Bruins-Penguins Preview

BY foxsports • December 17, 2015

After Boston kept the Pittsburgh Penguins winless under new coach Mike Sullivan earlier this week, the Bruins have a chance to quickly do it again.

Looking to extend their recent dominance over the reeling Penguins, the visiting Bruins can sweep this home-and-home with a fourth straight series victory Friday night.

Tuukka Rask made 34 saves and Jimmy Hayes snapped a 15-game goal drought as Boston (17-9-4) dropped Pittsburgh to 0-2-0 since Sullivan replaced the fired Mike Johnston with Wednesday's 3-0 victory.

"You always want to get off to a good start when you're playing those back-to-backs," Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose club has gone 9-1-3 in its last 13, told the team's official website.

"You hope that you can build some momentum, and now, you've got to go back (to Pittsburgh) understanding that they're going to be hungry, and that they're going to be ready for us."

Having gone 9-1-1 in the past 11 matchups including playoffs, Rask and the Bruins have blanked the Penguins (15-12-3) in two straight meetings.

Edmonton was the last team Boston shut out in three consecutive games, spanning the 2006-07 and 2009-10 seasons. The Penguins haven't had it done to them since the New York Rangers did it Feb. 1-March 18, 1970.

At 1-4-1 this month, Pittsburgh has been outscored 7-1 under Sullivan and managed three goals while averaging 40.3 shots in the last three contests. The Penguins are 0 for 14 on the power play in the last six games.

''Well, I think we are getting some chances, we are generating some chances,'' Sullivan said. ''For me, what I see is we have to do a better job playing smarter. I think we are playing hard. I think our energy is there. I think our effort is there.''

Rask rendered that effort moot Wednesday, as he's done often in posting a 1.36 goals-against average during his 7-0-2 stretch. He's stopped 109 of 111 shots and recorded two shutouts in a four-game winning streak.

''He's been feeling it for a little while, maybe the last month,'' Julien said. ''He's been the goaltender we all know he can be."

Rask, likely to be in net Friday, has posted a 1.29 GAA while starting all of Boston's last 11 games against Pittsburgh.

Sidney Crosby has one goal in nine games and no points in the last three. He's totaled one goal and one assist over his last seven regular-season and playoff home games against the Bruins.

"Once we get one or two, hopefully the flood gates open up for us," Crosby told the NHL's official website. "But we can't let it bother us; at the same time, we can't accept it."

With Marc-Andre Fleury expected to miss at least a week due to a concussion, Penguins backup Jeff Zatkoff is set to start again after making 26 saves Wednesday. He's 2-2-1 with a 2.35 GAA this season.

Hayes, with five goals on the season, recorded his third in his last three contests against the Penguins.

"Jimmy's going to have success by going to the net like he did (Wednesday)," Julien said. "He's really good at either tipping pucks or finding loose pucks. He's a big man; he has to play that game."

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