PITTSBURGH — Boston strong indeed.
Brad Marchand scored twice during a four-goal first period and the Boston Bruins routed the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night.
David Krejci, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk also scored for Boston, which hardly broke a sweat while going up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. Tuukka Rask kept Sidney Crosby and the rest of the NHL’s top offense in check once again, stopping 26 shots.
Game 3 is Wednesday night in Boston.
Brandon Sutter netted Pittsburgh’s lone goal. Tomas Vokoun gave up three first-period goals on 12 shots before being replaced by Marc-Andre Fleury.
The move did little to blunt the momentum in what has quickly become a one-sided series. Boston held Pittsburgh’s top-ranked power play scoreless for the second straight game, and the Bruins looked like the team marked as the Stanley Cup favorites, not the star-laden Penguins.
Boston insisted it was fortunate to escape Game 1 with a 3-0 victory, saying a couple of bounces could have changed the course of the game dramatically.
The Penguins blamed their choppy play, including a rare fight by Evgeni Malkin, on an eight-day layoff, stressing there was no need to panic.
The past 16 teams to go up 2-0 in the conference finals have advanced to the Stanley Cup finals. The Penguins managed to escape a 2-0 hole against the Bruins in 1991 on their way to the franchise’s first championship.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: The Los Angeles Kings have been in all types of jams during the past two postseasons. Just a few weeks ago, they even escaped the same 0-2 deficit they’re now facing.
“We’ve been here, what, three weeks ago?” forward Justin Williams asked, referring to the Kings’ escape in the first round against St. Louis. “Obviously it’s not do-or-die (in Game 3), but it is.”
Yet the defending Stanley Cup champions aren’t sure they’ve tangled with an opponent that could match the depth and versatility of the Chicago Blackhawks, who might even be the team to end Los Angeles’ 2½ months of perfection at home.
After back-to-back losses in Chicago, the Kings are hoping they can stay perfect at Staples Center in a crucial Game 3 tonight. The Kings have won 14 in a row at home since March, and they’ve won seven consecutive home playoff games dating to last season’s Stanley Cup clincher.
The Kings have no idea why they’ve been unbeatable at Staples Center, but they realize their repeat hopes depend on it.
“Home ice is something we’ve been able to rely on, and have in our back pocket,” Williams said Monday after the Kings’ team meeting at their training complex. “I’m (also) not sure why we went 10-1 on the road last year (in the playoffs). Certainly our confidence is high for us coming back home. There’s been a lot of success there. We’ve won every which way there, and it’s going to have to continue.”