Boston Bruins Rock Penguins to Take 2-0 Series Lead With 6-1 Road Win

2013 NHL Playoffs
2013 NHL Playoffs
Jun 3 2013 Pittsburgh PA USA Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand 63 and Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Pascal Dupuis 9 battle for the puck during the second period in game two of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center The Boston Bruins won 6 1 Mandatory Credit Charles LeClaire USA TODAY Sports

After stunning the Penguins with a Game 1 shutout, the Bruins dropped six goals to further demoralize their opponents. Boston struck early and often, taking advantage of a mentally unprepared Penguins club that made countless errors. Heavy favorites entering the series, Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are now in serious trouble after losing twice on home ice.

The Bruins onslaught began immediately Monday night, beginning with a rare Crosby miscue less than 30 seconds into the first. The Penguins captain tried to keep a bouncing puck in the offensive zone, but accidentally gift-wrapped it for Brad Marchand who gladly accepted the breakaway. Marchand made quick work of Tomas Vokoun, with a high shot to the glove side that gave the Bruins the lead on their first chance of the game.

The Bruins doubled their lead with 5:23 left in the first, when Kris Letang botched a routine breakout pass. Instead of firing the puck up the boards, Letang shipped it directly to Torey Krug in the high slot. The rookie Krug failed to score on his shot, but red hot teammate Nathan Horton, who factored on all three goals in Game 1, banged home the rebound.

Horton picked up his fifth point of the series soon after, when he helped linemates Milan Lucic and David Krejci put together a highlight reel goal. On a perfectly executed 3-on-1, Milan Lucic drove hard to the net with the puck and then dropped it back for Horton who dished it to David Krejci for the one-touch goal.

The goal was Krejci’s third of the series, and it put his league-leading postseason point total at 20. Perhaps more importantly the goal forced Dan Bylsma to pull Tomas Vokoun in favor of long timer starter Marc-Andre Fleury, thus creating a goaltending controversy that will likely be debated for the remainder of Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup run.

At first it seemed the goalie swap might lift Pittsburgh’s spirits. With one minute remaining in the period, Brandon Sutter gave the home fans something to cheer about with a ripper from the faceoff circle that beat Tuukka Rask. However, the Penguins failed to make the goal stand up as Marchand matched it with just nine seconds left in the period.

Marchand’s second goal of the game was a mirror image of Sutter’s goal from just seconds earlier. It was the first shot Marc Andre-Fleury had faced since being pulled in Round One and it effectively marked the end of Game 2. Down 4-1 the Penguins fans white towels seemed to signal surrender to the rampant Bruins.

The far more composed Bruins controlled the play through the entire game, with Zdeno Chara and company doing an incredible job to blanket Crosby and Evgeni Malkinwho struggled mightily. When called upon, Rask was tremendous once again making 26 saves.

In the third period the supremely confident Bruins could not be resisted with Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk scoring to end the Game 6-1.

The Penguins looked much like the club that suffered a catastrophic meltdown at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers a year ago, meanwhile the Bruins mirrored the cup winning team that beat the Vancouver Canucks 8-1 in Game 3 of the 2011 finals.

Playing by far their best hockey of the year, the Bruins are a force to be reckoned with. They have finally managed to couple their elite defensive system with an irresistible offense. In addition to their sudden ability to score goals, they have mastered disciplined physicality, allowing them to out muscle the Penguins without taking bad penalties.

The Penguins have responded to the Bruins surge with nothing but frustration, and the teams’ leadership deserves much of the blame. Crosby, Malkin and Letang are a combined minus-11 through two games. The all-star trio is failing to contribute at both ends of the ice and they will need to drastically improve in Game 3 or the Penguins will be in even worse trouble.

The Bruins top two lines are in superb form at the moment with Krejci,  Horton and  Marchand each scoring multiple goals in the first two games. Jaromir Jagr and Milan Lucic, who struggled against the Rangers in Round 2, are beginning to come alive as well. The two wingers combined for three assists in Game 2.

The two headed monster of Marc Andre-Fleury and Vokoun, each of whom conceded three times on Monday, simply cannot match Rask right now. It remains unclear who will start for Pittsburgh in Game 3, but the smart money is on Andre-Fleury who looked mediocre at best in his return.

In a series that was meant to showcase the Penguins offense, the focus has fallen squarely on their embarrassing defense. If they cannot correct major problems in their own end, they won’t make it back from Boston where they now must win at least one of the next two games.

author avatar
Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard is a Boston, MA native and a student at Davidson College. He began writing about hockey as a Boston Bruins featured columnist for Bleacher Report in the fall of 2012. He has been covering the NHL for XN Sports since May of 2013. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');