Final: Pittsburgh 3, Boston 2
Recap: With another emotionally-charged crowd behind them, the Bruins played balls-to-the-wall hockey out of the gate, taking a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when Brad Marchand eluded Kris Letang and squeaked a shot on the power play past Tomas Vokoun.
But Boston's play quickly declined, especially after a Jussi Jokinen goal on a Penguins man advantage tied things up. With 4:43 gone in the third, Jarome Iginla -- he was almost a Bruin, in the event you've been in a cave for a month now and didn't know -- ripped a shot from the point that went past a screened Tuukka Rask to put Pittsburgh on top.
Roughly four minutes later, Letang buried the Pens' second power-play tally of the period to make it 3-1. Tyler Seguin scored with literally two seconds left and people applauded quite loudly for some stupid reason.
Records: Pittsbugh 34-10-0, 68 points; Boston 26-12-5, 57 points
Key Play of the Game: When Matt Bartkowski went to the box for high-sticking with 8:17 gone in the third, it was Boston's 11th of 12 minor penalties on the afternoon. Pittsburgh scored just 12 seconds later. Bad penalties, bad times for the Bruins.
Connolly's Commendations: Patrice Bergeron -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- was, by leaps and bounds, the Bruins' best player today. He and his linemates generated the B's best scoring chances throughout the matinee. No. 37 won 19-of-28 faceoffs.
Connolly's Critiques: As I alluded to earlier, the Bruins' parade to the penalty box proved immensely costly. The B's have been woefully bad against opposing power plays of late and now no longer own the top penalty kill in the NHL.
After playing like world-beaters in the first period, the Bruins played with damn near zero oomph the rest of the way. They got the first goal, saw Pittsburgh tie things up and then pretty much mailed it in from there. What a sad showing over the final 40 minutes.
Notes: Rask allowed three goals on 24 shots and is now 1-4-0 in his last five starts. Jaromir Jagr was on the ice for Seguin's last-second goal, returning him to an even plus-minus rating for the game. He has not finished any game with a negative plus-minus rating since joining the Bruins.
Final Thoughts: No Crosby, no Malkin, no Neal, no Letang? No problem, apprently, for the Penguins, who clinched first place in the conference and swept their season series with the Bruins today.
Next: The Bruins will host the Panthers at 12:30 on Sunday afternoon.