The Pittsburgh Penguins had no problems beating one fellow
Stanley Cup contender in their latest game despite the absence of
They’d love to see the same scenario unfold Saturday night in
With Malkin on the shelf again, the Penguins will try to extend
their winning streak to six against a Bruins team that handed them
their most recent defeat.
Pittsburgh (20-9-1) found out Thursday that a lower-body injury
suffered during the morning skate would keep Malkin out that night
versus San Jose, but it thrived even without the NHL’s
second-leading scorer. Sidney Crosby increased his league-leading
total to 41 points with three assists, Chris Kunitz scored twice
and Marc-Andre Fleury made 44 saves in a 5-1 rout of the Pacific
“No one is going to replace Geno,” said winger Jayson Megna, who
scored one of the Penguins’ four goals in a seven-minute span early
in the second period. “We have guys that fill in, step up. If we
stick to our system we don’t complain.”
Pittsburgh will head to Boston without Malkin, but its injury
concerns up front don’t stop there. Pascal Dupuis left Thursday’s
game in the second period with a lower-body injury and may miss
Saturday’s game, while Andrew Ebbett suffered a broken ankle and
was placed on injured reserve.
The Bruins (18-8-2), meanwhile, have issues on their back end.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk was taken off on a stretcher after a hit
from behind by Montreal’s Max Pacioretty in the first period of
Thursday’s 2-1 loss.
Boychuk was taken to the hospital but cleared to travel back to
Boston. He’ll undergo an MRI on his lower back there, though it
appears he’ll be out for a while.
“We’re all hoping he’s going to be okay, but at that moment you
can’t really do much; you’re just hoping that he’s going to be
okay,” said defensive partner Zdeno Chara. “It’s never an easy
The Bruins’ play in the second was also tough to swallow for
coach Claude Julien. Montreal scored both of its goals in that
period while outshooting Boston 18-7.
Julien’s team has a minus-2 goal differential in the second
period this season. It has outscored opponents by 10 in the first
and nine in the third.
“The second period was atrocious,” Julien said. “It was
“There are no excuses about playing with five defensemen. We
have to look in the mirror.”
Defenseman Adam McQuaid has missed nine of the past 12 games
with a groin injury, but the Bruins may be able to afford a dent in
their defensive depth with Tuukka Rask in net. Rask has a 1.69
goals-against average and .941 save percentage at home, both among
the best marks in the league.
He gave up only two goals in the Bruins’ Eastern Conference
finals sweep of Pittsburgh last spring, but has posted the same
line in two starts against the Penguins this season – stopping 28
of 31 shots.
Pittsburgh won 3-2 at home Oct. 30, then the Bruins won 4-3 in
overtime at the TD Garden on Nov. 25 despite blowing a two-goal,
third-period lead as Crosby tied it with 0.3 seconds left.
The Penguins have the NHL’s best power play (26.5 percent) while
both Pittsburgh and Boston have top-five penalty kills, but don’t
expect special teams to be a huge part in this one. There have been
a total of five power plays in the six-plus periods between the
teams this season.
The only game in the last nine in which the Penguins failed to
score with the man advantage (12 for 27, 44.4 percent) was when
they went 0 for 1 against Boston.