PITTSBURGH — Jared McCann scored twice, Matt Murray finished with 39 saves and the Pittsburgh Penguins handed the Boston Bruins their first regulation loss since January with a 4-2 victory on Sunday night.
Nick Bjugstad and Jake Guentzel also scored for the Penguins, who survived another late push by the Bruins.
David Krejci picked up his 19th of the season and John Moore got Boston within one when he scored with just over a minute to go. But the Bruins couldn’t complete the comeback, ending their 19-game point streak.
It was the first regulation loss for Krejci and company since Jan. 19 against the New York Rangers.
Jaroslav Halak made 33 stops, but Boston remained winless in Pittsburgh since December 2015.
The Bruins used the franchise’s longest point streak since the 1940-41 season to rise above the muddled portion of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Their six-week stretch included flashes of dominance and a flair for the dramatic. Boston arrived in Pittsburgh coming off a 6-0 homestand, one that culminated with last-minute victories over Florida and Ottawa.
Boston’s run came to an end against a team that seems to be gaining some momentum late in a bumpy and wildly uneven season, at least by Pittsburgh standards. Just 24 hours removed from a draining split with Columbus during a home-and-home series, the Penguins rode the legs of two of their newest acquisitions, a dash of brilliance from Sidney Crosby and Guentzel and another steady performance by Murray to their fifth win in their last seven games.
Bjugstad and McCann have been revelations since their arrival in a trade with Florida on Feb. 1, their presence giving Pittsburgh a jolt of both size and — in the 22-year-old McCann — youth.
Bjugstad needed just 93 seconds to give the Penguins the lead, fighting for position at the far post and redirecting a centring pass from Zach Aston-Reese by Halak for his fifth goal in 18 games with Pittsburgh, matching the total he put up in 32 games with the Panthers earlier this year.
McCann made it 2-0 at 13:54 when he took a lead pass from Teddy Blueger and broke in alone on Halak before deking from his forehand to his backhand. Halak could only stretch out his glove in vain as McCann slipped home Pittsburgh’s 10th short-handed goal of the season.
Krejci got Boston on the board early in the second when the puck emerged from a scrum in front of the Pittsburgh net and ended up on his stick in the left circle. He flipped it over a sprawled Murray for his 19th of the season.
Pittsburgh’s potent power play has been a bit of a mess of late — just as likely to give up a goal as score one — and was a lifeless 0 for 4 until Crosby and Guentzel hooked up for Guentzel’s team-leading 34th of the season with 3:28 to go in the second. Crosby raced into the zone down the left side and sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Guentzel, who quickly went backhand to forehand and lifted it by Halak to restore the two-goal cushion.
Murray, who was spectacular at times in Saturday’s loss to Columbus, made sure the lead stood up. Moore’s blast from the point with 1:01 to play gave the Bruins an outside shot at another dramatic victory, but McCann’s long shot from centre ice into the empty net with 21 seconds to go closed it out.
NOTES: Boston D Matt Grzelcyk left in the second period after his right arm was pinned awkwardly against the boards when he got hit by Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist. … Penguins D Kris Letang missed his seventh straight game with an upper-body injury. … Both teams went 1 for 5 on the power play. … Pittsburgh C Evgeni Malkin did not score and remains two points shy of 1,000 for his career.
Bruins: Will face the Blue Jackets for the first time this season on Tuesday in Columbus.
Penguins: Host Washington on Tuesday. Pittsburgh is 2-1 against the reigning Stanley Cup champions this season.
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Will Graves, The Associated Press