PITTSBURGH -- Forward David Krejci scored a pair of goals to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at CONSOL Energy Center.
Krejci is the top scorer in the Stanley Cup playoffs and now has seven goals and 12 assists in 13 postseason games. Teammate Nathan Horton also scored for Boston. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask earned his first career playoff shutout with a 29-save performance against the top offensive team in the NHL.
The Penguins came out fast and furious and sustained pressure on the opening shift. Pittsburgh had plenty of chances, but Rask made the timely saves. The Bruins took the early lead when Krejci’s one-timer from the high slot beat Tomas Vokoun to the five-hole at 8:23 of the first period.
With the Bruins holding a 1-0 lead, the Penguins nearly scored in the closing seconds of the opening period when Evgeni Malkin’s bid slid across the goal line but did not sneak in. Rask finished the period with 12 saves.
After a scoreless second period, the Bruins scored twice in the third period. After Krejci’s second of the game at 4:04, Horton netted his sixth of the playoffs at 7:51 to give Boston a 3-0 lead. With a three-goal cushion, Rask did the rest and the Bruins took the early series lead.
FERENCE RETURNS: In his first game action since he suffered a lower-body injury in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference showed no ill effects from his hiatus, registering an assist on Krejci’s goal. With the assist, Boston’s defensemen have contributed 31 of the team’s 110 points in the Stanley Cup playoffs so far.
COOKE INJURES McQUAID: The Penguins’ Matt Cooke received a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct for his check from behind on the Bruins’ Adam McQuaid at 1:32 of the second period. McQuaid went behind Boston’s net to play the puck and was facing the glass when Cooke hit him from behind. McQuaid was clearly shaken up on the play and remained on the ice for a moment and was tended to by the team trainer. McQuaid went to the locker room and missed approximately nine minutes before he returned to the ice.
DROP ‘EM: After it appeared both teams were skating off the rust in the first period after a week off between games, the physical aspect picked up in the second period. In fact, when the buzzer sounded to end the period, Patrice Bergeron and Malkin, neither known for their fisticuffs, dropped the gloves. After Bergeron hit the ice, Malkin kept throwing punches. During the scrum, Zdeno Chara and Sidney Crosby were chirping at each other. When the ice was finally cleared, Ference and Crosby, along with the refs, had a discussion near the Pittsburgh bench.
SPECIAL TEAMS: In typical Bruins fashion, their penalty kill was strong and the power play struggled. Overall, Boston went 0-for-4 on the man advantage and are now 7-for-36 in the playoffs. After Cooke’s hit on McQuaid, the Bruins only had a three-minute power play since Chris Kelly was called for roughing. Even with a man advantage for that amount of time, the Bruins couldn’t capitalize. With Horton in the box for slashing at 11:04 of the second period, Bergeron had a golden shorthanded opportunity on a breakaway but he couldn’t control his deke and lost the puck. The Penguins went 0-for-5 on the power play.
UP NEXT: Game 2 will be played Monday night at 8 at CONSOL Energy Center.