PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jake Guentzel tipped in Kris Letang’s shot midway through the third period to fend off a Boston rally, and Pittsburgh goaltender Casey DeSmith made it stand up as the Penguins beat the Bruins 5-3 on Friday night.
Boston’s Chris Wagner and David Krejci scored in a 54-second span of the third to erase a two-goal deficit but Guentzel responded by redirecting Letang’s drive from the point by Jaroslav Halak with 9:13 left to put Pittsburgh ahead to stay.
DeSmth did the rest, finishing with a career-high 48 saves as the Penguins ended Boston’s three-game winning streak. Zach Aston-Reese had a short-handed goal and an empty-netter. Derek Grant and Phil Kessel also scored for Pittsburgh.
Brandon Carlo scored for the first time in 115 games for Boston and Halak stopped 24 shots but the Bruins had trouble with DeSmith, who has served as Pittsburgh’s No. 1 goalie while two-time Stanley Cup winner Matt Murray recovers from a lower-body injury that’s sidelined him for the better part of a month.
The team activated Murray on Wednesday, but DeSmith started against Boston anyway. He responded with a spectacular effort, keeping the Penguins in it despite some occasionally shoddy play in front of him. His flashiest save came in the first. DeSmith was sliding to his left when Brad Marchand picked up a bouncing puck and moved to DeSmith’s right. The goaltender reached back with his glove and plucked it out of midair to keep the game scoreless.
Grant gave the Penguins the lead a short time later. Matt Cullen worked the puck out of the corner and sent it to Grant, who walked in on Halak and slipped the puck by Halak’s stick for his second goal of the season 17:48 into the first.
Kessel, playing in his 277th consecutive game with the Penguins — the fourth-longest streak in franchise history — and 723rd straight overall, doubled Pittsburgh’s advantage 1:56 into the second period. Kessel ran a perfect give-and-go with linemate Evgeni Malkin, flicking a pass to Malkin at the top of the Boston zone and then darting to the net. Malkin faked a slap shot and instead fed a streaking Kessel, who buried it past Halak.
The Bruins responded by pressing Smith, who eventually relented when Carlo fired a laser from the top of the right circle 11:53 into the second for just the seventh goal of his career and first since March 4, 2017, against New Jersey. Boston, helped by two power plays, continued to keep the heat on before Aston-Reese restored Pittsburgh’s two-goal lead with a short-handed marker with 58 seconds left in the second, the first goal by the Penguins while down a man since Feb. 9 against Dallas, a span of 57 games.
Boston made Pittsburgh’s comfortable lead vanish quickly in the third. Wagner ripped a shot over DeSmith’s glove from the left circle 7:08 in to get the Bruins within a goal and Krejci swooped in after David Pastrnak’s breakaway shot smacked off the crossbar to tie it.
No matter, Guentzel stuck his stick out on Letang’s drive from the point and puck squirted through Halak’s legs.
NOTES: Letang left late in the third period favoring his left leg and did not return. … If Kessel stays healthy, he could break Craig Adams’ club record of 319 straight games played near the end of the regular season. … The Bruins scratched forwards Gemel Smith and Jake Debrusk and D Jeremy Lauzon. Pittsburgh scratched Ds Chad Ruhwedel and Juuso Riikola and forward Jean-Sebastien Dea. … The Bruins were 0 for 2 on the power play. The Penguins were 0 for 1.
Boston: Welcomes the Sabres on Sunday. The Bruins took the first meeting 4-0 in Buffalo on Oct. 4.
Penguins: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.