PITTSBURGH — Though his Boston Bruins have taken complete control of the Eastern Conference finals, coach Claude Julien isn’t looking ahead to the Stanley Cup Finals just yet.
Brad Marchand scored two first-period goals, and the Bruins raced to a big early lead on their way to a 6-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 on Monday night at the Consol Energy Center.
Boston has a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series as it heads home for the next two games, beginning with Game 3 on Wednesday night. The Penguins, the conference’s top seed, will need at least a split in Boston just to get the series back to Pittsburgh.
“Anytime you leave the visiting building up 2-0, got to be happy,” Julien said. “We’ve been through enough positives and negatives through the season to know not to get ahead of themselves. The Penguins are a good team. They’re deep and we have to keep playing hard.”
Marchand scored his goals during a four-goal barrage in the opening period. Nathan Horton, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk also had goals for the fourth-seeded Bruins. Jaromir Jagr contributed two assists, and Tuukka Rask stopped 26 shots after shutting out the Penguins in the series opener.
“Everybody contributed,” Bergeron said. “Everyone was on their game and was moving the puck crisp and sharp. We need that because the Penguins are obviously a great team and if we don’t do that they’ll burn us.”
Pittsburgh’s lone goal was scored by Brandon Sutter.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is flummoxed by the way his team has played so far in this series — particularly by the freelancing in the offensive end — but vowed his players would not quit.
“We have gotten off our game plan,” he said. “We’ve got out of kilter and deviated from what we can do. That group will reset, refocus and we’ll come back with how we need to play in Game 3.”
Boston took command of the game from the start, scoring the game’s first three goals to drive Pittsburgh goaltender Tomas Vokoun from the game, and building a 4-1 lead after one period.
Vokoun was making his ninth straight start after replacing Marc-Andre Fleury during Game 4 of the first-round series against the New York Islanders. Vokoun stopped just nine of 12 shots Monday and Fleury stopped 14 of 17 in relief.
While Bylsma wasn’t ready to name a starting goalie for Game 3, he didn’t sound like he was necessarily giving up on Vokoun. The Penguins also had 12 takeaways, including four by captain and leading scorer Sidney Crosby.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of fault in those first three goals by the goaltender,” Bylsma said. “It’s tough to evaluate either goaltender, given the breakdowns that led to the type of scoring chances (the Bruins) had.”
Boston scored on its first shot, just 28 seconds into the game, as Marchand beat Vokoun on a breakaway.
Horton made it 2-0 with 5:23 left in the first as he poked in a rebound of a Torey Krug shot that trickled away from Vokoun. It was Horton’s seventh goal of the postseason.
Vokoun was pulled after giving up a goal to Krejci, who scored with 3:39 remaining in the period on a wrist shot from the left circle. Krejci’s eighth goal moved him into a tie with Chicago’s Patrick Sharp for most in this postseason.
Fleury replaced Vokoun and received a loud ovation from the home crowd. The move seemed to give the Penguins momentum as they scored their first goal of the series with 51 seconds left in the first. Sutter’s shot hit the crossbar and trickled behind Rask for his second goal of the playoffs.
However, the Bruins answered just 42 seconds later when Marchand whipped a shot past Fleury for his fourth goal of the playoffs and second of the period.
“It was good to get that shift right away where we scored,” Bergeron said. “I’m sure that first goal gave them some momentum on their bench so we needed to have a strong shift to answer it.”
Bergeron scored 26 seconds into the third period to put the Bruins ahead 5-1 and end any chance of the Penguins making a comeback. It was Bergeron’s fourth goal of the playoffs.
Boychuk added a goal with 1:26 left to complete the Bruins’ domination, even though they held only a slight 28-27 edge in shots on goal. It was Boychuk’s fifth of the postseason.
“We had some good bounces go our way early in the game and were able to establish the lead and go from there,” Julien said. “The confidence builds pretty quickly when you have an early lead in the visiting building. Our guys did a good job of playing a solid two-way game. We made lots of plays.”
NOTES: Boston had just two takeaways, 10 fewer than Pittsburgh. … The Penguins were credited with 37 hits to the Bruins’ 19 and LW Matt Cooke had a game-high six. … Bruins D Zdeno Chara blocked four shots. … Marchand was plus-4 while LW James Neal and D Kris Letang both were minus-3 for the Penguins. … Pittsburgh made two lineup changes from Game 1, dressing C Joe Vitale and D Deryk Engelland and scratching C Tyler Kennedy and D Mark Eaton. … The Penguins recalled G Jeff Zatkoff from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League to give them depth in net behind Vokoun, Fleury and Eric Hartzell. … Jagr skipped the morning skate, not unusual since the 41-year-old often saves his energy for the game. … Torey Krug said he broke his “lucky” stick in Game 1. He had used the stick to score all four of his playoff goals.