PITTSBURGH — Jaromir Jagr’s signature item is his Bruins wool cap he wears for his solo spins around the ice. After the 6-1 Game 2 thrashing of the Penguins Monday night, Jagr added the team’s Army Rangers jacket given to the player his teammates believed contributed most to the win.
Jagr made the play on the game’s most important goal. The Penguins had just gotten some energy. At 19:26 of the first, Brandon Sutter ripped a bead over Tuukka Rask’s blocker to give the Penguins their first goal of the series.
The Penguins were just over 30 seconds away from taking some good vibes into the dressing room. Instead, they trudged into the room down by three goals once more.
That’s because Jagr came out on the right end of a car crash with Brooks Orpik. The former Boston College defenseman tried to keep the puck inside the offensive zone. But Jagr thumped Orpik to nudge the puck into center ice. From there, Jagr gave the puck to Patrice Bergeron. In turn, Bergeron fed Brad Marchand.
The left wing snapped the puck over Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove at 19:51. In the opening minute, Marchand had beaten Tomas Vokoun glove side, too.
“I just took a hit,” Jagr said. “Marshy made a two-on-two a two-on-one. Marshy had confidence about his shot. He scored one top shelf on the left side, so he tried the other side. It was a good shot.”
It was Jagr’s first point of the series. He went scoreless in the five-game series against the Rangers. Jagr had one assist in Game 7 against Toronto.
His flickering offensive output and heavy defensive legs were concerns heading into the Eastern Conference finals. Jagr answered both those worries in Game 2.
Jagr’s two-assist night — he had a helper on Bergeron’s third-period goal — was a welcome addition to the Bruins’ attack. Jagr’s defensive-minded boss, naturally, also liked his play on Marchand’s goal.
“Jags, the passes he made and even that hit in front of our bench that turned the puck over, that allowed Marchand to score a goal,” Claude Julien said. “He’s come in to play for us and he’s played well.”
Jagr has not been a defensive liability. Jagr, Bergeron, and Marchand, matched mostly against Pittsburgh’s No. 1 line, have turned Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, and Pascal Dupuis into afterthoughts. None of their opponents has scored a point. The only Penguins without zeros on the scoresheet are third-liners Sutter and Matt Cooke and defenseman Paul Martin.
It isn’t just Bergeron’s line doing the defensive grunt work. All four lines are playing good two-way hockey. For Jagr, who’s played on some top-heavy clubs, it is a new thing.
“Probably the key is our coach rolling four lines,” Jagr said. “All four lines are able to score goals and defend. Through my experience, I never really played on a team where all four lines can play that good. It’s a huge advantage in the playoffs.”
Krug comes through
Compared with his offensive brilliance against the Rangers, Torey Krug is slumping in the Eastern Conference finals. Krug hasn’t scored a goal in two straight games. He scored four goals in five games against the Rangers.
Krug showed, however, that he’s no offensive slacker.
Krug made the critical play on the Bruins’ game-winning goal in the first period. Boston was on the power play after Orpik was called for elbowing. The Penguins had killed off the penalty. Orpik stormed out of the box.
Kris Letang saw Orpik and tried to connect with the defenseman. But Krug read the play and picked off Letang’s pass. Then, Krug recognized that Orpik was looming. He could have pulled the cord and peeled out of the way.
Instead, Krug set himself against the impending collision with the 6-foot-2-inch, 219-pound Orpik. Just before Orpik buried him, Krug flung the puck on goal. Vokoun burped out a net-front rebound. Nathan Horton tapped in an easy goal at 14:37 to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
“I felt him coming,” said Krug. “I knew he was coming out of the box. I kind of shifted over toward the middle. A heady player like Letang’s going to try to hit him coming out of the box. I got lucky and knocked one down. I felt him coming and just tried to throw it toward the net.”
Bartkowski sits again
Matt Bartkowski was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Andrew Ference skated on the second pairing with Johnny Boychuk.
Bartkowski, a native of nearby Mount Lebanon, Pa., was looking forward to postseason participation in his hometown. Instead, Bartkowski has been staying on late following morning skates and dressing for an optional off-day practice between games.
It is not the scenario Bartkowski envisioned. He submitted six straight dependable performances, including all five in the second round against the Rangers. But the Ference-for-Bartkowski move worked in Game 1, as Ference assisted on David Krejci’s winning goal in the first period.
“Matt has grown immensely on and off the ice,” Julien said. “His approach right now is that all he wants is for the team to win. If he’s not in, he’s going to be supportive of his teammates. At the same time, he’s going to be ready when his name gets called to play. He’s been great, especially in this unique situation where he’s at home. There’s no doubt it’s got to hurt a little bit. But he’s able to put priorities first.”
Team stays over
The Bruins remained in Pittsburgh after Game 2. They were scheduled to travel to Boston Tuesday morning. They did not intend to practice . . . Rich Peverley won eight of nine faceoffs . . . Zdeno Chara led the Bruins with 24:25 of ice time. It was the second-lowest ice time Chara has seen in the playoffs . . . The Bruins were 2 for 2 on the penalty kill. They are 6 for 6 in the series . . . Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, Aaron Johnson, Kaspars Daugavins, Carl Soderberg, and Jay Pandolfo were the healthy scratches.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.