Final, 6-1 Bruins: Well … that was exactly how none of us expected it to be.
Brad Marchand scored 28 seconds into the game and the Bruins never looked back. But for a quick blip late in the first, the Bruins were essentially perfect in this one, delivering a heavy blow to the mighty Penguins by seizing a 2-0 lead in Pittsburgh. The B’s now head home full of confidence, while the Penguins don’t even know who their goalie is.
Third period, 1:23, 6-1 Bruins: Johnny Boychuk, slap shot, Fleury couldn’t handle it. It’s 6-1 Bruins, and that works as the cherry on top of the sundae.
Third period, 5:49, 5-1 Bruins: The Pittsburgh fans finally made some noise … to boo an offside call late in a 5-1 game. That’s the most excited the crowd has been since the third period began. Quite a disappointing night in terms of drama, but I’m sure the Bruins don’t care. They’re minutes away from a 2-0 series lead.
Third period, 10:07, 5-1 Bruins: The Penguins got a couple of good shots on the power play, but no goal. After the power play ends, Johnny Boychuk decked Brenden Morrow into the net, and Morrow ended up hitting his face off the back of the post. Morrow remained down for a bit before skating off, expressing his displeasure with the play.
The vaunted Penguins power play, which entered the series with a success rate around 30 percent, has now been held to 0-for-6 this series.
Third period, 12:27, 5-1 Bruins: Good penalty by Milan Lucic, as he bumped Jarome Iginla to break up a possible scoring chance after Zdeno Chara had wiped out in the neutral zone.
Third period, 13:22, 5-1 Bruins: Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals has taken on the feel of a Saturday afternoon scrimmage at the local rink. Bergeron’s goal sucked any remaining life out of the building, and but for some heavy body checks laid by the men in black jerseys, there’s not much going on for the Penguins.
Third period, 19:33, 5-1 Bruins: The Bruins scored in the opening 30 seconds of the first period, and now they’ve scored in the first 30 seconds of the third period.
Jaromir Jagr had his shot blocked by Paul Martin, but he kept with the puck and sent a beauty of a backhand over to Patrice Bergeron, who had an empty net to shoot at. He doesn’t miss from there, and the B’s lead 5-1.
Good thing Jagr wasn’t scratched, eh?
Third period, 20:00, 4-1 Bruins: Twenty minutes to go, and counting, as the third is under way.
End of second period, 4-1 Bruins: And just like that, the Bruins are 20 minutes of sound hockey away from a 2-0 series lead.
The Penguins put on a little bit of a late push, ending up with seven shots on net in the second period and controlling the puck in the offensive end for a good portion of the final minutes. But Rask was able to make the necessary stops, most notably a bid from Dupuis, charging from the corner to the front of the net, and then a glove save from a split on a Paul Martin slap shot from the blue line. Rask has just 12 saves through two periods, but he’s done a great job of staying focused during the lulls in order to make the saves when he’s called upon. The Penguins’ lack of shots also has a lot to do with the Bruins, who have blocked 13 shots through 40 minutes. The Penguins have also missed the net with eight shot attempts.
Offensively, the Bruins haven’t done much, as they only had five shots themselves in that period. Four goals should be enough for them, but they ought to work on their forecheck in the final 20 to make sure the puck spends most of the third deep in the Pittsburgh end.
Second period, 5:52, 4-1 Bruins: Momentum? Well, no, none of that. The Penguins don’t even get a shot on net during their two minutes, while Gregory Campbell had a beauty of a short-handed bid early on in the Pittsburgh man advantage.
The only opportunity the Penguins got in the whole two minutes came when Johnny Boychuk accidentally kicked a puck toward Rask. The referee behind the net, for whatever reason, waited an extra two seconds to blow his whistle, leading to a bit of a wild scrum in front of Rask, but that was it. The Penguins look cooked.
