BY JIMMY GOLEN
BOSTON (AP) — David Krejci and his new linemate have taken no time at all to find a rhythm.
The Bruins center capitalized on his pairing with trade deadline acquisition Rick Nash to record his first hat trick in four years, and Boston tallied its biggest offensive output since 2012 with an 8-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
“It’s been a good marriage so far,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team has won two straight since adding four players leading up to Monday’s deadline.
The biggest was Nash, a six-time All-Star who has two goals and an assist in two games for Boston — including one of each against the defending Stanley Cup champions on Thursday.
“I’m obviously happy to be on his line,” said Krejci, who has four hat tricks in the regular season and two more in the playoffs. “He’s a world-class player, and he’s proven it the last couple of games. I know it’s not easy, but they fit in really well.”
One night after the Boston Celtics posted a season-high 134 points in the same building, the Bruins scored their most goals of the year. David Pastrnak had two goals and an assist for Boston, which fell behind 35 seconds into the game but led 5-3 by the end of the first.
“That first period, I thought we were playing with white pucks,” said Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who stopped 22 shots. “The only time I saw the puck was when I dug it out of the net.”
Pittsburgh’s Ollie Matta scored in the opening minute, but from there on it was mostly Bruins. Boston led 2-1 before the three-minute mark, 3-1 after six minutes and 5-2 with just under four minutes to play in the first before Riley Sheahan scored with 4 seconds to play in the period.
The Bruins added three in the second — two on the power play from Krejci, giving him a hat trick with 25:27 still to play — and one from Pastrnak.
Matta also scored with 15 minutes left to make it 8-4. Ex-Bruin Phil Kessel scored the other goal for the Penguins, who lost their third in a row.
Casey DeSmith stopped just two shots he faced in 5:27 before he was replaced, trailing 3-1. Tristan Jarry made 28 saves the rest of the way.
“These are two good-character guys. They are good people and I know they will bounce back,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of his goalies. “They’ve been very good for us and so we’re just going to have to stay with it here.”
Boston acquired Nash, Nick Holden and Tommy Wingels at the trade deadline and signed Brian Gionta, who captained Team USA at the Olympics. Gionta had two assists and Holden had one; Wingels had a goal and an assist on Tuesday night in his Bruins debut.
“The group that’s here, the leadership group, makes things easy for the guys coming in,” said Gionta, who played at Boston College. “We felt right at home right away.”
David Backes and Torey Krug also scored for the Bruins, who haven’t lost in regulation to the Penguins at home in eight games since 2013.
NOTES: Gionta, who made his season debut after playing in the Olympics, assisted on Boston’s fourth goal in the first period for his 300th NHL assist. … Evgeni Malkin, the No. 2 scorer in the NHL, did not have a point and registered only two shots in the game. Sidney Crosby had four shots and also did not register a point or assist. … Zdeno Chara snapped a six-game scoreless streak with a first-period assist. … The Bruins were without Patrice Bergeron, who will miss at least two weeks with a broken bone in his foot. … DeSmith, a New Hampshire native, was playing in his first career game against the Bruins.
Penguins: Host the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Bruins: Host Montreal on Saturday.
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