Since the start of 2012, the Pittsburgh Penguins have won every regular-season game they've played against the Boston Bruins.
That surely doesn't bother the Bruins considering they won every game in the Eastern Conference finals.
Boston's visit to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night is the rivals' first matchup since that stunning sweep which saw Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask dominate what had been the NHL's top offense.
The Penguins (8-4-0) have won the last six regular-season meetings, including three in 2013 en route to the conference's best record. Having home-ice advantage in the East finals didn't matter because the Bruins dominated the first two games in Pittsburgh, winning by a 9-1 margin, and returned to Boston to see Rask make 53 saves in a double-overtime win before posting a shutout in Game 4.
"He was the difference in the series, there is no question," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said after the sweep.
Bylsma's club averaged a league-best 3.38 goals last season but totaled two in the conference finals against Rask, who currently tops the East with a 1.56 goals-against average. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury is next at 1.79, back as the starter after being benched in the playoffs.
Fleury is 7-2-0 with a 1.78 GAA in his last nine starts versus Boston (7-3-0). He's 5-1 at home this season, surrendering nine goals, but Rask has yielded three goals in three road games and Boston is the East's only team yet to lose one (4-0-0).
Among the many Penguins that Rask held without a point in the playoff series was Jarome Iginla, who left Pittsburgh this offseason to sign with Boston. The former MVP had spurned the Bruins' advances leading up to last season's trade deadline, instead leaving Calgary to join the Penguins.
"Boston and Pitt were the two out of 30 teams that I was down to," Iginla told the Bruins' official website after making his decision in July. "I definitely have respect for both of them and I'm thrilled to be a part of the Boston organization."
Iginla has gotten hot with seven of his eight points this season coming in the last four games, including his first two goals in the last two.
He had three points in the Bruins' latest game, but they had a four-game win streak snapped with a 4-3 loss to New Jersey on Saturday.
All of the Devils' goals came on the power play. Boston had allowed just three power-play goals through its first nine games.
"Sometimes circumstances certainly make it tough and we can look at who we should blame or whether we could have been better there's no doubt, but at the end of the day we have to turn the page and move on here," coach Claude Julien said.
The Penguins are 1 for 18 on the power play in their last four games. They have outshot opponents by a 143-90 margin in that span but were riding a three-game losing streak - their longest since 2011-12 - before winning 3-1 at Carolina on Monday.
"We had some lapses for periods (during the skid) and that hurt us and ended up costing us the game," said Sidney Crosby, who had two assists. "When you do good things, you don't want to spoil it with some errors that were mental errors, and we bounced back here tonight and got a big win."
Crosby's team, though, lost winger Chuck Kobasew to a lower-body injury that will keep him out for at least three weeks. Defenseman Rob Scuderi is out with a broken ankle suffered Saturday at Toronto.
Boston's David Krejci is riding a seven-game point streak, including two goals and five assists in the last four. He had four goals in the East finals.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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