Everything you need to know from the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Penguins in quickie form, with BSJ insight and analysis:
Bruins not getting pushed around in this one: Well, it seems like the Bruins certainly got the memo after getting knocked for Tuesday’s response over in Columbus. Two days removed from a listless retort after Tuukka Rask was concussed by the Blue Jackets, the B’s were a bit more ornery when they took to the ice Thursday against the Penguins. Torey Krug dropping the gloves with Patric Hornqvist in the closing minutes of the second period might have been the highlight of Thursday's 4-1 victory over the Penguins, but Boston refused to get pushed around by Pittsburgh throughout the night— trading heavy checks and mucking it up after just about every post-whistle scrum.
A riled-up fourth line of Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom set the physical tone early and often, but it was a collective effort from a ticked-off B’s team that clearly had heard plenty of the chirps from outside the locker room.
Again, it wasn’t like the Bruins were gooning it out on the Garden ice. Save from Krug and Hornqvist trading some punches, it was simply Boston sticking to a heavy, hard brand of hockey – a facet of the game that has been sorely missing with this club for most of the 2019-20 campaign.
A re-shuffled B’s roster cashes in: Boston might have traded punches with the Penguins throughout the night, but more importantly, it made the most of its chances in the O-zone. Playing in his first game with Boston since October 19, Karson Kuhlman was a breath of fresh air on a cobbled-together third line with Danton Heinen and Par Lindholm. Along with driving to the net and screening Tristan Jarry on Sean Kuraly’s equalizing goal at 10:03 in the first, Kuhlman chipped in with another helper later in the frame. It was a complete effort from that bottom-six trio — Heinen forced a turnover in the Pens’ zone and Kuhlman fired in a clean shot from the slot that was tipped home from Lindholm, giving Boston a lead it would not surrender for the rest of the night.
Add in an encouraging return to form for Jaroslav Halak (29 saves on 30 shots), and Thursday stood as a much-needed response from a B’s team that had taken plenty of flak over the past 48 hours.
Jaroslav Halak: With Rask on the shelf for an undetermined amount of time, the No. 1 spot in net belongs to Halak, who entered Thursday’s matchup in a cold spell —posting a save percentage of .900 or less in seven of his last 10 outings. But after relinquishing a goal off the Penguins’ first shot of the night (a Sidney Crosby slap shot), Halak stood tall between the pipes, turning aside the next 29 shots that came his way in the win.
Karson Kuhlman: He might not have been flashy, but Kuhlman chipped in with winning plays throughout the night. Whether it be screening Jarry in net or generating scoring chances by putting shots on net, Kuhlman gave that third line a new look, especially when compared to Brett Ritchie’s game.
Penalty kill: In what was a chippy, back-and-forth contest, Boston neutralized a Penguins power-play unit with some big guns up front in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. In Pittsburgh’s 6:00 of 5v4 ice time, the Pens failed to beat Halak, while Boston actually matched them in shots on goal at two apiece.
Charlie McAvoy: A bit of a rough night from McAvoy when it came to handling the puck — headlined by a whiff in the O-zone that led to a shorthanded 2-on-0 rush for Pittsburgh during a Bruins’ power play. Halak bailed McAvoy out, but that miscue could have changed the complexion of what was a 2-1 game at the time.
Brad Marchand: After getting roasted from most of the NHL community for his whiff on the shootout Monday night in Philly, Marchand had another tough night on a breakaway bid — this time during a Penguins’ power play. Hopefully his empty-net goal in the third gets him back in a groove.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Great stop(s) from Halak here during a crucial moment in the game.
He may not be the biggest guy on the ice, but Torey Krug knows how to stick up for himself. Nice scrap here against Patric Hornqvist.
The Bruins will cap off a home-and-home slate with Pittsburgh, as Boston will battle the Penguins again for a matinee matchup on Sunday at PPG Paints Arena. Puck drop is set for 12:30 p.m.