Penguins Clinch Eastern Conference
BOSTON – Another emotional video tribute. Another stirring performance of the national anthem by a packed arena. Another hockey game in Boston.
The sport returned to the city Saturday, a day after a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was captured, and the fans welcomed their Bruins back with cheers and greeted the Pittsburgh Penguins with jeers.
The Penguins clinched home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 3-2 win in the Bruins’ second game since the bombings. It had been postponed from Friday night because of the manhunt. The mood was more somber Wednesday night in another 3-2 loss at home in a shootout to the Buffalo Sabres.
“It was a little more of a celebration with everyone here, more of an opportunity for us to thank (police) and give our respects for the amazing job they did,” Boston’s Brad Marchand said. “It just seems like there’s a whole different aura around the building. … Everyone was a little more safe and excited that it’s over.”
A pregame slideshow on the video board above center ice showed pictures of smiling policemen after the second suspect was taken into custody. Also shown were individual photos of Lu Lingzi, Krystle Campbell and Martin Richard, who were killed in Monday’s bombings, and Sean Collier, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer shot to death by the suspects.
“Any human being would find some type of emotion in that pregame video and the memory when they’re showing the victims,” Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik said.
With the victory, the Penguins took a nine-point lead in the Eastern Conference over Montreal, which could get only eight more points in its remaining four games. The Bruins remained in fourth place with 57 points, 11 behind the Penguins, with five games to go.
With the score 1-1 on goals by Marchand in the first period and Pittsburgh’s Jussi Jokinen in the second, the Penguins got two power-play goals in 4 minutes. Tyler Seguin scored the final goal for the Bruins with 2.6 seconds remaining.
Iginla, nearly traded to Boston three weeks ago, played his first game against the Bruins since he was dealt by Calgary to Pittsburgh on March 28.
He was booed every time he touched the puck during a third-period power play. The jeers grew louder after he scored on a 50-foot shot from the center of the blue line as Chris Kunitz screened goalie Tuukka Rask.
Kris Letang scored on another power play against the NHL’s top penalty-killing team at 8:29.
Marchand’s opening goal at 10:18 of the first period was his team-leading 17th and also came on a power play. Zdeno Chara carried the puck into center ice and passed to Marchand on the left. Marchand then sped between two Penguins in the left circle and beat goalie Tomas Vokoun from 15 feet at 10:18.
The Penguins tied it on Jokinen’s 10th goal at 5:10 of the second period. With the puck loose in front of the net, Rask stretched to his left but Jokinen lifted it above the goalie’s glove.