Final: Pittsburgh 2, Boston 1
Recap: After a first period that saw them approve considerably over their performance against the Hurricanes, Boston caught some bad luck. Rich Peverley was whistled for an erroneous slashing call on Evgeni Malkin, who proceeded to score on the power play to put the Penguins up 1-0.
In the third, Matt Cooke scored for the second time this season against Boston, staking the Pens to a 2-0 edge. Later, with Brad Marchand screening Marc-Andre Fleury, Joe Corvo flung a shot at the net and cut the lead in half. Tim Thomas was pulled with around 45 seconds left but the Bruins couldn't get it done in the closing minutes, as Pittsburgh hung on for a 2-1 victory.
Records: Boston 32-16-2, 66 points; Pittsburgh 30-18-4, 64 points
Key Play of the Game: Malkin's goal in the first period was such a back-breaker. Peverley went to the box for an absolutely bogus slashing penalty (on Malkin, no less), and Malkin took advantage of the undeserved power play by beating Tim Thomas with just nine seconds left in the frame.
Connolly's Commendations: Pretty active day for d-man Johnny Boychuk. No. 55 had a game-high seven shots on goal, accounting for just under 25 percent of the pucks Boston forced Fleury to stop.
The line of Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron deserve credit for powering the B's (albeit limited) offensive in this one. Seguin was buzzing and drew a four-minute power play, while Marchand's willingness to go to the net led directly to Corvo's strike. Bergeron, meanwhile, won 13-of-19 at the dot.
Connolly's Critiques: The Bruins have looked a lot like their October selves of late. That's been especially true of Benoit Pouliot. No. 67 had two silly penalties and no shots on goal in this one. Claude Julien probably isn't a happy camper.
Speaking of no shots on goal... Chris Kelly, Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Daniel Paille, David Krejci and Rich Peverley were all guilty of not putting a single puck on net. That's (counting Pouliot) seven forwards without a shot. Not exactly the recipe for success.
Notes: The Bruins fell to 4-5-1 in their last ten games with today's loss. NU product Joe Vitale won 8-of-11 faceoffs. Dennis Seidenberg missed a good chunk of time and got stitches after a punishing hit by Vitale.
Final Thoughts: Yet another disappointing day at the Garden for the Black and Gold. Boston made many an improvement over Thursday's performance against Carolina, but the result was the same. Pittsburgh was certainly on a roll coming into this one at 8-2-0 in their last ten tilts, but the B's offensive hiatus and inability to beat Fleury more than once proved costly yet again.
Next: The B's will (inexplicably) be in action again on (Super Bowl) Sunday. They'll take on the Capitals at 12:30.