PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins met for the second time in less than a week on Sunday afternoon with both teams wanting to establish their superiority atop the Eastern Conference.
And it was the Penguins who were superior -- at least on Sunday -- as they skated to a 2-1 victory.
Just one point separated the two teams heading into the game. The Penguins came in with 42 total points, good for second place in the Eastern Conference standings. Meanwhile, the Bruins entered play with 41 total points, perched fourth in the Eastern Conference.
In this match-up of beasts of the East, the Penguins continued their winning ways, skating to their ninth consecutive win and playing defense that the Pittsburgh Steelers would be proud of, allowing just five goals in their last five games.
The Penguins got the first tally of the game at the 12:06 mark of the first when Pascal Dupuis dug out the puck from the skates of Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara behind the net, backhanded a pass out to Chris Kunitz, who then threw a backhand pass of his own across the slot to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
Crosby corralled the puck, backed up slightly and wristed the puck past Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask for his 13th of the season.
The Bruins countered less than five minutes later when defenseman Johnny Boychuk took a shot from the right point that hit traffic in the high slot and caromed to the stick of a wide-open Tyler Seguin who promptly wristed the puck into an open net from the bottom of left faceoff circle.
Penguins netminder Tomas Vokoun had positioned himself to stop Boychuk's shot and wasn't able to recover in time to challenge the Seguin shot.
It appeared as though the game would remain knotted at one heading into the second, but with just 32 seconds remaining in the first frame, the Penguins retook the lead when Craig Adams broke down the right wing and fired a slap shot on Rask. Rask sprawled to make an awkward glove save on the shot, but then fell forward after making the save, allowing Joe Vitale to swoop in and wrist the puck over Rask as he as scrambled to get back into position.
The Bruins' best chance to tie the game came with just under seven minutes left in regulation when Seguin attempted a wrap-around shot that eluded Vokoun, but slid right along the goal line without entering the net.
Vokoun made 31 saves in the victory, while Rask made 16 saves in defeat.
Notes: The Penguins have posted a record of 42-26-6 in the 74 games that Evgeni Malkin has missed in his career. ... The Bruins have outshot their opponents in all but seven games this season. ... Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis is tied with Steven Stamkos for the NHL lead in even strength goals with 13. ... The Bruins now are 18-1-0 in games that they have held their opponent to two or fewer goals. ... Scratches for the Penguins were Malkin (upper body), defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and defenseman Simon Despres. Scratched for the Bruins were left wing Lane MacDermid and defenseman Aaron Johnson. ... The Penguins next play on Tuesday night when they host the Washington Capitals. The Bruins will next be in action on Tuesday as well, when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets.