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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bruins Blank Penguins 2-0 For Their Fifth Straight Win (Making Them 8-1-1 in The Last 10 Games)

Remember a few short weeks ago when even the biggest Bruins honk felt like they were going nowhere for the rest of this ill-fated season? My how things have changed since today's 2-0 win by Boston (36-22-10) at CONSOL Energy Center vs. Pittsburgh (39-19-10) was their fifth straight victory (best current streak in the NHL) and left them 8-1-1 in their last 10 games (tied with Rangers for best mark). The Bruins are now tied with the Capitals for seventh-place (82 points) in the Eastern Conference and only five points behind the Red Wings (37-19-11) who are also faltering at this most important time.

Sure the B's caught two enormous breaks since Sidney Crosby was in pregame warmups but didn't suit up because of an undisclosed injury while Evgeni Malkin played a grand total of five shifts before leaving with a mysterious injury of his own. Chris Kelly had hit him which seemed to cause the injury but it was a clean, routine play and nothing dirty by any means. Still, the Bruins wouldn't have taken advantage of that earlier in the season so it was nice to see them continue to get the job done in any number of ways. Once again, they rode Tuukka Rask (30 saves; 3rd shutout of the season) who has been one of the league's best over the last month-plus.

The other thing that went Boston's way happened before the game began as the Penguins started backup goaltender Thomas Greiss (28 saves) in order to rest Marc-Andre Fleury for a matchup vs. Detroit on Sunday. Greiss was fine except that he allowed a rather soft goal to Milan Lucic at 9:53 of the first period. David Pastrnak and Dougie Hamilton assisted on Lucic's low wrist shot that should have been stopped but went in for his 15th goal of the season.

Really not that much else happened the rest of the way which was fine with the Bruins. Boston's power play was 0 for 4 but they held Pittsburgh to 0 for 3 so that was basically a draw. Captain Zdeno Chara clinched it for Boston with a rink-long empty-netter when there were 38 seconds left in regulation. Gregory Campbell assisted on Chara's seventh goal of the season which made it 2-0 for the visitors.

Ironically enough, the B's are in DC tomorrow night (7:30, NBCSN) to face the Capitals (36-23-10). Boston has played one less game than Washington so a win against them on Sunday would give them some extra space. It is the second leg of a back-to-back (when you'd normally play the backup goalie) but I believe that Rask will make another start since the game is so important in the Wild Card standings.

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