It takes a tremendous effort to beat the Boston Bruins nowadays. They’ve only lost four times since returning from the All-Star break and hadn’t suffered a regulation loss since Jan. 19.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had the perfect recipe to put an end to the Bruins’ hot streak.
It was a perfect storm for a Pittsburgh squad fighting for its playoff life. The Bruins were playing the second game of a back-to-back with Jake DeBrusk, David Pastrnak, Marcus Johansson and Kevan Miller still sidelined with injuries.
The Penguins jumped on the Bruins early and never looked back. Pittsburgh’s consistent pressure in the offensive end and assertiveness in all three zones forced Boston into forcing costly turnovers that led to first period tallies from Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann (shorthanded).
Penguins netminder Matt Murray stood on his head and made 39 saves, including several in the third period to keep the Bruins’ comeback bid in check. McCann’s empty netter with 21 seconds remaining sealed the deal on Boston’s 19-game point streak.
“I think we can be proud of that but not satisfied,” defenseman John Moore told reporters postgame. “That’s the special part about this group. Guys really push each other and we expect a lot of each other so we’ll be ready to go on Tuesday.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s 4-2 loss.
Boston’s turnovers reared its ugly head
The uncharacteristic mistakes and sloppy passes rarely showed up during Boston’s impressive run. It was a different story on this night as Bruce Cassidy’s squad didn’t take care of the puck from the get-go.
The Bruins gifted the Penguins a two-goal lead with lapses in judgment.
The first came courtesy of Lee Stempniak — who, if we’re being honest, doesn’t belong in Boston — that led to Bjugstad’s tip-in past Jaroslav Halak just 1:33 into the contest. Then came McCann’s beautiful shorthanded breakaway tally off of David Krejci’s turnover to give the Pens the 2-0 lead.
Boston chased the game and never found its rhythm. They showed toughness and resiliency after climbing back within a goal, but they fell short of another comeback bid.
Krejci’s impressive season continues
He’s posted solid offensive outputs during his 12 seasons in Boston. Yet, Krejci is having the best season of his career in 2018-19.
Krejci continued his hot streak on Sunday when he extended his goal streak to four straight games after netting his 19th of the season in the second period.
Danton Heinen takes a stick to the face — but sets up David Krejci for a goal in the process. Slick feed. pic.twitter.com/Mh2dm5qDlM
The Czech centerman is on pace for 70 points this season — a mark he hasn’t reached since 2007-08. He’s always had a pass first mentality, but Krejci is shooting the puck more (124 on the season) and still setting up his fellow teammates with his playmaking prowess.
Cassidy shuffled the second-line wingers — opposite DeBrusk and Krejci — like clockwork this season. This hasn’t slowed him down at all.
Krejci led the Bruins’ in postseason scoring during their Stanley Cup triumph in 2011 and their Cup Final appearance two years later. Cassidy and company could use that output from their noted postseason performer come April.
Closing the book on the 19-game point streak
It had to end at some point.
The 2018-19 Bruins will go down in history with the second longest point streak in franchise history. The hard-working bunch strung together quality performances and always believed they had a chance to win, no matter how big the deficit was.
This Boston team really came together during this stretch. It wasn’t hard to tell that they enjoyed one another’s success. The numerous comeback victories showcased the excitement they had toward each other.
The Bruins gained respect throughout the league during their impressive run from mid-January on. They’ve created distance from the crowded field of playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference coming out of their bye week and now sit alone in second place in the entire National Hockey League.
The sky is certainly not falling following their off night in the Steel City. The Bruins will get back to work on Tuesday night against a Columbus Blue Jackets squad that is also fighting for their postseason life.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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