Bruins put wretched Penguins in deep hole
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) looks up at the score clock as he sits on the bench next to James Neal (18) and head coach Dan Bylsma during the final minutes of their loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their NHL Eastern Conference finals hockey playoff series in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 3, 2013. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
It’s not just that the Pittsburgh Penguins are down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference final, but the way they’ve excavated the hole.
Let’s not take anything away from the Boston Bruins, who are now heading home in control of this series with games at the TD Garden Wednesday and Friday night.
They took what Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang gave them – fat turnovers – in their 6-1 win Monday night, issuing the Penguins nothing in return.
Crosby had another wretched night, fumbling the puck at the Boston line less than 30 seconds into the game and handing Boston’s Brad Marchand a breakaway that he cashed in at the 28-second mark.
“Tonight was terrible. There’s no other way to describe it,” said Crosby, who was held pointless in back-to-back games for the first time this season and is now minus-3 for the series. “We weren’t good, really, in any area. A loss is a loss, it’s frustrating, but you really don’t like giving them one like that. We didn’t do a lot of things to give ourselves a chance to win. This one we have to forget pretty quickly and find a way to dig ourselves out of his hole going to Boston.”
Letang had a decidedly un-Norris night, whipping a puck up the middle from behind his net that was picked off and resulted in a goal by Boston’s Nathan Horton to make it 2-0.
What’s that they say about your best players?
Pittsburgh centre Evgeni Malkin was a no-show Monday night on a long list for the Penguins.
Jarome Iginla? He looks lost out there.
On the other side, Boston’s Jaromir Jagr, to whom the Bruins turned when Iginla spurned a chance to be traded to the Bruins, had two assists and was a plus-3 on the night.
The Bruins line of Marchand, Jagr and Patrice Bergeron, who scored to make it 5-1 27 seconds into the third, combined for six points and a plus-10.
Then there’s Boston’s David Krejci, the post-season’s leading scorer.
He just keeps rolling along.
Registering his eighth goal of the playoffs, capping a gorgeous three-way passing play with Horton and Milan Lucic, Krejci’s goal chased Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun and Marc-Andre Fleury’s exile was ended, though it was not going to go well.
After Pittsburgh’s Brandon Sutter picked the top corner on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask with 34 seconds left in the first period, Marchand scored his second of the game with nine seconds left in the period, picking the corner over Fleury’s glove hand to make it 4-1.
Whatever momentum the Penguins had evaporated.
It was the first shot Fleury faced.
“This is definitely not where we want to be,” said Fleury. “We’ve got a lot experience in the room and a lot of guys who have been down and won a series before. We have to put those two behind and get ready for the third game.”
The Penguins have come back from a 2-0 deficit in a series five times in their history, including twice in 2009 when they won the Stanley Cup. They’ve only done it once, though, after dropping the first two games on home ice (Washington Capitals, 1996).
The Penguins’ talent and ability to score in bunches got them by lesser teams like the New York Islanders in the first round and the Ottawa Senators in the second. These Bruins are a different animal and Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask is giving them goaltending the Penguins didn’t see from the Islanders or the Senators.
“When you play a certain way all year, you believe in the way you play and, I think that gives you a lot of confidence,” said Crosby.
“I think coming off a game like this, there should be no shortage of motivation knowing how tonight went. Guys have a lot of pride and character in here. I’m not worried about how we’re going to respond.”
Will the Pens win both games in Boston?