Here are the Talking Points from the Boston Bruins 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Monday night.
GOLD STAR: Pittsburgh’s best players crushed the Bruins in this one. Sidney Crosby scored one of the two goals in the first period that erased Boston’s initial lead, and it was a blistering shot from a bad angle that Jaroslav Halak wasn’t able to shut off the short side post. Crosby also authored two assists as well, including a second period setup on Evgeni Malkin’s power play goal that really put the game out of reach. Malkin was arguably even more magical than Sid the Kid as he constantly had the puck on his stick and was generating tons of scoring chances along with the PP shot that he connected on to make it a 3-1 lead. They combined for two goals, five points, eight shots on net and 12 shot attempts and really pushed things for a Penguins team that’s now rolling with six wins in a row and moving up the standings in the East Division.
BLACK EYE: Connor Clifton didn’t have a particularly great night on the third pairing, and it was his play getting stuck in the corner and taking a penalty that led to the backbreaker PP goal for the Penguins. Clifton took another penalty for extracurricular stuff in front of the Boston net and just didn’t impact the game’s outcome in a positive way during his 14:17 of ice time. Certainly, Jaroslav Halak earned some level of the blame as well for his two soft goals in the final five minutes of the first period, but we’re also talking about a backup goalie that’s making his fourth straight start because Tuukka Rask is currently injured. So Halak has earned some slack and it would have been nice if the Bruins could have picked him with a few goals afterward to keep the blame off him. Alas, that didn’t happen, and Clifton’s penalty was the killing blow for the B’s.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins were playing an excellent first period and had built a 1-0 lead on the strength of a power play goal, and it seemed as if they were on the right track to right the ship. But then disaster struck toward the end of the first when Jaroslav Halak let in a pair of soft goals within 1:43 of each other late in the period. So, the Bruins went from a feel-good first period to trailing by a goal and then seemed to really knock them off their game plan to start the second period. They let in a power play goal in the second period that made it a 3-1 game, and at that point things really felt insurmountable given the way Boston is struggling to put goals on the board right now. It’s unfair to expect Halak to be perfect given that he’s subbing for an injured Tuukka Rask right now, but the two soft goals really turned out to be the difference in the game.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Boston Bruins actually had some pretty good performers in the loss, but by far the best was Matt Grzelcyk. The Bruins puck-moving defenseman took on the challenge of getting more pucks to the net and fired a team-high eight shots on net while scoring a power play goal in the first period that initially gave the B’s the lead. It was a Grzelcyk wrist shot from the point that eluded Tristan Jarry as Nick Ritchie was using his big body to screen in front of the net. Grzelcyk continued to throw pucks at the net and forced Jarry to make another sprawling save in the third period after winding up on the long rebound of a shot. Grzelcyk finished with eight shots on net, 10 shot attempts, a couple of hits, a blocked shot and a takeaway in possibly his strongest performance since coming back from injury.
Matt Grzelcyk fires one home on the power play.
Bruins lead, 1-0. pic.twitter.com/nTJP6ng0TQ
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 15, 2021
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – the number of times in the last five games that the Boston Bruins haven’t been able to generate even a single even-strength goal. Only the Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres have scored fewer 5-on-5 goals than the Bruins this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We’re not going to sit here and tell you we’re going to be one of the highest scoring teams until we get some more finish and more confidence.” –Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, on some of the offensive struggles that the B’s have been having over the last month.