Penguins edge Bruins, 3-2
Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin (71) has a shot blocked by Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin (71) checks Boston Bruins' Daniel Paille (20) into the boards during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Boston Bruins' Jarome Iginla (12) falls to the ice after colliding with Pittsburgh Penguins' Kris Letang, left, in front of Penguins' Evgeni Malkin (71) and Bruins' Milan Lucic (17) in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PITTSBURGH – Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen scored in a 6:58 span in the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins held on for a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins last night.
Chris Kunitz also scored for the Penguins, who gained a small measure of revenge on the Bruins after Boston swept them out of the playoffs last spring.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 shots for Pittsburgh, including a sliding save on David Krejci just before the final horn. Sidney Crosby picked up an assist to push his points total to an NHL-high 21.
Patrice Bergeron and Jarome Iginla scored for Boston. Tuukka Rask finished with 28 saves, but couldn’t stop the Bruins from dropping a road game for the first time this season.
The meeting between the teams was the first since Boston’s four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference finals, when the Bruins suffocated the NHL’s highest scoring team into submission. The Penguins scored only twice in nearly 14 periods of hockey, undone by Boston’s defense and a near flawless performance by Rask, who stopped 134 of 136 shots in the series.
Nearly five months later, little has changed. The new season is barely four weeks old yet the intensity level appeared more appropriate for May.
Kunitz gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the second period when he collected a shot from teammate Kris Letang with his chest then backhanded it by Rask with his back to the net. The power-play goal was the fifth given up by the Bruins in their last seven penalty kills.
Bergeron tied it 1:05 into the third period with a tricky deflection between his legs over Fleury’s shoulder.
Then things got interesting. Sutter took a pass from Pascal Dupuis and raced in on Rask, wristing a shot over the goalie’s shoulder for his first regular-season goal since April. Jokinen followed with 3:02 remaining when he forced a turnover high in Boston’s zone and broke in on Rask, whisking the puck past Rask’s stick for his sixth goal.
The Penguins ended up needing the cushion.
Iginla’s slap shot from the point zipped by Fleury with 1:43 left and Boston spent the final 90 seconds buzzing the Pittsburgh net but failed to find the equalizer.
The injury-riddled Penguins have tweaked their formula a bit since June, trying to play a bit more responsibly on their end of the ice while still relying on Crosby and Malkin to carry the offense. It’s led to a typically strong start, one buoyed by impressive play from Fleury. The goalie entered the night with a 1.79 goals-against average through 10 games, the best start of his career.
Boston’s roster underwent a slightly more aggressive overhaul, including the signing of Iginla. He spent two months with the Penguins last spring in search of his first Stanley Cup title after more than 15 years in Calgary. He produced five goals and six assists in 13 regular-season games with Pittsburgh and had four more goals in the playoffs but disappeared against the Bruins, as did the rest of the Penguins.
Iginla’s return barely caused a stir. There was no video tribute or hand from the crowd. Only when he was knocked to the ice by Malkin and Kris Letang to end the first period – and again dropped by Malkin in the second – did a faint level of disapproval arise.
∎ Krejci’s points streak ended at seven.
∎ The Penguins wore special purple jerseys during warmups. The jerseys will be signed and then auctioned off to raise money for the Mario Lemieux Foundation as part of “Hockey Fights Cancer” campaign.
∎ The Bruins host Anaheim tonight. The Penguins are off until tomorrow night, when Columbus visits.
∎ The Penguins scratched injured D Rob Scuderi and injured Fs Chuck Kobasew and Matt D’Agostini.
∎ F Loui Eriksson and D Matt Bartkowski were scratched by the Bruins.