“It’s a different look,” Bylsma said.
One that will only certainly get worse if Pittsburgh can’t collect itself in Game 2 on Monday night.
The Bruins rode David Krecji’s two goals, Tuukka Rask’s 29 saves and a hefty amount of antagonism to frustrate the Penguins into the kind of chippy play that does little favors to one of the NHL’s most talented teams.
For a spell in the second period, the Penguins seemed more intent in sending a message than evening the score.
Forward Matt Cooke earned a major boarding penalty and a game misconduct for blasting Boston’s Adam McQuaid behind the Bruins net. Forward Chris Kunitz was slapped with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after mixing it up with Boston’s Rich Peverley and reigning NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin traded punches with Patrice Bergeron at the end of the period. The fight was the fourth of Malkin’s seven-year career and a symbol of just how frayed the top-seeded Penguins appeared.
Cooke understands he and the rest of his teammates will have to keep them in check. The NHL declined to further penalize Cooke for his hit on McQuaid, meaning he’ll be back on the ice Monday, offering Cooke a sense of relief. Once one of the league’s most notorious hitters, Cooke missed Pittsburgh’s opening round loss to Tampa Bay two years ago while serving a suspension. He has since cleaned up his act, though watching the second half of the game from the dressing room gave him unwelcome flashbacks.
“I’ve been in that situation before and it’s no fun,” he said. “I’m thankful I can go out tomorrow night and help my team.”
The Penguins could certainly use it after the Bruins took away the open space the Penguins enjoyed during first and second round wins over the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators. Whenever Pittsburgh did generate some momentum, Rask found a way to get a glove, a pad or a stick on whatever the Penguins threw his way.
Having a handful of shots clang off the posts helped. So did a defense that made things uncomfortable for Sidney Crosby and the rest of the star-laden Penguins.
“Tuukka stood tall and made a lot of saves at the right time,” Boston’s Brad Marchand said. “We just want to make sure we collapse low and try to take away lanes.”
Something the Penguins failed to do against Krejci. The NHL’s leading scorer during the postseason pushed his point total to 19 with his sixth and seventh goals of the playoffs. He beat Tomas Vokoun with a semi-flubbed wrist shot in the first period then added a gritty score in the third period when he charged the net and knocked in a rebound.
It’s what Krejci tends to do this time of year. He put up a league-high 23 points in the 2011 playoffs while leading the Bruins to their first championship in nearly four decades. He’s on pace to crush that number through 13 games.