Penguins vs. Bruins Preview
BOSTON, MA (AP) - The Boston Bruins spent much of the season's first three months with a middling offense in front of the outstanding Tim Thomas, but lately scoring hasn't been an issue.
The Pittsburgh Penguins don't need to be reminded.
Four goals in the final four minutes earlier this week lifted Boston to its second stunning third-period comeback in Pittsburgh, a pattern the Penguins hope doesn't follow them to TD Garden on Saturday afternoon when the surging Bruins seek a fourth straight win.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGlobal.com have made the Bruins -136 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Penguins. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 67% of more than 57 bets for this game have been placed on the Penguins +126.
Boston (24-12-7) averaged 2.78 goals in its first 32 games - 14th in the NHL - but scored one or no goals in eight of those games. That led to a 17-11-4 record despite allowing the fewest goals in the league, led by Thomas' 1.70 goals-against average.
Lately, the Bruins have turned their mediocre offense into a rather potent one. They've averaged 3.55 goals while going 7-1-3 in their last 11 games despite Thomas' 2.38 GAA in seven starts during that stretch.
Boston's offense has totaled two goals on 39 shots in the first and second periods in two games against Pittsburgh (27-14-4) this season, but it's more than made up for it in the third. The Bruins scored four times in the final 3:23 Monday at Consol Energy Center, turning a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 win two months to the day after scoring five times in the third of a 7-4 victory there.
"I'd like them to remember it," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said after his team fell to 19-3-0 when leading after 40 minutes.
Boston routed Ottawa 6-0 a night later back home, then was faced with another deficit after two periods Thursday against Philadelphia, trailing 3-2.
The Bruins continued their penchant for comebacks against Pennsylvania clubs. Mark Recchi started the third-period scoring 38 seconds in, and Boston got four more goals in a wild 7-5 victory.
Coach Claude Julien's club is 5-9-4 when trailing after two. Four clubs - including the Penguins - haven't won in that situation.
"That was a roller coaster,'' Thomas said after improving to 20-4-6 despite allowing five goals for the first time since Dec. 4, 2009. "Sometimes the best laid plans don't work out that way and you have to roll with the punches.''
That's what Pittsburgh's been trying to do while Sidney Crosby's been sidelined with a concussion, but it couldn't find any offensive consistency as it totaled three goals in dropping the first three games without its captain.
The Penguins got a major boost from their power play Wednesday at Montreal. Trailing 2-1 early in the second period, Pittsburgh struck four times with the man advantage in a 5-2 victory.
"It was big," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "We lost a tough one against Boston. Just to get that many goals, and the power play doing so well, that was good for us."
Crosby's return date is still unclear, and Bylsma said Thursday he won't be giving updates until the NHL's leading scorer progresses.
Tuukka Rask started Monday's win over the Penguins while Thomas has been in net for the last two games, and it's uncertain who Julien plans to go with Saturday. Thomas, however, has a 3.42 GAA in his last five starts versus Pittsburgh.
Fleury isn't concerned with who's starting - he's just glad the Penguins get another shot at the Bruins.
"I think everybody's looking forward to having a chance to play them so quickly after the other night," said Fleury, who's 2-1-1 with a 1.97 GAA in four starts at Boston. "... Hopefully we get two points there."