The Boston Bruins had a clear advantage in scoring chances, but it was the opportunistic Pittsburgh Penguins who made theirs count and claim a 4-1 victory Monday at PPG Paints Arena.
Boston out-shot (43-26) and out-hit (38-26) Pittsburgh, but the inability to convert chances into goals and a pair of fluky goals did them in.
Each team had four power-play chances, with one goal apiece on the man-advantage. Boston killed off three of four penalties against them.
Matt Grzelcyk had the lone goal for the Bruins in the first period. Sidney Crosby, Evan Rodrigues, Evgeni Malkin and an empty-netter by Jake Guentzel rounded out the Penguins’ scoring.
Jaroslav Halak, who was back in net for a fourth consecutive game, finished with 22 saves on 25 shots. Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry made an impressive 42 stops on 43 shots.
The Bruins fell to 14-8-4 while the Penguins improved to 18-9-1.
Here’s how it all went down:
The Bruins held a clear advantage on the forecheck, out-shooting the Penguins by a margin of 20-9. But it was Pittsburgh who took a 2-1 lead into the first period.
Boston handled the forecheck and claimed a 19-8 advantage in hits, as well. The Bruins had the lone power-play chance of the first period, and it led to a power-play goal by Grzelcyk at 6:47.
The Penguins, however, closed the period on a strong note — scoring two goals in a matter of 103 seconds. Pittsburgh’s Evan Rodrigues tied the game 1-all at 16:51, while Crosby scored the go-ahead goal at 18:34.
Halak stopped seven of the nine shots he faced while Jarry recorded 19 first-period saves.
PENGUINS EXTEND IT
Boston extended its advantage in shots to 33 to 18, but Pittsburgh again came away with the only advantage that mattered. The Penguins added a power-play goal in the middle period to take a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
Malkin gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead at 11:40 with a power-play goal after Connor Clifton was called for tripping at 10:31.
The Bruins were whistled for three penalties during the second period as Clifton — tripping, roughing– was called for two and Pastrnak — interference — the other. Previously, Boston’s penalty kill had killed off 10 consecutive power plays against the Penguins this season.
The B’s had a power-play chance of their own after Pittsburgh’s Marcus Petterson was penalized for delay of game at 6:59.
CHANCES AND MORE CHANCES
Boston went on the power play twice in the third period, having the opportunity to score their second again on the man-advantage, but couldn’t find twine.
The B’s first had the man-advantage 2:40 into the period after Crosby was assessed a tripping penalty and later went back to it at 13:12 after Teddy Blueger was whistled for hooking. Boston put the pressure on during the latter chance as Grzelcyk had a shot saved and Marchand had a shot blocked.
Not long after Boston was back on the kill with Jakub Zboril called for tripping.
Pittsburgh scored an empty-netter at 19:44 of the period.
Boston returns to the ice at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday for the second game of the two-game set.