Final, 3-0 Bruins: The Bruins withstood some heavy, heavy pressure from the Penguins, capitalized on their chances and skated away with a 3-0 victory and a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
It was a complete effort from Boston, with the hard work of the penalty kill playing a huge role in the victory, and it was a hard-earned win.
Third period, 1:50, 3-0 Bruins: The frustration continues for the Penguins, as Sidney Crosby gives a slash to Tyler Seguin. He’ll spend the rest of regulation in the penalty box, unless the Bruins pot a fourth one here.
Third period, 4:43, 3-0 Bruins: The broadcast cameras show scores of Penguins fans making their way out of the arena. What a night.
Third period, 12:09, 3-0 Bruins: Dare I say, the rout is on?
Gregory Campbell throws a puck on net from the corner, and Vokoun’s kick save sends the puck right onto Nathan Horton’s stick with a wide open net staring him in the face. It’s 3-0 Bruins, and the Consol Energy Center has gone silent.
Third period, 15:56, 2-0 Bruins: Nathan Horton won a board battle against Mark Eaton and fed the puck to David Krejci. He put a shot on net, and Vokoun deflected the puck straight up into the air with his glove. Krejci continued skating to the net and waited until the puck hit the ice to give it another whack. That one made its way past Vokoun and into the net, and the Bruins lead 2-0.
Third period, 18:00, 1-0 Bruins: The vaunted Penguins power play has now been held to an 0-for-4 night thus far by the Bruins’ penalty kill. It’s clearly been a difference maker.
Third period, 20:00, 1-0: The Penguins have 1:30 of power play time as the third period begins.
End of second period, 1-0 Bruins: The second period ends with a bit of mayhem. First, Brad Marchand went out of his way to deliver an extra shove to the back of James Neal in front of the Pittsburgh bench. It drew the ire of the Penguins, who clearly looked like they wanted to see Marchand given the same penalty as Cooke, but only drew two minutes from the refs.
With 30 seconds of power play time before the end of the period, Pittsburgh created a mad scramble in front of Rask’s net, but he was able to eventually cover up the puck. After that whistle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kunitz both got penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for roughing each other up.
Then, following a faceoff and a clear, the two teams began skating to their benches as the horn sounded. But Chris Kelly and Jarome Iginla got tangled up at center ice, and at the same time Sidney Crosby gave a shove or two to Tuukka Rask. In the middle of it, Patrice Bergeron began shoving Evgeni Malkin. The two star centers began exchanging punches before finally dropping the gloves. Malkin took Bergeron down to the ice and continued punching before the linesmen separated the two.
As if you needed any further proof that you can’t predict sports, a Bergeron-Malkin throwdown at center ice in a playoff game really makes the case.
As far as strategy goes, Dan Bylsma would have to be nuts to let his team continue to try to beat the Bruins in a toughness battle. If you’re going to beat the Bruins, you can do it with skill and speed, but generally not with brawn. The Penguins aren’t a bunch of weaklings — like, say, the ’11 Canucks — but very few teams can stand toe to toe against the Bruins and walk away as winners. The Penguins are good enough where they don’t need a line brawl to beat the Bruins. And conversely, it’s what makes the Bruins their best.
Second period, 1:36, 1-0 Bruins: Boston has really done a great job of taking control of this game in the latter half of the second period. Of course, that can all be erased with one Pittsburgh shot, but hard work has been paying off for Claude Julien’s club thus far.
Second period, 6:30, 1-0 Bruins: The B’s penalty kill actually generated more opportunities than the Pittsburgh power play, including a Patrice Bergeron breakaway thanks to some interference by Brad Marchand.
Tuukka Rask did catch a break when Chris Kunitz hit the post on a shot off a rebound early in the power play. That’s one lucky break to zero early in this series, if you want to keep track.
Second period, 8:56, 1-0 Bruins: The Penguins’ power play essentially scores once every three opportunities. Here comes attempt No. 3 on the night, as Nathan Horton goes off for slashing.
Second period, 10:30, 1-0 Bruins: Good news for Boston, as Adam McQuaid returns to the ice.
Second period, 12:15, 1-0 Bruins: The three-minute man advantage was much better looking than the earlier power plays, but the result is the same.
What the power play did do was tilt the ice a bit, though that can be canceled out now that the Penguins can build some momentum after the long kill.
Second period, 18:28, 1-0 Bruins: Matt Cooke gave Adam McQuaid a good shove from behind, leaving McQuaid lying face-down on the ice behind the Boston net.
It wasn’t a vicious hit, but it was clearly from behind, and the contact led to McQuaid smashing his face off the glass.
Cooke was penalized for boarding and was given a game misconduct. It won’t be a power play for Boston though, as Kelly picked up a roughing minor after the play. They’ll get a power play after two minutes of 4-0n-4.
As far as Matt Cooke dirty hits go, that one doesn’t even make the top 10 list. But it was very clearly from behind, and it resulted in an injury to McQuaid, who had to head to the locker room to get checked out with what we can assume was a head injury. Though it wasn’t outrageously egregious, it still warranted a penalty.
Second period, 20:00, 1-0 Bruins: Patrice Bergeron went 6-for-9 at the dot in the first, and he just started the second with a win against Crosby. Second period under way.
End of first period, 1-0 Bruins: Boston escapes the first period without Pittsburgh scoring … just barely. An Evgeni Malkin backhand on a bouncing puck slipped under Rask’s left pad and crept ever so slowly along the goal line, eventually going around the post and out of harm’s way.
As far as the first 20 minutes as a whole go, the Penguins have been the more physical team and the more dangerous offensive team. With all the chances the Penguins are creating, there’s really no way they’re going to be shut out, so the Bruins know they have to make the most of their scoring opportunities.
