Despite being two Eastern Conference powerhouses, the Bruins and Penguins rarely met in the playoffs, keeping a potentially boiling rivalry at a simmer. Maybe it’s fitting, then, that they start to build up some hatred while they’re in the East Division?
Either way, it was nasty at times on Tuesday. In snapping a two-game skid and ending a six-game winning streak for the Penguins, Boston handed Pittsburgh a bitter 2-1 defeat.
Big hits: Tinordi on Malkin, then Tanev on Tinordi
Big-picture-wise, these hits could be significant. If Evgeni Malkin misses time from the hit he received from Jarred Tinordi, that could be huge for a Penguins team that seemed to be creating distance in the East.
But one big, controversial hit ended up being less pivotal in the Bruins – Penguins game itself on Tuesday.
Considering how dangerous the Bruins can be, Brandon Tanev getting ejected (and thus receiving a controversial major penalty) could’ve been a turning point.
Remarkably, the Penguins killed the entire five-minute major for the Bruins. The score stayed 1-1, and the game would be decided by the rest of the game.
(Granted, you could argue that killing that major left the Penguins that much more tired, not an irrelevant point being that they’re closing off a back-to-back set.)
Either way, the Bruins didn’t go ahead directly from that moment, so the Penguins can definitely take something away from that. Pittsburgh’s likely not all that interested in moral victories, though.
Especially if it means not even receiving a “charity point” in defeat.
Vladar shines on a night for lesser-known goalies
For the first time in his career, Dan Vladar received a start. Considering the quality of that start, Vladar probably deserves another one. Or three.
The highlight was this magnificent save:
Overall, Vladar made 34 saves, with Brandon Tanev scoring Pittsburgh’s only goal. Vladar outmatched Casey DeSmith, though DeSmith was sharp as well with 31 stops.
When David Pastrnak scored a power-play goal just 3:20 in, it seemed like the Bruins and Penguins might trade blows. That might have happened in the physical sense, but it was a quiet one on the scoreboard. Thank Vladar and DeSmith for that one.
The Bruins have to be delighted to win despite (relatively) modest nights from “The Perfection Line.” Instead, it was Trent Frederic who scored the game-winner. (Maybe appropriate considering the nastiness of this Penguins – Bruins contest.)
After this one, the Bruins and Penguins likely won’t be fooling around on April 1 and 3, their next two meetings.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.