Second period, 8:06, 4-1 Bruins: This could be the spark the Penguins needed, as Brad Marchand needlessly takes down Sidney Crosby to give the Penguins a power play. The broadcast crew said he took him down with his skate, but it wasn’t particularly egregious or violent. There’s a possibility Crosby helped it along but I’d need to see a replay before making that call.
Either way, Penguins to the power play. After an 0-for-4 showing in Game 1, they are due for a goal.
Second period, 8:49, 4-1 Bruins: Pretty amazing lack of push by the Penguins. They have three shots this period. Three! That’s hard to believe. Maybe they’re hoping to lull Tuukka Rask to sleep, as they’ve only forced him to make eight — eight! — total saves tonight. At least they’re keeping their shooting percentage up.
Second period, 14:11, 4-1 Bruins: If you thought the Penguins were going to come out firing looking to close the gap here, you were mistaken. Nothing doing early on. They did get one 3-0n-2 rush, but Rask saved Kunitz’s shot from the left wing. Other than that, the Penguins really haven’t done much at all here in the second.
Second period, 20:00, 4-1 Bruins: The second period is under way. I’m not one for making many prediction, but I have a feeling we won’t see five goals this period.
First intermission, 4-1 Bruins: We know the Bruins dominated the scoring, but they also dominated in shots on goal, finishing with 13 to Pittsburgh’s 6. Pittsburgh, intent on laying the wood, out-hit the Bruins 16-7 but have nothing to show for it.
Replays also showed before Marchand scored his second goal, he squared up a little bit with Matt Cooke at the Boston blue line. Marchand, seeing a play developed, got on his horse to burst down the left wing and score the goal, but he made sure to look back and talk to Cooke a bit rather than celebrating with his teammates. It was just the latest example of the Penguins putting themselves out of position by trying to engage in a street fight.
Brooks Orpik was the worst offender in that area. He took a penalty for trying to drive Krejci over the boards with a forearm, then got decked by Jagr on the play leading to the fourth goal. He — and all of his teammates — should really be more worried about playing their game and letting the goals pour in from Crosby and Malkin.
End of first period, 4-1 Bruins: And … deep breath. The first period is finally over. Take a second to read through all of the goals, in case you blinked and missed a few.
First period, :08.1, 4-1 Bruins: And, well, the Penguins’ life was short-lived. Jaromir Jagr won a little board battle with Brooks Orpik, who moments earlier tried to fight him, and ended up passing to Bergeron in the neutral zone. With a D-man well out of position, Brad Marchand had a ton of space to work with and fired a wrister past Fleury’s glove.
This game is full-on bananas. There’s on other way to describe it.
First period, :34, 3-1 Bruins: The Penguins have life. Brandon Sutter skates in and fires a perfect wrister high to the blocker side that simply beats Rask. No defensive breakdown there. Just a great shot.
First period, 3:29, 3-0 Bruins: The Bruins are blowing the doors off the Consol Energy Center.
Milan Lucic took a pass from Chara back in the Boston zone and kept the legs a-churnin’. He skated hard through the neutral zone and dished to Nathan Horton. Horton sent it back to Lucic in the slot, but with no shot, he sent a pass through his legs back to Horton. He then passed over to Krejci, who buried a wrister to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead.
That was enough for Dan Bylsma to make a change at goaltender. Marc-Andre Fleury is back in net after nearly a month off. We’ll see how that turns out, but that was anything but Vokoun’s fault.
First period, 5:23, 2-0 Bruins: Again, the Penguins get burned by trying to play with too much physicality. Brooks Orpik, fresh out of the box, took a free run at Torey Krug and crushed the D-man after sending a puck toward net. Orpik can feel good about his hit, but Vokoun gave up a rebound, and Nathan Horton was there to chip it in for the second goal of the night. B’s lead 2-0.
First period, 7:30, 1-0 Bruins: The physicality already costs the Penguins, as they go short-handed after Brooks Orpik goes overboard trying to lay a body check on David Krejci over the boards in front of the Pittsburgh bench. Bruins’ power play to work now.
