PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh spent four games last June futilely flailing away at Tuukka Rask as the Boston goalie shoved the Penguins out of the Eastern Conference finals one remarkable save at a time.
Any real chance at payback won’t come until the playoff. Still, Pittsburgh knows its taut 3-2 win over the Bruins is a pretty good place to start laying the groundwork.
They are a very good defensive team, Penguins forward Brandon Sutter said. To get chances and capitalize on them is huge. That’s a big building block for us.
Sutter and Jussi Jokinen scored 6:58 apart in the third period and the Penguins held on. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 shots for Pittsburgh, including a sliding save on David Krejci just before the final horn. Chris Kunitz picked up his sixth goal of the season for the Penguins while Sidney Crosby’s assist pushed his points total to an NHL-high 21.
We played the right way and we were the better team tonight, Jokinen said. It kind of felt like a playoff game, a little bit those same matchups like last spring. Lots of hitting, lots of battles.
Battles the Penguins won. Then again, that’s what happens this time of year. Pittsburgh is 9-1 in its last 10 regular-season games against Boston.
Patrice Bergeron and Jarome Iginla scored for the Bruins. Rask finished with 28 saves, but couldn’t stop Boston from dropping a road game for the first time this season.
We didn’t play to our identity, Bruins coach Claude Julien said. We didn’t play a heavy game for two periods tonight. We had to play three periods like we did in the third and that wasn’t the case.
The meeting between the teams was the first since Boston’s emphatic four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference finals, when the Bruins suffocated the NHL’s highest scoring team into submission. The Penguins scored only twice in nearly 14 periods of hockey and never led at any point, undone by Boston’s defense and a near flawless performance by Rask, who stopped 134 of 136 shots in the series.
MAPLE LEAFS 4, FLAMES 2: In Calgary, Alberta, James van Riemsdyk scored a short-handed goal and Jonathan Bernier made 41 saves to help Toronto.
Eastern Conference-leading Toronto has won three straight to improve to 10-4-0. It was the Maple Leafs’ first victory in Calgary since Dec. 27, 2002.
Joffrey Lupul, Mason Raymond and Paul Ranger – short-handed into an empty net – also scored for Toronto. Coming off a 4-0 victory on Tuesday night in Edmonton, the Maple Leafs will wrap up their three-game trip through Western Canada on Saturday night in Vancouver.
Matt Stajan and David Jones scored for Calgary.