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Aftermath: Bruins 5, Penguins 2

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
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Pittsburgh became the latest victim of the Boston Bruins machine. The Bruins are unstoppable right now, winning their ninth game in a row and 14 of their past 15 contests.

Marc-Andre Fleury made a lot of key saves early to keep Pittsburgh in the game and the Penguins were playing punch-for-punch against Boston through two periods. But the Bruins are just playing at another level of hockey right now and it caught up with Pittsburgh.

The Penguins created a number of scoring opportunities but Tim Thomas showed why he is ranked among the NHL’s elite goalies. He made save after save to frustrate the Penguins, and eventually Boston took control of the game.

The Penguins held a players-only meeting following the game. It will be interesting to see how the group responds.
(AP) -Marc Savard scored a power-play goal, then set up Boston's next two goals with excellent playmaking, and the streaking Bruins ran their longest winning streak in nearly 26 years to nine games by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 Tuesday night.

Savard had his usual big game against Pittsburgh, and Dennis Wideman had a goal and two assists as the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins improved to 23-2-1 in their last 26 games, outscoring opponents 106-51.

Boston, which barely made the playoffs last season, hasn't had a run like this since the Barry Pederson- and Ray Bourque-led 1982-83 team won nine in a row in January, tied one, then won their next five. These Bruins are 14-1 since Thanksgiving and have won their last five on the road.

Brooks Orpik lays into Milan Lucic (photo by Getty)
What Worked: Scoring Chances
The Penguins generated a number of quality scoring opportunities. Boston’s Tim Thomas made 32 saves and a number of great stops to prevent Pittsburgh from building momentum. Thomas stopped Jordan Staal on a breakaway one-timer while the Penguins were shorthanded. He also stoned Sidney Crosby in the slot after a great setup from Evgeni Malkin.

What Didn't Work: Penalties
Pittsburgh took 10 penalties (eight penalty kill situations) in the game against the Bruins. Boston’s power play is too lethal to give that many opportunities and the Bruins converted two man-advantage goals. Some of the penalties were a lack of discipline while others were from Penguins being out of position. 
Marc Savard notched a three-point night against the Penguins with a goal and two assists. He also finished the night with a plus-2 rating. Savard baited Marc-Andre Fleury to drop into the butterfly stance and then roofed a wrist shot over his shoulder on a power play. Savard picked up a Pittsburgh turnover and setup Phil Kessel for an easy tap-in score. While killing a penalty, Savard lured Evgeni Malkin towards him and dished a flip pass to Martin St. Pierre, who would score a shorthanded goal.
Pittsburgh got on the board first late in the first period on Petr Sykora’s 13th goal of the season. Much credit on the goal belongs to linemates Ruslan Fedotenko and Dustin Jeffrey. Fedotenko skated the puck into the zone and took a hit to get it deep. Jeffrey picked it up in the corner and sent a bad-angle shot on net while Fedotenko went to the slot. Bruins Tim Thomas made the initial save but kicked the rebound to Fedotnko, who got a shot on net. Thomas gave up a second rebound and Sykora sent a difficult backhand shot into the goal. The assist for Jeffrey was his first career NHL point. Pittsburgh 1, Boston 0.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara tied the game on a power play 4:46 into the second period. Chara sneaked into the backdoor and P.J. Axelsson made a great pass through the heart of Pittsburgh’s penalty kill unit. Chara’s one-timer beat a sprawling Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh 1, Boston 1.

Boston took the lead with another power-play goal, this one off the stick of Marc Savard. Dan Krejci sent the puck diagonally to Savard, who was standing along the goal line to the left of the net. Fleury came sliding across on his knees in anticipation of a one-timer. However, Savard held the puck and with Fleury down, roofed it over the netminder’s shoulder. Boston 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis hooked up for the game-tying goal 15 minutes into the second period. Chara was attempting to clear a puck off the glass from the Boston zone when Crosby gloved it down. He then went cross ice to Dupuis, who ripped a full-wind up slap shot from the near circle that cleared Thomas’ shoulder and hit the top corner. Thomas was way out of the net to challenge and Dupuis made the perfect shot. Pittsburgh 2, Boston 2.

Boston reclaimed the lead off of a Pittsburgh turnover in its own zone. Evgeni Malkin was trying to get the puck out but his pass went off of Savard’s skate and right to Axelsson in the slot. Fleury knocked down the shot with his glove but Savard picked up the rebound and sent a cross-crease pass to Phil Kessel, who slammed in the puck. Boston 3, Pittsburgh 2.

