PENGUINS at BRUINS
(Boston leads best-of-7 series, 2-0)
TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS
Big story: In the previous round, the Chicago Blackhawks faced a 3-1 series deficit against the Detroit Red Wings before rallying to advance; now the NHL's other dominant team during the regular season, the Pittsburgh Penguins, finds its back against the wall after losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Final on home ice. The Boston Bruins chased Tomas Vokoun from Game 2 and further muddled the Penguins' goaltending situation. Back home for a pair of games at TD Garden, they'll attempt to turn what most experts predicted as a six- or seven-game series into something much shorter.
Penguins: When Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma turned to Vokoun for Game 5 against the New York Islanders in the first round, it might have been with the mindset of giving struggling starter Marc-Andre Fleury a quick breather. But Vokoun shut out the Islanders that night and went on a run of six wins in seven games, making it impossible for Bylsma to go back to the man who led his team to the Stanley Cup four years ago.
Vokoun couldn't be faulted much for Pittsburgh's 3-0 loss to Boston in Game 1, but after he gave up three goals on 12 shots in the first period Monday, the move was made, and Fleury was back in the crease. The Penguins seemed to seize momentum when Brandon Sutter scored with 34 seconds left in the first, but Fleury allowed a goal 25 seconds later by Brad Marchand on the first shot he faced. Fleury ended up stopping 14 of 17 shots and it's questionable whether he showed Bylsma enough to earn the Game 3 start in what will be hostile territory.
"It's not a feeling where we want to be, but we have a lot of experience in the room and I know a lot of the guys have been down and won a series before," Fleury said. "So we'll just put those two behind us and make sure we get back to our game."
Bruins: Following the morning skate prior to Game 2, Boston coach Claude Julien and many of his players spoke to how the Bruins would need to improve on the effort that produced a 3-0 win in the series opener if they wanted to take a two-game lead back home with them. From the drop of the opening faceoff, which led to Marchand's first of two goals 28 seconds in, they did just that.
The Bruins were all over the Penguins at both ends of the ice, adding goals by the red-hot duo of Nathan Horton and David Krejci to chase Vokoun. After giving up a goal in the final minute of the first that looked like it could change momentum, Marchand got it right back. Goaltender Tuukka Rask followed a flawless Game 1 performance with a 26-save win. The Bruins have won seven of eight since nearly blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.
"We pretty much dominated that game," Rask said. "Our defense was really good not giving them too many scoring chances at all."
Who's hot: Horton has five points in the series. He's posted three goals and five assists during a four-game points streak. Krejci has three goals and continues to lead in playoff scoring with 20 points. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who had one goal and six points in 44 games during the regular season, has five goals and six points in 14 postseason contests after posting a goal and an assist Monday. Rask has allowed one goal or fewer in four of his past five starts.
Injury report: It's expected Boston defenseman Wade Redden, who hasn't played since suffering an upper-body injury in the first round, could play if the Bruins needed him, but the return to health of Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference coupled with the emergence of rookie Torey Krug makes that an unlikely scenario.