They’ve already wasted four minutes of power play time, with zero shots on their two power plays. The Penguins manged five shots on net in their two power plays, and the Bruins are lucky to have kept them off the board.
Still, despite the special teams issues, the scoreboard is what matters most. And the Bruins are likely right where they want to be after 20 minutes.
First period, 3:03, 1-0 Bruins: Brooks Orpik got in the way of Chris Kelly in the neutral zone, and he was penalized for interference. The refs are clearly calling that one tonight. The B’s would like an awful lot to pot one here before intermission.
First period, 3:38, 1-0 Bruins: The goal drought continues for Jagr, who let loose a nifty little snapper low to the right side. Vokoun made the toe save and then gloved Jagr’s rebound attempt.
First period, 5:12, 1-0 Bruins: Another penalty kill for the Bruins, this one equally as harrowing after Dennis Seidenberg lost his stick and ended up taking Chris Kelly’s. Kelly had to hold his ground without a stick, but the blood-and-guts effort from the Boston penalty kill was able to block a couple of shots before getting the puck out of harm’s way.
First period, 7:36, 1-0 Bruins: Pittsburgh power play back in action, after Bergeron had no option but to hook Malkin from behind to prevent a scoring opportunity. Hold your breath …
First period, 8:17, 1-0 Bruins: That was a very bad power play showing for the Bruins. No goals, no shots, no puck possession really.
First period, 10:38, 1-0 Bruins: The B’s have a chance here to double the lead, as Sidney Crosby gets whistled for interference after he hip-checked Patrice Bergeron away from the play.
First period, 11:32, 1-0 Bruins: The Penguins had about eight or nine quality scoring chances in the early going, and all they have to show for it is a 1-0 deficit.
David Krejci found a lot of open space in the high slot, and he let a slap shot rip. With Andrew Ference hanging out near the net, Krejci’s shot hit Paul Martin in the skates and deflected through the legs of Tomas Vokoun. It’s 1-0 Bruins, and the Pittsburgh crowd is momentarily stunned.
First period, 13:21, 0-0: The Penguins got at least four quality shots on the power play, but Rask stands tall and the Bruins are able to kill the power play. They’re really going to want to keep that Pittsburgh power play off the ice though, because that was dicey.
First period, 16:06, 0-0: Well, perhaps the biggest key to the series will be the Penguins’ power play, and they’ll get their first chance now. David Krejci got his stick blade underneath Evgeni Malkin’s skate, and the B’s center heads to the box for tripping.
First period, 20:00: Finally, at long last, we have hockey. Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff against Sidney Crosby, Game 1 is under way.
8:13 p.m.: Well, there you go — Andrew Ference is back, and Matt Bartkowski will sit. The veteran experience wins over the offensive potential of Bartkowski.
No matter what Claude Julien decided to do, he was going to open himself up to potential criticism, but going with the guy who has 110 postseason games on his resume is never a bad idea. It’ll be worth watching how up to speed he looks, but he’ll have to be at his best tonight.
8:10 p.m.: Here are the Boston starters:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jaromir Jagr
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
So the monster known as the CHARDENBERG has been broken up, at least to start this one. It’s not completely surprising, considering how dangerous Pittsburgh’s top two lines are. But considering it was a point of emphasis all week, it’s worth noting and keeping an eye on as the game progresses.
8:08 p.m.: We’ve been waiting for a week, so what’s another couple of minutes?
We seem to be looking at a puck drop around 8:17 p.m. or so.
7:47 p.m.: Based on reports from line rushes, Andrew Ference does appear to be the odd man out. The pairs were Chara-Seidenberg, Bartkowski-Boychuk, Krug-McQuaid to start, with Ference filling in for Bartkowski the second time around.
7:45 p.m.: It looks like that walking boot on Ference earlier was just a precaution, as he is on the ice for pregame warmups. That means he’s still a candidate to play tonight, so we won’t know if Claude will be making a change on the blue line for a little bit longer.
7:42 p.m.: The early game just ended, with the Blackhawks coming back from a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 at home in Game 1, and the stage is now set for the Bruins and Penguins to get under way..
5:45 p.m.: Finally — finally — it’s time for Boston Bruins hockey.
After a seven-day break that might as well have been seven years long, the Bruins and Penguins will finally take the ice tonight for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Both teams certainly appreciated the time for rest, but with the type of rust that may have developed after the teams stepped out of playoff intensity for quite a long time, it’s fair to say that tonight’s game is hard to predict. Goalies haven’t seen shots in game action, D-men haven’t chased down pesky forwards, and goal scorers haven’t been picking corners in the flow of a game, so whichever players can overcome that best are likely to make the difference. Really, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a 7-6 barnburner or a 1-0 nail-biter, and that’s why we’ll all tune in with great anticipation.
As for the Bruins, it seems like Claude Julien’s time to make a tough call on his blue line will not come tonight. WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche tweeted from Pittsburgh that he saw Andrew Ference at the Consol Energy Center, and the veteran defenseman was wearing a walking boot.
So, presuming the walking boot is an indication that Ference isn’t ready to play, it’ll be Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug in the lineup again tonight.
As for the forward lines, I don’t think there will be any change — at least not to start. There’s been a small movement of people pushing for Tyler Seguin to move back up to the line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, but I think Claude is going to keep Jaromir Jagr in there. He made the change for a reason at the end of the Toronto series, and while Seguin’s played hard, he hasn’t really shown much reason for Claude to put him back on the Bergeron line.
All of that, of course, is subject to change. Stick with the live blog right here for any and all updates through warmups, past puck drop and all the way until one of these teams has a 1-0 series lead.