June 5, 2013

Bruins aim to keep Penguins from getting back in series

By Jesse Connolly

Evgeni Malkin (right) and the Penguins have been held in check by strong defense from Andrew Ference and the Bruins. (Getty Images)

With a 2-0 lead in the conference finals that’s left many in the hockey world with their jaws on the floor, the Boston Bruins, understandably, have to be feeling pretty good heading into Game 3 against the Penguins at the friendly confines of TD Garden.

The B’s became the first team to blank the Pens in 16 months with a 3-0 victory in Game 1. What followed was a considerably bigger embarrassment for Pittsburgh, with the Black and Gold scoring three goals on both Tomas Vokoun and Marc-Andre Fleury in a runaway, 6-1 win. Pittsburgh’s top six forwards – a collection of All Stars led, of course, by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – have yet to record a point and own a collective rating of minus-18 through two tilts.

Now, the two teams find themselves in Boston. The Penguins will aim to rediscover their game and find a way to keep from falling to a near-inescapable, 3-0 hole.

For the Bruins, the mission is to keep their foot on the throat of the once-heavily-favored opposition and not get too caught up in their spectacular start to this series.

“No, we have a group that’s been through a lot,” defenseman Andrew Ference said when asked about celebrating too early in the series. “Really good highs and also some tough series where we’ve let teams back in, so I think that we have enough guys that they know when it’s the right time to get excited and when it’s time [for] business as normal.”

The B’s victory in Game 2 gave them their third win in the last four road playoff games. They’ve also taken advantage of home ice, winning their last four games at the Garden, starting with Game 7 against Toronto.

Ference is confident they can keep momentum going in friendlier territory after taking caring of business in Pittsburgh’s barn.

“There’s a lot on the line,” he said. “It’s the same stakes right now as it was before. Everybody knows that it’s a good start to the series, but it’s a seven-game series for a reason, and I think everybody’s got that pretty set in place on our team that it’s about what we do in the next game, not about patting ourselves on the back for what’s already happened.”

Despite stunning many hockey pundits with their dominant victories at Consol Energy Center, simply manhandling the vaunted Penguins, David Krejci – who’s tallied thrice already in this series – believes the B’s will have to take their game up yet another notch on Wednesday night.

“We’re going to have to play even better than we did because they’re going to be desperate,” the Czech center said. “It’s a really important game. It’s a big difference if it’s 3-0 for us or 2-1 for us, so it’s going to be a big game. The game is going to start from 0-0 so we’ve got to be ready to get off [with] a good start.”

The Bruins find themselves just two wins away from reaching the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years, but there’s still a whole lot of work left to be done before they can get there.

“These next games will be a lot tougher, I’m sure,” winger Shawn Thornton said. “I think these guys are a very dangerous team. We’ve seen them score a lot of goals, so we’re a long ways from where we need to be.”

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com