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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Welp, The Penguins Are Certainly The Class Of The Eastern Conference (At This Moment)

For whatever reason, the Bruins have been very competitive in their first two games against the Penguins this season (both this past week) but they have yet to figure out how to get two points. On Tuesday, they blew a 2-0 lead at CONSOL Energy Center and lost 3-2, today at the same tough venue they fell 2-1.

Pittsburgh (22-8-0) has won nine games in a row, they've beaten Boston (19-5-3) both times without the incomparable Evgeni Malkin and this afternoon, backup goaltender Tomas Vokoun (31 saves) beat Tuukka Rask (16 saves; 14-3-3). On Tuesday, B's backup goaltender Anton Khudobin took the loss.

The Penguins never trailed as Sidney Crosby (13th goal of the season) connected on a one-timer at 12:06 of the first period from Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis had the second assist. Tyler Seguin (10th goal of the season) had the Bruins' lone goal after Johnny Boychuk's shot from the point deflected off a Penguin right to Seguin at 16:38. Patrice Bergeron had the second assist.

Three guys from Beanpot schools teamed up for Pittsburgh's game-winner as Joe Vitale (Northeastern; 1st goal of the season) dove for a beautiful diving shot over Rask, Craig Adams (Harvard) and Brooks Orpik (Boston College) had the assists at 19:28. It's hard to totally blame Rask on Vitale's goal since the initial shot had deflected off Andrew Ference but it wasn't the hardest shot (speed wise) and Rask fumbled it right to Vitale.

It was a tight game the rest of the way that had a playoff-type feel. The NHL would be in for a real treat if these teams met in the playoffs this spring, ratings would be excellent. They'll play once more, finally in Boston, on Friday, April 19.

Of more concern for the Bruins is the health of David Krejci. He took a Boychuk slap shot right off his knee cap late in the third period and had to be helped off the ice and into the dressing room. Losing him for a significant period of time would be tough, especially with Chris Kelly (their third line center) also out indefinitely with a broken leg.

This kicked off a four-game road trip for Boston, up next they hit Canada for three games beginning with Tuesday (8 p.m., NESN) in Winnipeg (15-11-2, 1st in Southeast Division). The Bruins have topped the Jets in their first two games this season (2-1 in a shootout and 3-2) but Winnipeg has been playing very well lately (6-3-1 in their last 10). At Ottawa and Toronto won't be easy either since they are both still in the top six of the Eastern Conference. The B's won't be back at TD Garden until next Monday against the Maple Leafs.

UPDATE 3/18: Looks like Krejci isn't too hurt, he's day-to-day although the B's called up Ryan Spooner from Providence for tomorrow's game against the Jets.

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