved into the top spot in the NHL with 62 points, one more than idle San Jose.
David Krejci, P.J. Axelsson, Milan Lucic and Marc Savard scored for Boston. Dustin Jeffrey scored his first NHL goal, and Ruslan Fedotenko added a goal for Pittsburgh.
|SHOT OF THE NIGHT|
Dany Sabourin reaches high for a glove save against Boston (photo by Getty)
|What Worked: Work Ethic
The Penguins worked hard the entire game and never quit. They hustled and battled hard all night until the final whistle. Pittsburgh outplayed Boston during stretches of the game and dominated the entire third period. Pittsburgh didn’t get the win but you can’t blame the loss on a lackluster performance.
What Didn't Work: Power Play
The Penguins power play continues to come up with zeros. Pittsburgh went 0 for 5 on the night and had only six shots with the man-advantage. The Penguins haven’t scored a power-play goal in the last five games, going 0 for 21 during that stretch. Power-play scores are huge in close, tight games like tonight and it was the difference between winning and losing. The power play didn’t give Pittsburgh the chance to win.
|High merits should be given to Ruslan Fedotenko. His work ethic has been phenomenal since arriving in Pittsburgh. He plays at full speed on every shift and never takes a night off. Fedotenko crashes the net hard and takes the punishment necessary to get dirty goals. Fedotenko isn’t shy when it comes to fighting for pucks along the boards and has rolled with being shuffled throughout the Penguins lineup. His efforts (and hustle) paid off against Boston with his 10th goal of the season. On the goal, Fedotenko blew past the Bruins defense and then didn’t give up after his shot was stopped. He got his second attempt into the net.|
|Pittsburgh took an early 1-0 lead on Dustin Jeffrey’s first career NHL goal three minutes into the opening period. Jeffrey had the puck along the near wall in the Boston zone and sent the puck to Alex Goligoski, who was wide open at the point. Boston’s Shawn Thornton peeled off Jeffrey and challenged Goligoski, but the rookie defenseman got the puck back to Jeffrey above the circle. Jeffrey took a shot on goal that sneaked under the right arm of Boston netminder Manny Fernandez. Fernandez was playing shallow in his crease and looked surprised on the shot. Pittsburgh 1, Boston 0.
The Bruins tied the game on David Krejci’s re-direction score. Boston entered the zone with a three-on-two advantage. The Bruins used great puck movement once they gained the Penguins zone and didn’t let Pittsburgh setup its positioning. Blake Wheeler made a centering pass from the middle of the far circle that Krejci, who was atop the crease, deflected into the goal for his 14th score of the season. Pittsburgh 1, Boston 1.
The Bruins used machine-like passes on a power play to take a 2-1 lead in the game. Dennis Wideman sent a diagonal pass through Pittsburgh’s penalty killers from the far point to Marc Savard along the near goal line. Savard tried to make a centering pass to P.J. Axelsson in front of the net and Dany Sabourin dropped to his knees in anticipation of a one-timer from Axelsson. However, Penguins defenseman Hal Gill got his stick in the passing lane. The puck hit Gill’s stick and popped into the air. Axelsson alertly batted the puck out of the air and over Sabourin’s shoulder. Boston 2, Pittsburgh 1.
The Bruins used their trademark system to extend the lead. Boston traps defensively to create turnovers and then crashes the net offensively. Boston collected a Pittsburgh turnover from in its own zone and transitioned the other way. The Bruins speed created a three-on-two chance. Chuck Kobasew made a centering pass to Stephane Yelle, who smartly dropped it to Milan Lucic behind him. Yelle then ran into Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton, leaving Lucic one-on-one with Sabourin. Lucic wristed home his 11th goal of the year. Boston 3, Pittsburgh 1.
The Penguins cut into Boston’s lead with their second goal at 6:20 of the third period. Evgeni Malkin did some great stick handling in the neutral zone and got the puck to Miroslav Satan entering the Boston zone. Satan made a great forward flip pass to a streaking Ruslan Fedotenko, who was skating at full speed and sneaked behind the Bruins defense. Fedotenko was one-on-one with Fernandez and was stopped on the initial shot. But Fedotenko slammed to a stop as his momentum was carrying him behind the net and reached back to slap the puck into the goal on his backhand. Boston 3, Pittsburgh 2.
