Bruins keep Penguins in check, tighten East race in 3-1 win
Tuukka Rask turned aside 25 shots and the Boston Bruins edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on Tuesday night to tighten the playoff race in the hyper-competitive East Division.
David Krejci gave the Bruins the lead with his seventh goal of the season late in the second period. Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall scored in the third as Boston ended a two-game losing streak.
Jeff Carter spoiled Rask's bid for his 52nd career shutout with his 11th of the season - and third since joining the Penguins at the trade deadline - with 2:21 left, but it wasn't enough. Tristan Jarry made 28 saves for Pittsburgh, two days after shutting out the Bruins.
It was a taut, physical contest that had the look and feel of a playoff game.
The next time the teams meet, it very well could be.
Pittsburgh and Boston are in a close race with Washington and the New York Islanders for the East Division's four available playoff spots, with the New York Rangers not completely out of it with just over two weeks remaining in the regular season.
The Penguins could have clinched a 15th straight playoff berth with a win and a loss by the Rangers to Buffalo. That celebration will have to wait after the Boston kept the NHL's most potent attack in check to earn its fifth win in eight meetings with Pittsburgh.
The Penguins came into the game averaging 4.00 goals in April. They left it having been pushed around by the Bruins. Boston didn't hesitate to initiate contact all over the ice and Pittsburgh found little room to work down low.
Krejci finally broke a scoreless tie with 1:50 left in the second period when he took a feed from Charlie McAvoy, sliced through the Pittsburgh zone and ripped a pretty backhand by Jarry to give the Bruins the lead.
Marchand, long an issue for the Penguins, doubled the advantage with his 26th goal 9:11 into the third period. Hall, whose arrival at the trade deadline sparked a turnaround that thrust the Bruins out of a midseason funk, collected his fifth of the season and fourth with the Boston just over three minutes later to seal it.
Penguins Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange returned the booth for the first time this season. The 73-year-old Lange, known for his eccentric calls like "scratch my back with a hacksaw" and "buy Sam a drink and give his dog one, too," filled in after Josh Getzoff and his wife welcomed a son, Gunnar, on Monday.
The game marked the start of Lange's 46th season with the team. The appearance is a cameo, at least for now. Getzoff is expected to return to the play-by-play role on Thursday. Getzoff took over this season when Lange announced in January he was taking a hiatus during the pandemic.
Bruins: Begin a two-game set with Buffalo when the Sabres visit Boston on Thursday. The Bruins have won five of six meetings with Buffalo this season.
Penguins: Start a pivotal two-game series in Washington on Thursday. Pittsburgh leads the season series 4-2.