The Boston Bruins fell 1-0 to the Penguins Sunday afternoon in a defensive stalemate of a game, before emerging victorious Tuesday night with a 3-1 win that had a large impact on the East division standings. The Bruins will finish their season series with the Penguins at 5-3 and stay within four points of Pittsburgh with just eight games remaining in the regular season. Although the loss Sunday was disappointing as the Bruins had every opportunity to win the game, there are certainly plenty of positive takeaways from the two game set.
The Bruins let Jeremy Swayman get the start in net on Sunday, as he was undoubtedly the star of the game making 28 saves on 29 shots, carrying a shutout into the third period. He gave the B’s every chance to win, keeping them in the game for all 60 minutes. The only goal scored on him, and the only goal scored in the game, was a rocket of a one-timer from Jake Guentzel a few minutes into the third. Even after Guentzel’s goal, Swayman was a rock, keeping the deficit at one and giving the Bruins the opportunity to even the game up. The offense was simply nonexistent on the afternoon however and Swayman’s efforts were all for none as the Bruins dropped a winnable tilt with Pittsburgh.
Obviously, not scoring a goal in 60 minutes is an issue and it’s an issue the Bruins have faced all season. There were scoring chances scattered throughout the game and a string of decent chances late in the third, but they just couldn’t put the puck in the net. It’s the 4th time the Bruins have been shut out this year, which isn’t horrible, but with some of the talent they have, they shouldn’t be getting shut out often. They had been scoring a lot after the infusion of Taylor Hall, Mike Reilly, and Curtis Lazar at the trade deadline however, so hopefully it was just a fluke bad game and the trend doesn’t continue coming down the stretch.
The Bruins played a much better game Tuesday night, once again in Pittsburgh. They didn’t come out firing however, as the Penguins clearly outplayed Boston in the first. It looked like another night of poor play from the Bruins offense was once again on tap after the first 20 minutes. The tempo increased as the game moved into the second however. Both teams traded chances for the majority of the period, which eventually culminated in David Krejci burying the first goal of the game off of a beautiful drag around a Pittsburgh defender and backhand past Tristan Jarry.
With a one goal lead heading into the third, the Bruins turned the momentum into the next two goals of the game as the offense finally woke up. Brad Marchand tapped in rebound for the second goal and Taylor Hall sniped a shot from the top of the circles for the third goal. Pittsburgh would add a goal late in the third, but the Bruins ultimately came away with a solid victory.
One of the more positive takeaways from the two game set was the Bruins defense. They only gave up 2 goals in two games against the Penguins who have the second most goals scored in the league. Although the offense was abysmal for nearly five periods, the defense was solid for 120 minutes. It’s good to see the defense playing well again after some poor games in the last month.
Next up for Boston is their final two games against the Buffalo Sabres this season. The most important thing will be to take away 4 points that they 100% need to keep the streaking New York Rangers at bay in 5th place in the division. It will also be extremely important that the Bruins play their game and not fall into bad habits against a team that has nothing to lose at this point.
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