There really is no other way to describe the shooting gallery that took place on Thursday night as the Boston Bruins played host to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins were coming off their overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. They were also adding the other two players they acquired before the trade deadline in Brian Gionta (free agent signing) and Nick Holden (trade that saw defenseman Rob O’Gara and a 2018 NHL Entry Draft third round pick go to the New York Rangers).
The scoring in the first period began with a Penguins goal 35 seconds into the opening frame and ended with a Penguins goal just two seconds shy of the buzzer on that period. And in between those two?It was 3-2 in favor of the home team before the clock had ticked off the first ten minutes. There were five Bruins goals: four at even strength and one on the power play; and one more for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins starting goaltender, Casey DeSmith, let in three goals on five shots and was yanked 5:27 into the game, being replaced by Tristan Jarry, who would end up actually with the loss on the game. During the NHL Expansion Draft in the summer of 2017, Marc-Andre Fleury went to the Vegas Golden Nights. The Penguins felt solid with Matt Murray who had taken them to their second consecutive Stanley Cup in the 2017 playoffs. However, Murray is out indefinitely as he has returned home to be with his family after the passing of his father on January 16th. Both DeSmith and Jarry have been going up and down between Pittsburgh and the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate over the last few weeks.
Some of the goals of the first period were the result of some odd things. One of the Bruins goals sort of hopped over DeSmith, and landed behind him, and he pushed it in as he backed up. At the other end the Bruins starter, Tuukka Rask, was having his own issues with keeping the puck out of the back of his net.
“Yeah the first period I thought we were playing with white pucks there. The only time I saw the puck was when I dug it out of the net. Had some Red Bull in the intermission there and I actually made a couple saves after that,” Rask shared.
The second period saw David Krejci give the Bruins their sixth goal—on his second of the game—2:16 into the second period. Twelve minutes later the hats came raining down as he got a hat trick. David Pastrnak also got two goals, one in the first period and one in the second. Gionta, who had been named captain of Team USA’s men’s hockey team that played in the Olympics at PyeongChang, notched two assists, the first one in the opening period giving him a career 300th assist. Rick Nash who had a goal in the game against Carolina, added a goal and a helper to his columns as a Bruin, both in the first.
The second period also saw an increase in physicality which resulted in an increase in penalties. There was a couple of four-on-four shifts when Evgeni Malkin and Tim Schaller went off for matching roughing minors, and then again just a couple minutes later when Olli Maatta (tripping) and Brad Marchand (embellishment) reflected on their sins.
The Penguins would take the man advantage into the third period, after Torey Krug was whistled for an interference late in the second, but they would end up 0-4 on the power play by the end of the game.
A questionable hit by the Penguins Patric Hornqvist on Charlie McAvoy resulted in McAvoy needing repairs. And while there was nothing called on the play, McAvoy had definitely taken a number, and an opportunity to respond with a strong, hard, clean, check on Hornqvist came later in the game. The result was a line brawl that resulted in Zdeno Chara, who had already been on the ice for a full three minutes, and Jamie Oleksiak dropping the mitts.
The only thing this game didn’t have was a penalty shot.
The Bruins managed to close things down for much of the remainder of the game. Pittsburgh got their fourth, as Maatta teed one up that deflected off first Riley Nash and then Brandon Carlo before it got past Rask and into the net.
“I got myself in the game a little bit there and that last goal against us pretty much sums up my night,” Rask shared in regard to Maatta’s second of the game.
In the end the Boston continued to deny the Penguins many opportunities and took a win of 8-3.
The Bruins will take on the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday afternoon at 5:00pm. They will want to continue the scoring, while making sure to keep their defense and forecheck strong.