Very bad luck dooms the Penguins in a 2-1 loss to the Bruins

Sam Lafferty #37 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Sam Lafferty #37 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

An injury to Evgeni Malkin and an ejection for Brandon Tanev left the Pittsburgh Penguins shorthanded in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins Tuesday night

It would be easy to blame the refs for Tuesday’s loss to the Bruins. But that’s not the case.

On the second half of a hard-fought back-to-back against a tough, physical Bruins team, the Penguins lost a tightly contested one goal game. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort. It was just an extremely unlucky night for the Pens. A winning streak may be over, but you can’t win them all.

With Teddy Blueger a late scratch, the Penguins were already at a disadvantage going into the contest. When Evgeni Malkin took a hard hit from Bruins defenseman Jarred Tinordi early in the first period, Malkin slowly labored to the bench and eventually into the locker room.

Malkin returned to the game later in the period, but he did not return after the intermission. With Malkin and Blueger out, the Penguins finished the remainder of the contest painfully thin at center. It only got worse in the second period.

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Brandon Tanev wound up with a chance to check Tinordi later in the second, bearing down on Tinordi 8-to-10 feet from the boards. Tanev collided with Tinordi, with shoulder-to-shoulder front-facing contact, and Tinordi fell awkwardly into the boards.

Awful result and I hope Tinordi is OK, but the hit wasn’t dirty to me. If anything, give Tanev two minutes for charging. It wasn’t late, it wasn’t high, but it was unfortunate that Tinordi was hurt. A five minute major and game misconduct for Tanev felt excessive, and it does illuminate the discrepancies in officiating this season. It’s tough on the players out there.

With a third of the Pens’ top nine missing after the Tanev ejection, the Penguins rallied to play an inspired third period. However, that effort wasn’t enough to overcome the Bruins.

Casey DeSmith was strong in net, stopping 31 of 33 shots from the Bruins, and the Penguins generated 35 of their own shots — Bruins rookie goaltender Daniel Vladar was just too strong in net.

The Penguins will need to continue to be resilient as Blueger’s injury appears to be “longer-term” and Malkin will continue to be evaluated. With both out, the Pens’ center depth is going to be tested.

Despite the loss, the Pens remain in good shape in the standings. Five points behind the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders and three points ahead of the Bruins, the Pens simply must string together more wins to stay afloat.

First Period – 1-1

Trading power play chances with the Bruins is not the recipe for success for the Penguins, and that was proven early in the period.

After an early Penguins’ power play dissolved into 4-on-4 play following a hook from Malkin, the Bruins rode out the even strength chance and eventually capitalized on their own shortened power play.

Bruins forward David Pastrnak built up some serious speed in the neutral zone and collected a pass that cut through the Penguins’ penalty killers and flew around a stationary Brian Dumoulin. Pastrnak raced in on DeSmith, opened his five-hole with a deke and slotted it through to open the scoring. 1-0, Bruins.

Shoddy defending from the Penguins, even from Dumoulin who completely lost track of Pastrnak.

Just like Monday’s game against the Bruins, DeSmith faced a barrage of early shots from the B’s. Aside from the Pastrnak goal, he was perfect. The Bruins didn’t exactly help themselves either though, whiffing on some high-quality chances.

Just after another failed Penguins’ power play, Kasperi Kapanen stole a puck inside the Pens’ offensive zone and drifted toward the boards, spinning and firing a shot on net. Evan Rodrigues was in position in front of the net, deflecting the puck off Vladar’s pads, and Tanev was in place the bury the rebound. 1-1 now.

Second Period – 1-1

Despite his brief return in the first period, Malkin was not seen on the bench to begin the second.

And like the first period, a Penguins’ power play chance was cut short by a Pens’ penalty. However, this time, the Bruins were unable to capitalize on their shortened power play chance.

Marcus Pettersson took a penalty later in the period, the third time in four games picking up a penalty. It’s been a poor month for Petterson, who picked up three penalties alone against the Flyers earlier this month.

The aforementioned Tanev hit on Tinordi was reviewed and confirmed by the officials, and the Bruins started their five minute power play. The B’s were unable to generate much offense on their long man-up chance, giving the Penguins chances on the penalty kill.

With a few ticks under 30 seconds remaining on the power play, Mark Jankowski found himself breaking in on Vladar alone. The already boisterous crowd, which loudly expressed its displeasure with the outcome of the Tanev hit, was ready to erupt.

Unfortunately, Jankowski’s shot bounce off Vladar, and the nuclear explosion of noise inside PPG Paints Arena was averted.

The Penguins rode a small wave of momentum off the successful penalty kill, but Vladar stopped a strong chance from Bryan Rust toward the end of the period to keep the score locked at one.

There might have only been 2,800 fans inside PPG Paints Tuesday night, but even from my house, I could hear the impact their presence had on the game — their chants raining down on the ice.

Third Period – 2-1, Bruins

An early power play chance for the Penguins resulted in nothing, and the Pens’ chance to pull ahead against the odds wasted away. The PP units were disjointed all night, which continues to be a trend.

Despite playing well in the third period, the Bruins struck first on a Trent Fredric game winner.

Hopping off the bench, Bruins forward Fredric skated into the B’s offensive zone as teammate Patrice Bergeron kept possession of the puck inside his offensive zone and slotted a puck up the boards to Jakob Zboril. Zboril fed the streaking Fredric, who wristed a shot that DeSmith never saw into the back of the net.

Kris Letang and Pastrnak provided a screen in front of the net — capping off a brilliant shift for the Bruins’ top line.

The Penguins made a late push, helped by empty net misses from Pastrnak and teammate Brad Marchand, but were unable to solve Vladar. The Pens generated chances right up until the final whistle, but the rookie goaltender earned his first NHL win — in his first game — with a brilliant performance.

A busy schedule rolls on, without some key names potentially, with a three game series against the New Jersey Devils. The first in the series comes Thursday night, with the puck drop scheduled for 7:00 p.m. As always, AT&T SportsNet will provide local coverage and ESPN+ will provide national coverage.

Next. Check out how Evgeni Malkin's resurgence has been helped by Kasperi Kapanen. dark

It was a tough game for the Penguins, but they fought until the final whistle. What did you think of the Pens effort?