The visiting Boston Bruins routed top-seeded Pittsburgh 6-1 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final series.
PITTSBURGH — The Boston Bruins keep talking about fortunate bounces and a dash of luck, insisting the margin between themselves and the Pittsburgh Penguins is thin.
At the moment, it looks like a chasm.
Brad Marchand scored twice during a four-goal first period and the Bruins routed Pittsburgh 6-1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“It doesn’t matter what the series is at right now,” Marchand said. “If they get the next one, they’re right back in it. The next one is the one that’s most important.”
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It is a phrase the top-seeded Penguins repeated after losing 3-0 in Game 1 on Saturday to fall behind in a series for the first time in the playoffs. The inspired play they needed in Game 2 never surfaced.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were held scoreless for the second straight contest to send the NHL’s highest-scoring team slouching to Boston for Game 3 on Wednesday.
“Tonight was terrible, there’s no other way to describe it,” Crosby said. “A loss is a loss. It’s frustrating. You don’t like giving one like that. We really didn’t do a lot of things to give ourselves a chance to win. This one, we have to forget pretty quickly.”
It won’t be easy.
David Krejci, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk also scored for Boston while Tuukka Rask stopped 26 shots. Pittsburgh’s top-ranked power play went 0 for 2 and the Penguins were never in the game after the Bruins scored three times in 17 minutes to chase Tomas Vokoun.
Brandon Sutter netted Pittsburgh’s goal. Vokoun gave up three first-period goals on 12 shots before being replaced by Marc-Andre Fleury.
“We’ve gotten away from our game,” Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. “We’ve gotten off our game plan.”
The Bruins had more than a little something to do with it. Pouncing on every mistake — of which there were plenty — Boston buried the Penguins early. Not bad for a team that needed an improbable third-period rally in Game 7 of the first round against Toronto to advance.
In the span of three weeks, Boston has morphed from a team hanging by a thread into one capable of bookending the Stanley Cup it won two years ago.
“Winning that Toronto series created some momentum from that,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. “We’ve been able to keep riding that momentum.”
Pittsburgh blamed its choppy play in the opener on an eight-day layoff, stressing there was no need to panic. It might be time to start now.
After all, the last 16 teams to go up 2-0 in the conference finals have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.