Final: Boston 3, Pittsburgh 0
Recap: The Penguins came out with plenty of gusto in the opening frame and were a full-fledged firing squad. Pittsburgh outshot Boston 12-7, but Tuukka Rask was -- yes, I abuse this line often because it rhymes -- up to the task, stopping everything thrown his way. Smack dab in the middle of the opening stanza, David Krejci slapped home his sixth of the playoffs to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
In the second, Matt "Changed Man" Cooke was given the gate for checking Adam McQuaid from behind. After Chris Kelly served two minutes for roughing, the B's squandered a three-minute power play. At the tail end of the period, Brad Marchand shoved James Neal from behind and went off for boarding.
Things got extremely testy at the end of the period. Sidney Crosby bumped Rask as the two teams headed to their benches, Zdeno Chara came over for an expletive-filled chat between the captains, all while the alternate captains, Patrice Bergeron and Evgeni Malkin, dropped the gloves.
In the third, Krejci crashed the net and banged home his second of the night past Tomas Vokoun to make it 2-0. Nathan Horton made it a 3-0 game with under 12:09 to go when he collected a juicy rebound and had Vokoun way out of position. Boston outshot the Pens 13-7 over the final 20 minutes of play to close out the victory.
Series: Boston leads 1-0
Playoff record: Boston 9-4; Pittsburgh 8-4
Key Play of the Game: We saw the Pens defense unravel a bit on the third goal, as Horton was wide open and had a solid second to aim and fire into the open side of the net. His tally sucked the life out of the building and, more importantly, the Penguins.
Connolly's Commendations: After quietly notching four assists in the five-game set against New York, Krejci scored twice to help he and his linemates put an early stamp on this series, just as they did against Toronto. The Czech pivot had a game-high seven shots on goal and help the Bruins spank Pittsburgh on faceoffs, winning 5-of-6 on the night. No. 46 also dished out a game-high three hits.
Horton deserves his own separate stick salute. No. 18 had three points, assisting on both of Krejci's tallies, and was plus-3.
For a guy who hadn't played since Game 5 against Toronto and was coming off a foot injury that put him in a boot, Andrew Ference had himself a very solid game. The veteran d-man took Matt Bartkowski's place in the lineup, picked up an assist and was plus-1 in 17-plus minutes of ice time.
Alright, you've got me. I saved the best for last here. This was the best playoff performance of Rask's NHL career. The Bruins could've gone into the first intermission trailing by two or three goals, but No. 40 rose to the occasion and thwarted the daunting Penguins' attack, carrying his strong play until the final horn to pick up his first-ever postseason shutout.
Connolly's Critiques: Tyler Seguin's now gone back-to-back games with zero shots. Not gonna pile it on here. Just stating facts.
Might be nitpicking here, given his faceoff numbers (10-of-16), but it was a weird night for Bergeron, including the unexpected fisticuffs. No. 37 also was held without a shot and had a couple turnovers we're not used to seeing from him.
Same goes for Marchand, whose penalty on Neal was a pure brain fart, given how lethal the Pens' power play has been in the playoffs.
Notes: The Bruins were outhit 34-19, but held a 32-16 edge at the dot. Krejci now has 27 goals in 72 career playoff contests. The B's improved to 4-2 on the road in the postseason, where they've averaged precisely three goals per game. Boston had lost eight straight against the Pens in the postseason, dating back to 1991.
Final Thoughts: You couldn't ask for a much better start to this series than how things went down on Saturday night. Boston was able to put three pucks past Vokoun -- who's been sharp since relieving Marc-Andre Fleury in the first round -- held the high-flying Penguins offense in check and clearly rattled Pittsburgh's big guns. Rask's performance, above all else, is a huge confidence-booster going forward.
Next: The B's will look to take a 2-0 lead back to Boston when they face off against the Pens for Game 2 at Consol Energy Center on Monday night.