Savard picked up a loose puck in the Bruins zone and notched an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds left to clinch the victory. Boston 4, Pittsburgh 2.
|In the first game of the home-and-home against Boston, Pittsburgh dressed all seven healthy defensemen with Alex Goligoski playing wing and defense. Kris Letang returned to the lineup in the rematch, after missing the previous four games with an undisclosed injury, giving the Penguins eight healthy defensemen. The Penguins scratched Philippe Boucher and dressed the remaining seven defensemen with Letang playing wing on the third line and defense. The defensive pairings were: Rob Scuderi-Hal Gill; Brooks Orpik-Ryan Whitney; Goligoski-Mark Eaton.
Head coach Michel Therrien switched up all the forward pairings as well in the game. The new line combinations were: Pascal Dupuis-Sidney Crosby-Petr Sykora; Ruslan Fedotenko-Evgeni Malkin-Miroslav Satan; Matt Cooke-Jordan Staal-Letang; Max Talbot-Dustin Jeffrey-Tim Wallace.
The Bruins are playing their system flawlessly right now. Boston uses a trapping style on defense that limits space and creates turnovers. The Bruins then transition with speed and crash the net on offense. Pittsburgh turned the puck over on a number of occasions. Then the Penguins failed to get back into a defensive posture quickly to counter the Bruins transition and, as a result, the Bruins created a bunch of odd-man rushes - and scored two goals off of such plays.
Pittsburgh started the third period strong, spending the opening two-plus minutes of the frame in the Boston zone. It started with the Dupuis-Crosby-Sykora line. Sykora had a few one-timer opportunities. An icing forced the Bruins’ unit to stay out for an extended shift against the Fedotenko-Malkin-Satan combo. On the shifts, Pittsburgh used its defensemen well and won the puck battles along the boards to keep the pressure on.
Pittsburgh was rewarded for its early efforts as the momentum carried throughout the third period. The Penguins spent nearly the entire period in the Boston zone. They kept pressing and pressing and carried the play. Pittsburgh had one of its most inspiring periods with their relentless effort and never-say-die attitude. They outshot Boston, 15-10, and the only blemish was two penalties they took in the offensive zone.
Fernandez made a couple huge saves during the game’s final stretch. Malkin blasted a shot off of a faceoff win that Fernandez grabbed with the glove. With less than 20 seconds left in the game he stopped Sykora on a point-blank shot and covered before Fedotenko could get a chance.
|> Pittsburgh dropped to 19-15-4 on the year, with an 11-7-2 mark on the road.
> Pittsburgh outshot the Bruins, 32-26, in the game. The Penguins are 9-4-1 when they outshoot their opponent. Pittsburgh is 9-10-2 when it is outshot.
> Pittsburgh took an early 1-0 lead on Dustin Jeffrey’s first career NHL goal three minutes into the opening period. The Bruins built a 3-1 lead on goals by David Krejci (14), P.J. Axelsson (2) and Milan Lucic (11). Ruslan Fedotenko cut into the lead, 3-2, with his 10th goal of the year at 6:20 of the third period. Marc Savard slammed the door with an empty-net score (13) with 2.6 seconds left in the game.
> Evgeni Malkin had an assist against Boston to extend his NHL lead in points to 60 points (15G-45A). Malkin has eight goals and 21 assists for 29 points in his last 18 games. Malkin’s 45 assists are a league best.
> Sidney Crosby was scoreless against the Bruins. Crosby has nine goals and 19 assists for 28 points in his last 20 games. He is third in the league in scoring with 50 points (15G-35A). His 35 assists are tied for second most in the league, behind only teammate Malkin’s 45.
> Dany Sabourin made 22 saves in a losing effort to the Bruins.
> Fedotenko scored his 10th goal of the season and second score in the past four games. The Ukraine native has notched a point in three of his last four games.
> Dustin Jeffrey recorded his first career NHL goal on Pittsburgh’s opening score.
> Petr Sykora was scoreless against Boston but he has 16 points in his last 14 games (8G-8A). In his past 10 games, Sykora has six goals and six assists for 12 points.
|THREE STARS||QUOTE OF THE NIGHT|
|1. David Krejci, BOS
2. P.J. Axelsson, BOS
3. Zdeno Chara, BOS
|“A loss is a loss. Our effort was there. That’s still not
good enough. We have to find a way to have
that effort, execute and find a way to win.”
- Sidney Crosby told FSN Pittsburgh
Author: Sam Kasan