A week’s worth of rest and an awful lot of whoopla came into game one of the Eastern Conference Finals. Could the “underdog” Bruins defeat the ‘superior’ skills of the Pittsburgh Penguins? The Bruins knew they were coming into a tough fight on away ice, and they came to fight. In fact, they played like bears who had a chance to catch a meal of penguins. The bears ate well tonight.
Andrew Ference playing in his first game in three weeks assisted with Nathan Horton to give David Krejci his sixth goal of the postseason. Welcome back Ferry! The Penguins had to kill off a pair of interference calls, but they were able to do so. In the last moments of the game, a backhand pass from Zdeno Chara ended up in the hands of Evgeni Malkin, and they were able to get a shot on Tuukka Rask. Somehow, the hockey gods allowed that goal to squirt the edge of the line, and come out the other side. That mad scramble ended a very exciting first period with the Bruins leading 1-0. The Penguins had eleven shots on goal compared to the Bruins seven.
The second period saw an awful lot of run-n-gun with the puck. Both teams showed what they were made of, both good and bad. A lot of three zone movement that the Penguins were not happy with. Tempers began to fray, and the first seriously dirty shots of the game started.
Matt Cooke. The man that ended Marc Savard‘s career. Penguins fans and the media(outside of Boston) had argued that he had cleaned up. He made peace with his demons and was becoming a clean player. Well, any chance of Boston or Bruins Nation acknowledging that ever ended when he decided to throw Adam McQuaid into the boards. He ended up getting five for a check from behind, ten minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, and tossed from the game. (For all those Pittsburgh fans reading this, Marchand should have gotten the same penalty for his hit.) No doubt Shanahan will get a call to look at this one. (Then again, for all we know, Shanahan just might buy him an ice cream cone and take him to Disneyworld for all the consistency coming out of that office.)
Play continued with the Penguins coming on hard, and once again the hockey gods saw fit to deny Pittsburgh a goal. Two more ringed posts led to Penguins trying to be excessively physical. Just before the end of the period, Rich Peverley and Chris Kunitz got minors for unsportsmanlike conduct. Five seconds later, as the buzzer rang at the end. Evgeni Malkin took a cheap shot at Patrice Bergeron. This quickly escalated to the two of them fighting. Kunitz got the takedown in that fight. At the end of the second period, Krejci’s goal was the only point on the board.
On a side note, that was a classless move by Sidney Crosby blocking Tuukka Rask’s access off the ice and shoving him.
The third period was a showcase of two things. The first, what an amazing goaltender we have in Tuukka Rask. Second, how one defensive team can shutdown an offensively explosive team by playing three zone hockey. Any time the Bruins were threatened, they collapsed around their goaltender and kept the pucks out. The Krejci line came out firing on all cylinders again. The Bruins first line came up on the net and put the Bruins up 2-0 four minutes in. Three minutes later, the same line caught an unprepared Tomas Vokoun again in the crease pushing the Bruins ahead three-nothing.
A lot was made about this. Social media had Pittsburgh fans already toasting the Penguins win. Most were predicting a series sweep. Sorry, folks. No chance of that happening. The premier offensive team in the NHL was shutdown and shutout by a team committed to playing defensive hockey. (Oh, and something about that ‘mediocre’ goalie you say we have.) Three goals on Vokoun may lead to a change in the crease for game two on Monday.