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Game Three Preview: PIT @ BOS

by Eric Russo / Boston Bruins – The Bruins know what it’s like to overcome a two-games-to-none deficit. They also know what it’s like to blow series leads. So it is for that reason that the Black & Gold aren’t ready to write off their Eastern Conference finals series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The B’s may have won the first two games of the series by a combined score of 9-1 – both on the road – but they aren’t getting too excited.

“Any time you can come back from a road trip like that, having won both games, it’s encouraging,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien, while speaking to reporters at Hanscom Field after the team arrived back home on Tuesday.

“Our team is really playing good hockey right now, without a doubt the best we’ve had this year. That has to continue to beat these guys. Like I said [Monday] night, we were in the same position as Pittsburgh a few years ago and we worked our way back into it. I think we understand the situation here.

“We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves here. We need to understand that these next games are crucial for us, just as much as it is for them.”

David Krejci, who remains the league’s leading scorer in the playoffs, with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists), echoed the sentiments of his coach.

“The past few years I think we’ve been up 2-0 in a series,” said the center. “We’ve been down 2-0, and it went either way, so I think we’ve learned from that and we’ve got to stay in the moment and just take it game by game.

“We’re going to have to play even better than we did because they’re going to be desperate. It’s a really important game. It’s a big difference if it’s 3-0 for us or 2-1 for us, so it’s going to be a big game.

“The game is going to start from 0-0 so we’ve got to be ready to get off [with] a good start.”

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Bruins have been a good penalty-killing team all season long, and it has continued against the Penguins. Through two games, the B’s are a perfect 6-for-6 on the PK. The Penguins have also kept the Bruins off the board; they are 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.

BETWEEN THE PIPES: Tuukka Rask has been outstanding to this point in the series, having allowed just one goal on 56 shots through two games. Rask registered his first career playoff shutout in Game One and kept the Bruins in the game during the first two periods with a number of outstanding stops. The Finland native was just as sharp in Game Two.

“A lot,” said Julien of how much confidence Rask gives the team. “Again, our team’s playing probably it’s best hockey this year right now, but so is Tuukka. I think he’s been unbelievable so far in this series. He’s been good throughout the whole playoffs, but he seems to have brought his game up a notch here as well.”

The Penguins have struggled between the pipes. Tomas Vokoun was pulled in Game Two in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury, after allowing three goals in the first 17 minutes of the game. Fleury, who was replaced by Vokoun in the first round of the playoffs, didn’t fare much better, allowing three goals of his own. Either is a possibility to start Game Three tonight.

LOOSE ENDS: Nathan Horton was plus-2 in Game Two, adding to his league-leading plus/minus total that now stands at plus-19...Brad Marchand was a plus-4 in Game Two to lead the Bruins...The four goals by the Bruins in the first period of Game Two were the most the b’s have put up in one period since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final against Vancouver, when they accomplished the feat three times...The six-goal outburst in Game Two was the most the Bruins have scored in the playoffs since an 8-1 win over the Canucks in Game Three of the Cup Final in 2011...Johnny Boychuk remains atop the league for goals among defenseman after potting his fifth of the postseason in Game Two...Rich Peverley won eight of nine faceoffs, good for a success rate of 89 percent.

INJURIES: With Andrew Ference returning to the lineup in Game One against the Penguins, the Bruins are in good health.

“As good as can be this time of year,” said Julien of his team’s health.

Against the Rangers, however, the Bruins struggled with injuries on the back end. Dennis Seidenberg, Wade Redden, and Ference were all out, forcing Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, and Matt Bartkowski into action. Julien credited the team’s depth as the main reason why the team has been able to succeed despite some injuries to key players at different points in the playoffs.

“I think it’s just a matter of having enough depth,” said the B’s bench boss. “We talked about that before the playoffs. It’s been challenged during the playoffs and it’s been answered. We’ve been challenged with some injuries and guys have stepped in and done and unbelievable job of answering the call. That’s why we’re still here.”

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