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Penguins' struggles continue in loss to Bruins

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com

BOSTON -- Jimmy Hayes scored his first goal in 16 games and Tuukka Rask made 34 saves to help the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden on Wednesday.

Max Talbot scored in the first period and Ryan Spooner had an empty-goal for the Bruins (17-9-4).

Rask is 7-0-2 in his past nine games. After a sluggish start, he's 12-7-0 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .917 save percentage this season.

"It's just when we play our system, it's very helpful for goalies," Rask said. "Today they had a lot of shots again, but for the most part they kept them outside. So when we do that, it gives us a chance to win and keep the goals-against low."

Hayes has five goals in his first season playing for his hometown team.

"It's happened to me before, but you kind of want to find a way out of it," Hayes said of his slump. "But that's what you've got to do, go to the net and get a greasy one. You want to make sure you keep going and get a greasy one."

The Penguins (15-12-3) lost for the fifth time in their past six games (1-4-1) and they're 0-2-0 under coach Mike Sullivan. In those two games, the Penguins have scored one goal. Phil Kessel and Chris Kunitz each hit the post in addition to Rask's saves.

"Those things happen, but we've got to find a way to score some ugly ones," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "Once we get one or two, hopefully the flood gates open up for us but we can't let it bother us; at the same time, we can't accept it. I mean, yeah we hit a couple crossbars, but teams hit crossbars and they score different ways too. That's totally on us to find ways to score goals and it might have to be ugly ones until we start to get some bounces."

Talbot scored on a 2-on-1 at 9:52 of the first period to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. After Hayes' neutral-zone check forced Brian Dumoulin into a giveaway, Adam McQuaid advanced the puck up to Talbot. While Landon Ferraro drove to the net, Talbot kept the puck and beat goaltender Jeff Zatkoff high to the glove side. It was his first goal of the season and first since in 29 games dating to Feb. 28.

Hayes put the Bruins ahead 2-0 four minutes into the second period with a strong net drive. Spooner sent the puck to the front of the net and it went off Dumoulin, Zatkoff and then Hayes before crossing the goal line. Sullivan used his coach's challenge to see if there was goaltender interference on the play, but the goal was upheld upon review.

"Jimmy's going to have success by going to the net like he did tonight. He's really good at either tipping pucks or finding loose pucks," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Tonight, that's what he tried to do, and (he) had some success doing it."

The Bruins played the majority of the second period without McQuaid, who was hit in the face by a Dumoulin shot. The Penguins outshot the Bruins 18-4 in the period and held Boston without a shot for the final 14:56.

McQuaid returned for the third period despite getting 10-12 stitches in his chin.

Boston's shot drought lasted 18:59 until Brett Connolly tested Zatkoff at 4:03 of the third period. Spooner scored into an empty net with 2:43 remaining.

Zatkoff, in his first start since goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was ruled out 1-2 weeks with a concussion, made 26 saves. The Penguins were shorthanded up front too; one day after placing forward Beau Bennett (upper body) on injured reserve, the Penguins played without forward Nick Bonino because he was ill.

"I think we are playing hard," Sullivan said. "I think our energy is there. I think our effort is there. I think sometimes we don't play as smart as we can and we turn pucks over in the wrong areas of the rink and it makes for a hard game because you end up on the wrong side of the puck. You end up chasing the game a little bit. For me, one of the things I am going to try to do here over the next little while is just to try to focus on the details of what it means to try to play the right way."

The Bruins and Penguins complete their home-and-home series at Consol Energy Center on Friday.

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