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Rask, Bruins shut down Penguins to snag Eastern finals edge
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Tuukka Rask stopped all 29 shots he faced for his first career playoff shutout, while David Krejci notched a pair of goals to send the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals from CONSOL Energy Center.
Nathan Horton added a goal and the primary assist on Krejci's two markers for the Bruins, who produced the franchise's first postseason whitewash on the road since a 4-0 result in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals at Vancouver nearly two years ago.
"This certainly wasn't easy, because they still had a lot of chances; we were just able to keep them off the scoreboard," Rask said.
Tomas Vokoun suffered the loss despite making 27 saves for the Penguins, who rolled into the semifinal round thanks to a five-game decision over the Ottawa Senators.
Pittsburgh, which hadn't been held scoreless in any contest since February of 2012, will look to even the series at home in Game 2 on Monday.
Boston assumed a 2-0 edge just after four minutes elapsed in the third period. Krejci managed to squeeze off a shot from the right side that deflected into the air off Vokoun's glove, and he outmuscled a Pens defender to poke in his own rebound from atop the crease once the disc settled onto the ice.
"That's just how I play. I don't know. I can't explain it," Krejci offered when asked how he was able to keep his cool in pressure situations.
It was a three-goal spread for the Bruins at 7:51, when Horton snapped home a Gregory Campbell rebound from a sharp angle on the left wing. Vokoun made the initial pad stop but the puck sped directly to the goal scorer for the easy put back.
Seconds later, Rask dove from left to right to deny Sidney Crosby a chance at what was originally a half-open cage. That proved to be the finest of his seven saves in the final 20 minutes and the last quality chance the hosts threw at the visiting net.
"It's just one game," Vokoun said. "It's a best-of-seven series. We're going to regroup."
In a preview of things to come for the hosts, Crosby hit the post on a backhander to the left of Rask on the game's second shift.
The momentum quickly shifted to the Bruins, and Krejci's blistering drive from between the circles off a Horton dish managed to squeeze between Vokoun's pads and over the goal line with 8:23 played in the first period.
Evgeni Malkin narrowly missed tying the game on a backhander which slid through traffic in the crease and out the other side in the final seconds. The Pens were down a goal despite a 12-7 shot edge.
Things took a testy turn when Penguins forward Matt Cooke forced Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid from the contest at the 1:32 mark of the second period, when he hit his defenseless opponent from behind into the end boards while both pursued a puck behind the Boston net.
Cooke was given a major for checking from behind and a game misconduct for his effort, but the Pens escaped with only a three-minute short-handed situation after Boston's Chris Kelly was given a retaliatory roughing minor.
Pittsburgh successfully checked away the opportunity, and dodged another bullet on its subsequent power play as Patrice Bergeron was in alone on Vokoun but lost control of the puck before releasing a shot.
Rask was helped by the left post on two rapid-fire chances from Malkin during a late second-period penalty to Brad Marchand for pushing James Neal from behind.
"We played with a lot of speed and generated a lot. I think we're pretty confident if we play that same way the pucks will go in for us," Crosby admitted. "We hit the post and had some pretty good chances. We had some bounces and unfortunately they didn't go our way."
Boston's victory snapped an eight-game playoff losing skid to Pittsburgh, which dated back to a 4-1 loss in Game 3 of the Wales Conference finals on May 5, 1991. The Penguins won four straight in that series to erase an 0-2 deficit and then swept the Bruins in four straight in 1992, the clubs' last postseason matchup ... The Bruins' win also put the brakes on a five-game skid in the Steel City during the playoffs, dating back to an 8-3 win on April 13, 1980 ... Tim Thomas authored the last Bruins' playoff shutout, a 1-0 overtime decision over Washington on April 12, 2012 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals... Pittsburgh's last home playoff shutout defeat occurred on April 27, 2011, a 1-0 defeat to Tampa Bay in Game 7 of an Eastern quarterfinal ... Bergeron and Malkin tussled at the second-period buzzer, with both players drawing coincidental fighting majors.
06/02 00:13:50 ET
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