Boston Bruins

Mar 16, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith (1) makes a save against Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) during the first period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The five-on-five struggles of the Bruins are nothing new.

They’ve defined their most recent slide, as well as their season to date. They seemed on the way to defining what was shaping up to be another tough-luck loss in Pittsburgh, too.┬áThat was until Trent Frederic stormed into the attacking zone and whistled a shot through Casey DeSmith at the 7:07 mark of the third period for the game-winning goal in a 2-1 final at PPG Paints Arena.

Ending what was a 202-minute five-on-five drought, with Jake DeBrusk’s goal in last Thursday’s win over the Rangers standing as the team’s last five-on-five goal, Frederic’s goal was the bailout that the Bruins desperately needed.

Held to just one power-play goal through the first 40 minutes of action, and tied at 1-1, momentum seemed to be swinging in the Penguins’ favor out of the second intermission, with the period beginning with five straight shots off Penguin sticks. It didn’t help that the Bruins’ second-period push ended with the Bruins doing absolutely nothing on a five-minute power-play opportunity after Brandon Tanev bodied B’s defenseman Jarred Tinordi out of action.

The Bruins were also asking for a ton out of Daniel Vladar in his first NHL start.

But Vladar was up to task, made key saves early and late, and finished with 34 saves for the first victory of his career. Among Vladar’s best work throughout the night? A first-period robbery of Colton Sceviour, and denials on great chances from Bryan Rust and Sidney Crosby later in the game and with things knotted up at 1-1.

“Just a lucky save,” Vladar said with a smirk.

But the save delivered more than luck to the rest of the Bruins.

“It certainly gave the group confidence,” Cassidy said of Vladar’s first-period stop on Sceviour. “When you make a save like that, it’s bound to lift the guys. I assume it makes him feel pretty good and it certainly gave our guys lift and gave their guys something to think about.”

“Just the happiest guy in the world right now,” Vladar said of his first victory. “It was always my dream to play in the NHL There hasn’t been a better day for me hockey-wise. I’m just so thankful right now that we got the win.”

The Bruins opened their scoring behind a David Pastrnak power-play goal at the 3:20 mark of the first period for his 13th goal of the season. It was Boston’s lone power-play tally on a 1-for-4 night from their man advantage.

The Penguins, meanwhile, got on the board with a Tanev goal 12 minutes after the Pastrnak tally.

The B’s win ended what was a seven-game losing streak (0-5-2) on Pittsburgh ice, with their last win before tonight coming all the way back in Dec. 2015.

Up next, the Bruins will make their way to Buffalo for a two-game set with the Sabres beginning Thursday night.