The Bruins got a 27-save performance by Tim Thomas on Tuesday night as they beat the Penguins 3-0 at TD Garden, giving Boston back-to-back wins after an 0-2-1 slide in which they scored just one goal while coping with the absence of top-six forwards Marc Savard and Milan Lucic.
The Penguins, coming off a 5-0 loss at San Jose and without stars Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar, lost another key defenseman when Brooks Orpik went down with a lower-body injury in the first period. They've now lost three straight games and haven't hasn't scored a goal in 149:09 -- their last goal came at 10:51 in the second period of their 5-2 loss to the Kings last Thursday.
The Bruins know what those offensive problems feel like.
"You could definitely see them pressing out there and we know what it's like," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said, reflecting back to his team's recent bout with injuries and an anemic offense that saw them shut out two games in a row as well (1-0 at New York on Nov. 1 and 2-0 at Detroit two nights later).
"We had the same thing happen, but we battled through. That's all you can do. Just keep your head up and stick within your system. We were playing strong defense throughout most that stretch but losing. But we stuck with it, we kept positive, kept it simple and then the offense started to come along. The last three games we really picked up that intensity and it showed."
Boston went ahead 1:36 into the second period when Matt Hunwick backhanded a rebound under the crossbar -- though he had to wait 77 seconds for a whistle so NHL officials could consult a video replay and give Boston the goal. Daniel Paille scored his first goal with the Bruins at 3:34 into the third period, and Patrice Bergeron added a shorthanded empty-netter with 3.5 seconds left.
Both teams came into the game with key players missing from the lineup. The Bruins had been without Savard (broken left foot) and Lucic (broken right index finger) for the last nine games before Tuesday and just got back David Krejci who missed the last two games with the H1N1 virus. Orpik's injury just made things even worse for the Penguins, who lost defenseman Kris Letang to a broken wrist in the loss at San Jose. In addition to Gonchar and Malkin, the Penguins are also without forwards Tyler Kennedy (groin) and Maxime Talbot (shoulder).
But as Chara pointed out, injuries are part of the game -- and while they seem to hitting some teams like the Bruins and Penguins with more frequency, every team must find ways to battle through.
"As far as the injuries go, yeah as you can see everyone goes through them," he said. "We went through it and still have guys out but you find a way."
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby expressed almost the same assessment down the hall as he faced the media scrum.
"You don't like to lose three in a row, and we've lost some guys," Crosby acknowledged. "But we have to regroup, go home and find ways to win games. Whatever the case is we have to find a way to win. The biggest thing when you are missing guys is to kind of simplify things. Everyone is kind of in new roles, so the best way is to keep it simple."
Crosby has now gone 307:17 without a point and is mired in a career-high five-game pointless streak. After the game, his former roommate and mentor, Bruins forward Mark Recchi, felt for Crosby and could relate to the current scoring woes of Crosby and the Penguins.
"When you go through it, you get frustrated and the hardest thing is to stay with it and stay positive," said Recchi, who got his 900th career assist on Paille's goal. "A lot of times when your team stops scoring goals, you tend to start cheating on the wrong side of the puck to try and create goals and I give guys credit in this room, no one went away from the system and no one tried to cheat to create offensive opportunities."
The Penguins will try and do the same as they head home for their next three games.
"We need to find ways to adapt, still play our game and still get into the offensive zone," coach Dan Bylsma said. "We were better at that [Tuesday] but there are still areas we can improve on and need to improve on in order to play the way we want to play and how we expect to play."
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