Six wins in a row and counting: the Penguins cruise past the Bruins

Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Tristan Jarry saved 42 shots from the Boston Bruins and Evgeni Malkin scored his 1,100 career point to propel the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 win Monday night

The reports of Evgeni Malkin’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, or whatever Mark Twain said.

Throughout his rollercoaster season, Malkin has been a lightning rod for criticism — some warranted and some not so much. Regardless, if the Penguins wanted to do anything this season, Geno needed to find another gear.

It’s safe to say whatever was ailing Malkin to start the season is now firmly in the rearview mirror.

With points in his last eight games now, Malkin has been a huge reason for the Penguins’ current six game win streak. With a goal and an assist against the Bruins, Geno has 24 points in 28 games this season. And if the Bruins game was any indication, he’s hitting that next gear.

Malkin looked like the player of old — or even just last season — as he flew around the ice, deked around and through defenders and created chances in the offensive zone. At full flight, Geno is truly a sight to behold.

He wasn’t alone either. Sidney Crosby bounced back from a couple of mediocre games by his lofty standards and dominated play at even strength and — at times — on the power play. His three points against the Bruins pushed his team-leading totals to 29 in 27 games this season.

However good Crosby and Malkin may have been against the Bruins though, it wouldn’t have mattered at all if Tristan Jarry hadn’t stood on his head and stopped 42 of 43 Bruins’ shots.

Since Feb. 9, Jarry has simply put together a .927 save percentage and 2.38 goals against average, which would rank among the better goaltenders in the NHL this season. His .906 save percentage and 2.89 GAA have come a long, long way from the first half month of the season.

The early sentiment was that Jarry simply had to do enough to not cost the Penguins the game. Since his return to form, it’s been that Jarry doesn’t need to steal games to pick up wins but just provide a steady presence in net.

Jarry absolutely stole a game for the Penguins against the Bruins, don’t let a 4-1 score fool you.

The Bruins may have outshot the Penguins 43-26, but Jarry was a brick wall in net, and the Pens’ studs absolutely dominated play when they were on the ice. That’s a very, very good strategy for success.

With the win, the Penguins moved to stand five points ahead of the Bruins in the East division. Also keeping pace with the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals, who have continued their own winning streaks.

First Period – 2-1, Penguins

It wouldn’t be a true Penguins win without a comeback, would it? Those clean, boring wins against the Buffalo Sabres didn’t truly get Pens’ fans’ hearts pumping.

Well, on an early power play off a slash from Bryan Rust, the Bruins kicked the night off with a seeing-eye shot from defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. With teammate Nick Ritchie taking away Jarry’s vision in front of the net, Gryzelcyk received a pass near the blue line and drifted toward the point before wristing a shot at Jarry.

With Jarry effectively screened off by Ritchie, the shot just found the inside of the post, avoiding Jarry’s shoulder and clinking off the inside of the pipe into the back of the net. 1-0, Bruins.

The Penguins simply don’t have anyone to clear in front of the net, and big guys like Ritchie can just park in front of Jarry and create chaos.

Rust and Kasperi Kapanen both missed some narrow chances, Kapanen whiffing at the conclusion of a beautiful passing play from Evan Rodrigues and Malkin, before the Penguins generated their first goal.

Bruins forward Brad Marchand couldn’t corral a puck in the neutral zone, his attempt at gloving the puck missing, and Kapanen picked up the puck. Kap skated into the zone and fed Rodrigues, who fired a knuckle puck under Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak’s glove. 1-1.

It wasn’t much longer before the Penguins pounced again, with Brian Dumoulin creating a chance off a rush out of the defensive zone by feeding Crosby. Crosby played a puck to Jake Guentzel just inside the blue line and drifted toward the goal line. Guentzel knocked a puck back to Crosby, and Sid scored yet another goal at an impossible angle to give the Pens a late lead. 2-1, Penguins.

Second Period – 3-1, Penguins

The Penguins and Bruins traded power play chances early in the period, but neither extra-man unit was able to capitalize on their chance.

However, when Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton tripped Rodrigues midway through the second period, the Penguins were afforded another chance.

With half of the penalty killed, Kris Letang played a puck to Crosby at the left point. Sid collected the puck and threaded a nice pass back through the Bruins’ penalty killers to Malkin. Malkin skated in on net and fired a shot over Halak’s glove to score. 3-1, Penguins.

In the process, Geno became the third-fastest active NHL player to reach the 1,100 point mark, accomplishing the feat in 935 games. A fitting night for him to reach such an honor.

A frustrated Bruins team played with an edge through the rest of the period, and Clifton even took another silly penalty after the whistle, but the ensuing Penguins’ power play generated more chances for the Bruins. So… same old Pens’ power play there.

Third Period – 4-1, Penguins

With a little over half the period played, the Bruins’ power play was awarded a golden opportunity with Brandon Tanev in the locker room after a hard shot off the wrist and Teddy Blueger in the box after taking the penalty.

With the Penguins’ top penalty killers in the box, the Bruins still couldn’t cut into the Pens’ lead. Jarry was once again marvelous on the penalty kill, stopping a few strong chances.

The Penguins’ power plays in the period fizzled out without too many chances, and the Bruins pulled Halak with around a minute left. While Jarry didn’t get a chance on the empty net this time, Crosby, Guentzel and Rust capped off an empty net chance with a Guentzel goal.

A win against the Bruins is always nice, but the Penguins will not have long to celebrate their victory. The teams will be back in action Tuesday night, with puck drop scheduled for 7:00 p.m. AT&T SportsNet will provide local coverage and ESPN+ will provide national coverage.

Next. Check out how Mat Barzal was to being a Penguins' draft pick. dark

What did you think of the Penguins’ game against the Bruins? Who would you say was the game’s No. 1 star?