It's a bizarre vortex. Take nothing away from the Bruins. They walked into CEC and made a statement. But the Penguins didn't play a bad game. In our goalie preview for the series, we looked at goalies comparable to Tuukka Rask. One name that showed up was Semyon Varlamov.
This series already has a 2009 Caps/Pens feel to it. Rask looked like the good version of Varlamov that showed up in those first two games in Washington. But eventually the dam broke.
Rask didn't "steal" this game, though. He just made the saves he had to and got some bounces. This was like Craig Anderson's performance in Game 3 of the Sens series, in that he just refused to be beaten. Just sucks that the Pens ran into it in the first game of this series.
So what happened? Maybe a combo of a long time off and the fact that the Bruins are way better than the Senators. Or maybe it was the two best teams in the East battling, and one of them got the better bounces. Game Two's response by the Pens will tell us even more. If you're a fan of the Bruins, getting out of Game One alive has to feel like a blessing. This series is gonna head to Boston 1-1, and everything will kick up a notch.
For now, here's a recap of Game One:
It was just great to have hockey back. That feeling went away fast, and it was back to business. Letang lit up Marchand on one of the first shifts. The Pens were punishing Marchand for that whole period.
After The Hair pinched, the Bruins had a 3-on-1 headed the other way, with Double J captaining the ship. Nothing happened with that.
Malkin made his first appearance of the series, and he looks like he's on a completely different level. That level is called the Eastern Conference Finals. Krejci had to trip him, and the Pens got a PP. Gregory Campbell sucks, and the Bruins killed it.
There was a frantic pace up and down the ice for most of the period. After some shit, the Pens left David Krejci all alone in the high slot long enough to erect a log cabin. He had all day to shoot. 1-0.
Something was weird about that play. Paul Martin went down to take away the bottom part of the net. Doing this caused the puck to hit him and deflect past Vokoun. Paul Martin never leaves his feet, and upon further review you can see Ference kicked out Martin's left skate, forcing Martin to go down.
Not a dirty play or anything. It wasn't even intentional. But in that moment that Ference and Martin get tied up, Martin couldn't get to Krejci, so he had to go down.
Also on the play, Crosby kind of forgot to cover Krejci:
Rough night for Crosby. Because then he took a penalty interfering with Bergeron.
The Bruins didn't even have a shot on that PP, and it was killed. Crosby came out of the box, tripped over the blue line, touched up, got interfered with, and still got a decent chance on Rask.
It was becoming clear that the Pens' speed was giving the Bruins fits. Malkin drew his second penalty of the period when both Bergeron and Jagr could've been called for like 5 penalties, but the ref finally called Bergeron for a hook at the last second. That PP made some moves, but no dice.
Brenden Morrow was hitting everything. Brandon Sutter was the most noticeable he's been for the entire playoffs.
Orpik interfered with a Bruin, and the Pens had to kill another one, so they did.
The Penguins had one of their best chances in the dying seconds of the period. Malkin worked his ass off to get a puck free. He got a bounce off the boards. No clue how this didn't go in:
Probably Malkin's best game in a while.
Such solid action in this game. But then things got real.
Matt Cooke got 5 and a game for this:
Yeah, that is no question a bad hit. But did it deserve a five-minute penalty? Most importantly, they threw Cooke out of the game. NBC also went to stock footage of the Savard/Cooke thing. Should've went to stock footage of the Bruins training staff poorly handling Savard's injury if they wanted to use the "Marc Savard's career is over" narrative.
There was a 4-on-4 for two minutes, because the Bruins got a penalty, and the Pens made some moves.
Then the Bruins had a 3-minute power play that ended up being meaningless. All killed.
Dupuis wrecked Ference after the penalty was over, and that was hilarious.
After some shit, Malkin got slashed, and the Pens jumped onto a power play that turned out to be Vietnam. Kunitz hit the post right off the face-off, then it started getting crazy.
Kris Letang does so many good things. But then he made a terrible pass to Malkin. It sent the Bruins on a 2-on-0. Letang tried to get back into the play, but Marchand interfered with him.
That official probably had a pretty good chuckle about it. Marchand definitely interfered, but Letang went to Adam McQuaid levels in trying to buy the call. Marchand didn't even have to do it in the first place. Bergeron got poke-checked by Vokoun and then got swarmed by Penguins in the corner.
Later on, Marchand delivered the same kind of hit that Cooke gave McQuaid, but he only went off for two minutes.
Neal's only mistake was being a man and getting up.
66 wasn't impressed by the call.
The Pens' power play again had some chances but couldn't bring the house down.
And then things got intense. Crosby and Chara were jawing at each other right before the end of the second, and then they really started going at it.
Crosby then said something to Rask.
Next thing you know, Malkin and Bergeron were fighting.
-- Chara didn't come off the ice. Played 26:42. Kris Letang played the 25 most bizarre minutes of his career.
-- Pens got wrecked in the faceoff circle, 32-16.
-- That Torey Krug guy is bad.