Boston increased its lead with a shorthanded score. Crosby tried to make a backdoor pass to Ryan Whitney, who was sneaking deep on the play. The Bruins intercepted the pass and had a three-on-one with Evgeni Malkin as the lone Penguin back. Savard carried the puck and Malkin pressured him at the Pittsburgh blue line. Savard managed to get a flip pass to a streaking Martin St. Pierre, who was all alone on Fleury and scored his first goal of the season. Boston 4, Pittsburgh 2.

Boston increased its lead on Dennis Wideman’s eighth goal of the season. Nothing spectacular on the play, Wideman just tee-ed up a slap shot from above the near circle that appeared to be deflected. Either way, top-shelf goal. Boston 5, Pittsburgh 2.
The Penguins dressed seven defensemen for the game with: Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi, Ryan Whitney, Hal Gill - returning after missing 10 games, Mark Eaton, Philippe Boucher and Alex Goligoski. Since it was Gill’s first game back, the team wanted seven blueliners in case he had a setback or wasn’t condition-ready to play an entire game. Goligoski, being the odd-man out, saw action on the blue line and as a forward on the fourth line with Tim Wallace and Dustin Jeffrey.

The first period had a ton of flow and rhythm to it. Both teams had great chances to score but goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Tim Thomas were equal to the task. Thomas made two consecutive saves on Petr Sykora and stopped Matt Cooke on a shorthanded breakaway. Fleury had the busier opening frame with nine saves in the first eight-plus minutes. He stopped Michael Ryder from point blank by getting his paddle along the goal line. Then he stopped Stephane Yelle when the centerman grabbed a rebound with his glove in the crease and tried to drop it and jam it into the goal.

Thomas made an incredible save to preserve Boston’s lead early in the third period. Pascal Dupuis and Jordan Staal had a two-on-one break while the Penguins were shorthanded. Dupius sent a pass over to to Staal, who was wide open in the slot. Staal one-timed a shot but Thomas made a split-pad save.

With a little over three minutes left in the game, Tim Wallace dropped the gloves with tough-guy Milan Lucic. Wallace got the worst of the fight and absorbed a number of shots but refused to go down. He took punch after punch and countered with a few shots of his own. Wallace even fell down but instead of waiting for the linesmen to jump in, Wallace jumped back up to continue the fight. Lucic initiated the dispute with a punch to the back of Wallace’s head. Wallace didn’t back down against a much bigger guy. He deserves a lot of credit for showing some guts and did an incredible job considering.
> Pittsburgh dropped to 19-14-4 on the year, with an 8-7-2 mark at Mellon Arena.

> The Bruins outshot Pittsburgh, 40-34, in the game. Pittsburgh is 9-10-2 when it is outshot.

> Petr Skora gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead with his 13th score of the year at 17:00 of the first period. Boston took a 2-1 lead on power-play goals from Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard. The Penguins tied the game, 2-2, on Pascal Dupuis’ ninth score of the year. The Bruins reclaimed the lead, 3-2, on Phil Kessel’s 23rd goal of the campaign at 16:43 of the second period. Martin St. Pierre scored his first goal this season on a shorthanded tally at 5:28 of the third period. Boston increased its lead, 5-2, on Dennis Wideman’s eighth goal of the season.

> Evgeni Malkin was held scoreless against Boston but still leads the NHL in points with 59 points (15G-44A). Malkin has eight goals and 20 assists for 28 points in his last 17 games. Malkin’s 44 assists are a league best.

> Sidney Crosby notched an assist against the Bruins. Crosby has nine goals and 19 assists for 28 points in his last 19 games. (He is second in the league in scoring with 50 points (15G-35A). His 35 assists are second most in the league, behind only teammate Malkin’s 44.

> The Penguins have the top two scorers in the NHL in Malkin (15+44=59) and Crosby (15+35=50). The last time Pittsburgh had the top two scorers in the league was the 1995-96 season when Mario Lemieux (first) and Jaromir Jagr (second) topped the NHL. The team also had that distinction when Lemieux (first) and Kevin Stevens (second) did it in 1991-92.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves in the losing effort against the Bruins.

> Pascal Dupuis scored his ninth goal of the season in the second period. He has three points in his last two games after recording a goal and an assist in Pittsburgh’s game against Montreal Dec. 27.

> Petr Sykora scored his 13th goal against Boston. He has 16 points in his last 13 games (8G-8A). In his past nine games, Sykora has six goals and six assists for 12 points.

> Dustin Jeffrey recorded his first career NHL point on an assist on the first Pittsburgh goal.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 84th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,132.
1. Marc Savard, BOS
2. Dennis Wideman, BOS
3. Phil Kessel, BOS
“It’s easy to be a good teammate when you’re winning games.
It’s stretches like this that test guy’s character and your
true colors kind of show.”
- Brooks Orpik


Author: Sam Kasan

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