After their most lifeless of the season last Saturday, the Bruins got the message and came out flying against the Penguins.
But a pair of stinkers allowed by Jarolav Halak, the first from Evan Rodrigues at the 16:51 mark of the first period and then another from Sidney Crosby just 1:43 later, was all the Penguins needed to undo the B’s in a 4-1 final.
On top of loose pucks and pressuring the Penguins’ Tristan Jarry for 20 shots in the opening frame, the Bruins jumped out to a 1-0 lead behind a Matt Grzelcyk power-play goal with Jarry completely screened by Nick Ritchie. The goal was an example of the kind of bounce that the Bruins have desperately needed — and Grzelcyk took advantage of what had to be one of the tightest windows imaginable — and seemed to be a building block for Boston.
But the balloon popped on that aforementioned Rodrigues knuckling squeaker that flubbed off and through Halak, and Crosby’s one-time shot through Halak was by all means Pittsburgh stabbing the balloon for good measure.
That's the Evan Rodrigues knuckle puck. It drives goalies crazy. pic.twitter.com/nkGiGMECMo— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 16, 2021
Up by one through 20 minutes, the Penguins doubled their lead at the 11:40 mark of the middle frame on an Evgeni Malkin power-play snipe through Halak for his eighth goal of the season, and the 1,100th point of his career. (Malkin is just the third Russian-born player to reach the 1,100-point club, joining Alex Ovechkin and Sergei Fedorov.)
From there, the Bruins struggled to mount much of anything against Jarry and the Penguins, finishing with 23 shots over their final 40 minutes of play, and with none beating Jarry on the way to a season-best 42-save victory.
“[The offense] generated enough to win the hockey game,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the loss. “You gotta finish, I know that. Stating the obvious here. But if you continue to generate, I believe there’s enough talent there to get enough goals to win games.
“We’re not gonna sit here and tell you we’re gonna be one of the highest scoring offenses until we get that finish and confidence. We didn’t finish very well and they did.”
Finishing remains the issue, too, as the Bruins have now gone over 155 minutes without a five-on-five goal dating back to Jake DeBrusk’s second-period goal in last Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Rangers.
In net, Halak finished with saves on 22 of 25 shots faced.
The Bruins will remain in Pittsburgh for a Tuesday night rematch.