Bruins draw first blood
PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins faced off in a playoff series for the first time in 21 years on Saturday night in the Eastern Conference finals.
Both teams were looking to take the first step toward getting back to the Stanley Cup Finals for a second time within the past four years. The Penguins captured the Cup in 2009 and the Bruins won it in 2011.
The Bruins took the first step, shutting out the high-octane Penguins 3-0 on the strength of two David Krejci goals and strong penalty killing that stopped all four of Pittsburgh's power play chances.
Game 2 will be Monday night in Pittsburgh.
Coming into the game, the Penguins had been averaging more than four goals per game in the postseason.
The Bruins struck first when Krejci, the points leader in the playoffs, fired a slap shot that deflected off of defenseman Paul Martin and through the legs of Pittsburgh netminder Tomas Vokoun at 8:23 of the first period. Martin had gone to the ice to block the shot, but it ended up right in front of Vokoun when the shot deflected off him.
The Penguins nearly tied the score with just two seconds left in the first period when a shot trickled off Tuukka Rask's pads and rolled just wide of the left post.
The series' first controversy occurred early in the second period when Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid from behind. However, the Bruins did not get to work with the full five minutes of the penalty because Chris Kelly also received a two-minute minor for roughing for going after Cooke. McQuaid was stymied but remained in the game.
Pittsburgh received a third power play opportunity at 11:04 of the second period and nearly tied the score seconds into the opportunity, but Chris Kunitz grabbed a rebound and rang it off the left post. Meanwhile, the Bruins had a golden opportunity of their own during the same power play when Patrice Bergeron snuck around forward Evgeni Malkin on the point and broke in alone on a breakaway, but Vokoun was ready and turned aside the attempt.
Late in the second period, the Penguins went back on the man-advantage and Malkin rang another shot off the post.
After the second period clock hit zero, a scrum ensued at center ice. When the players began pairing off, it was Malkin, last season's MVP, dropping the gloves with Bergeron. Both received five-minute majors for fighting.
The fight seemed to give the Bruins momentum, which ultimately lead to a second Boston goal. Krejci struck again at 4:04 of the third when he found his own rebound and pushed it past Vokoun. Krejci's initial wrist shot struck Vokoun in the shoulder and popped high in the air, causing the Pittsburgh goalie to lose track of the puck. Krejci, however, followed the flight of the puck and was able to slide it in despite Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang's attempt to bat it out of midair.
The Bruins dashed any hope of a Pittsburgh comeback with a third goal that came off the stick of Nathan Horton when he wristed a shot past Vokoun at 7:51 of the third period.
Rask made 29 saves in the shutout and Vokoun had 27 saves.
NOTES: The official attendance was 18,628 and Pittsburgh's 285th consecutive sellout. ... The Penguins have an eight-game postseason winning streak against Boston. The Bruins' last postseason win against the Penguins was Game 2 of the 1991 Wales Conference Finals in Boston Garden. ... Of the 17 lifetime playoff games between the Penguins and Bruins not decided in overtime, only two have been one-goal decisions. ... The Bruins have 40 or more shots in six of their 13 playoff games thus far. ... The Penguins have 11 players on their roster that have won at least one Stanley Cup. The Bruins have 19. ... Scratches for Pittsburgh included forwards Tanner Glass and Joe Vitale and defenseman Deryk Engelland. Scratches for Boston included forwards Jay Pandolfo and Chris Borque and defensemen Wade Redden and Matt Bartkowski.