The Boston Bruins visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for the two teams’ third and final meeting of the season. The Saturday afternoon matchup is also a preview of a potential first-round matchup between the two clubs. The Bruins are coming off a 2-1 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, in which they were able to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy for the fourth time in franchise history. The Penguins, however, have much more to play for as they continue to battle for a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
When these two teams last met, the Bruins hosted the Penguins at Fenway Park for the 2023 NHL Winter Classic. The outdoor game was tightly contested and ended with the Bruins taking a 2-1 victory. The Penguins took a 1-0 lead into the third period on a goal by Kasperi Kapanen before Bruins’ forward Jake Debrusk scored two goals in the third period to lift Boston to the win. The Bruins outshot Pittsburgh, 29-27, during the game, and both teams went 0-3 on the power play.
Before the Winter Classic, the Penguins hosted the Bruins back on Nov. 1 in a thrilling game. The Penguins jumped out to a 5-2 lead before the Bruins came roaring back. Brad Marchand started the comeback with a power-play goal in the second period. Boston scored two more goals in the third period, including a Taylor Hall marker in the dying moments to send the game to overtime. Hampus Lindholm secured the overtime victory, scoring 3:37 into the extra frame. The Bruins were one for three on the power play, while Pittsburgh failed to score on four attempts with the man advantage.
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Going back further, Boston holds an 11-8 advantage over the Penguins in their last 19 meetings. Both teams have scored 53 goals in those 19 games. In 55 career games against the Bruins, Sidney Crosby has scored 18 goals and 49 assists for 67 points. The Penguins captain also got his first taste of NHL fisticuffs with his first career fight against Andrew Ference on Dec. 20, 2007. Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron has 16 goals and 28 assists in 59 career games against Pittsburgh.
Players to Watch
As mentioned, Crosby has performed well over the years against the Bruins. The 35-year-old has 31 goals and 54 assists for 85 points in 75 games this season. He had a hot start to March with two goals and nine assists in the first eight games; however, he has been held off the scoresheet in his last three outings and has just two goals in his previous seven.
Jake Guentzel enters the contest with the hot hand as he has four goals and two assists over a five-game point streak. Guentzel leads all Penguins’ skaters with 34 goals on the season. Evgeni Malkin has points in three straight and has 25 goals and 53 assists for 78 points in 75 games.
On the Bruins’ side of the ice, all eyes are always on David Pastrnak. The Bruins’ gifted goal scorer is up to a career-high 53 goals and 99 points this season. He will indeed be looking to notch that 100-point mark for the first time in his nine-year career. In 23 career games against the Penguins, he has compiled 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points.
Aside from Pastrnak, it seems that trade deadline acquisition Tyler Bertuzzi is beginning to show his offensive abilities as he notched a power-play goal in the Bruins’ last game against the Blue Jackets. He has two goals and five assists since joining the Bruins on March 2.
The Bruins are locked in at the top spot of the NHL standings, and while their players have said regular-season records are meaningless to the group, they sit five wins shy of setting a new NHL record with seven games remaining. Boston will also look to improve on their faltering power play before they finish the regular season and begin their quest for the Cup.
The Penguins hold the final wild-card spot with a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers. While they have one game in hand on the Panthers, every point is vital for the Penguins’ playoff hopes from here on out. Expect a playoff atmosphere in this contest; as previously mentioned, this is a possible first-round matchup. Although the Bruins have already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy, don’t expect them to back down.