Many Pittsburgh Penguins fans left the Consol Energy Center a little earlier than they anticipated on Saturday evening.
What’s surprising is the way they did it.
Tuukka Rask recorded his first career playoff shutout as the Bruins took Game 1 by a 3-0 score. The last time the Penguins were shut out was 96 games ago, on February 1, 2012.
The Bruins dominated in the faceoff circle, took advantage of Pittsburgh’s defensive lapses and had a little luck on their side as well, considering the Penguins struck iron at least three times. Overall they were the better team, as David Krejci patted his playoff scoring lead, notching two goals.
But Boston’s ability to keep Pittsburgh’s all-star lineup in check isn’t the only reason why this series should be a memorable one.
These two teams haven’t faced each other in the playoffs in 22 years, but you wouldn’t have known that from the nasty, physical play.
It got started when Matt Cooke, who is no stranger to controversy—particularly when it comes to the Bruins—leveled Adam McQuaid from behind early in the second. Cooke was handed a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct.
McQuaid left the ice, but did return to the game.
Later in the second, it was Brad Marchand who had Penguins fans up in arms. First, he got away with what appeared to be clear interference on Kris Letang, as Patrice Bergeron broke in on a breakaway. Soon after that he gave James Neal a shot from behind in front of the Pittsburgh bench. However, unlike Cooke, Marchand received just a two-minute penalty for boarding.
As the second period came to an end, Sidney Crosby and Rask had a brief encounter before Crosby and Zdeno Chara got into a heated exchange. As this was going on, Evgeni Malkin and Patrice Bergeron dropped the gloves in what proved to be a short but entertaining fight.
In the end they combined for over 50 hits and 45 penalty minutes, most of which came in the second frame. These two teams suddenly appear to hate each other, which could lead to some interesting developments in the upcoming games.
Perhaps this series will become somewhat of a combination of last year's Penguins vs. Flyers series and the Bruins vs. Canucks Stanley Cup Final of 2011. There is plenty of skill and speed on each roster, but also tremendous size and physicality.
All this and there is still the minor storyline involving Jarome Iginla, who pushed to be traded to Pittsburgh rather than Boston. If nothing else, the fans at TD Garden in Boston will let the former captain of the Calgary Flames hear it.
There are no guarantees of anything after Game 1 in a series, but this one does have the potential to be a classic.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.