First period, 12:16, 1-0 Bruins: After the B’s took the early lead, the Penguins have again looked to spend a lot of effort trying to establish their physical game. As I said all game on Saturday, that’s a suspect strategy for a team with as much talent as Pittsburgh. The Penguins would be better off letting their offense lead the way, because it’s just not easy to win a physical battle with the Bruins.
The B’s, for their part, have blocked five shots already and withstood the hits, and they hold on to their lead.
I couldn’t tell which player it was, because it happened so fast, but one Penguins skater looked like he tried to throw an elbow into the head of Torey Krug but whiffed and ended up catching a teammate.
Matt Cooke also dumped Chris Kelly in front of the neutral zone with a clean body check.
First period, 19:32, 1-0 Bruins: Well, that was fast.
Sidney Crosby couldn’t handle a puck in his own zone, leading to Brad Marchand breaking in all alone on Tomas Vokoun. Marchand casually put the puck on his forehand and beat Vokoun high to the glove side. It’s 1-0 Bruins.
First period, 20:00: The anthem’s been sung, the teams are ready, so let’s play hockey.
Patrice Bergeron vs. Sidney Crosby on the opening draw, Crosby won, and this one’s under way.
8:04 p.m.: It’ll be Bergeron, Marchand and Jagr out there to start tonight’s game. Claude Julien hasn’t made any changes to the lineup, with Matt Bartkowksi again a healthy scratch.
8 p.m.: It’s 8 o’clock, which is when they tell us the game is starting, but I imagine we’re in for another 15 or so minutes of waiting.
7:31 p.m .: Jaromir Jagr is on the ice at the Consol Energy Center right now, so that’s the first indication he won’t be scratched. The fact that this is getting attention tells you one thing: there are too many hours between games.
7:20 p.m.: It’s safe to assume Claude Julien will be sticking with the same six defenseman tonight that he used Saturday, but the absence of Jaromir Jagr at morning skate today has led to some speculation and questioning of whether the veteran forward will be a healthy scratch.
That still seems to be unlikely, but considering he hasn’t scored since April 21 and has just four assists in 13 postseason games, it might not be the worst move to take him out of the lineup. However, with the lack of known options to fill in, it might be a needless change. It would, however, open up the spot for Tyler Seguin to skate alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand yet again, which could be a benefit.
What is clear is that the Bruins need more scoring from the Bergeron and Kelly lines. What’s not clear is whether or not Claude Julien can really effect any change in that regard. He can maybe scratch a player and shake things up, but it’s really up to the players to score some goals.
6 p.m.: It’s only Game 2, but are already in “must-win” territory for the Pittsburgh Penguins?
Probably not, because the Penguins clearly have the talent to rattle off three or four straight wins against anybody, but tonight’s game is still a huge one for both sides.
For the Penguins, a loss would mean they’d have to win four of five games, with three of them taking place in Boston. And a loss in which the Bruins score three or more goals again, and you know the calls from fans and media members — reasonable or otherwise — for Marc-Andre Fleury will be coming again. The Penguins obviously would like to avoid that situation.
For the Bruins, they know that by winning tonight, they can seize control of this series, knowing they need only win two of their three home games to win the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Of course, there is far too much that can happen between now and the end of this series to even pretend to know how it will play out. After all, nobody predicted a 3-0 Bruins win in Game 1, or a Patrice Bergeron-Evgeni Malkin fight, so it’s not as if these two teams plan to stick to any sort of script (except for maybe Matt Cooke).
In any case, I think it’s safe to expect a tighter game tonight than we saw Saturday, and I expect the physical play to only get more intense. The Penguins, in my opinion, got the upper hand in the physical battle of Game 1, with the Bruins looking like they were mostly focused on absorbing the heavy blows and looking to capitalize on the open ice left by the Penguins. We’ll see what happens tonight, but I get the feeling we’ll all be noticing Shawn Thornton’s presence a little bit more.
I’ll have all the updates here from pregame, including any potential lineup changes, all the way through the final buzzer, so check back with the live blog throughout the game.