BOSTON - Ex-Penguin Mark Recchi knows Sidney Crosby too well to think that his current slump might be a long-term condition.
"It's just one of those things where he's in a rut right now," Recchi said after tallying his 900th career assist in the Boston Bruins' 3-0 victory over Pittsburgh. "It won't be very long he'll be in it, I know that. He's a great player and when they break out, they can go the opposite way, and everything they touch turns to goals."
Crosby recorded only two shots and was held without a point for the fifth straight game - four was already a career worst - and the Penguins were shut out for the second game in a row. Pittsburgh has not scored in 149 minutes nine seconds and has lost three straight games - all away from home - after opening the season 7-0 on the road.
"We've got to find a way to score some goals," Crosby said. "That's the way it's been going the last week or two for us. It's been a long road trip, longer when you don't win. We've got to find a way to play better."
Tim Thomas stopped 27 shots for his second shutout of the season and the 14th of his career to pass Andy Moog for 10th on the Bruins' list as Boston won consecutive games for the first time all season.
Matt Hunwick backhanded a rebound under the crossbar, then had to wait 77 seconds for a whistle so NHL officials could consult a video replay and give Boston the goal. Daniel Paille scored his first goal with the Bruins, and Patrice Bergeron added a short-handed empty-netter with 3.5 seconds left.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for the Penguins, who are in their longest losing streak of the season and their longest since Dan Bylsma took over as head coach on Feb. 15 and led them to the Stanley Cup championship.
But Stanley Cup playoffs MVP Evgeni Malkin is out with an injury, along with Kris Letang, Sergei Gonchar and Tyler Kennedy. The Penguins also lost former Boston College defenceman Brooks Orpik in the first period to an unspecified injury.
And you don't need to look any farther than that to understand Crosby's scoring slump, Bruins coach Claude Julien said.
"Being honest, it was a lot easier because we didn't have a lot of guys to focus on," he said. "They're the defending Stanley Cup champs, and when they're healthy they have a lot of firepower. It was a lot easier to focus on him, with a lot of the other guys out of their lineup."
Hunwick scored at 18:24 of the second period, but it took a bit longer for the goal to count.
After he beat Fleury, three Bruins began celebrating and the TD Garden foghorn sounded, but the referee waved off the goal. Play continued until the next whistle with 17:07 left on the clock. Referee Bill McCreary went over to talk to the replay official and soon signalled for the goal to count, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead and resetting the clock to the time of the goal.
With 16:26 left in the game, Recchi found Paille alone in the Penguins' zone and he beat Fleury on the stick side to make it 2-0. The Penguins pulled the goalie for an extra attacker with a minute left, then got a two-man skating advantage on a Boston penalty.
But Bergeron bounced a shot from the middle of the Boston zone into the empty net to make it 3-0.
Notes: Bruins Hall of Famer Ray Bourque was in the building to watch his son Christopher, a Penguins forward. ... During a break in the first period, the Bruins honoured arena usher Bill Lynch, who helped wave down a subway train to stop after a woman fell on the tracks over the weekend. ... It was the Bruins' 100th victory over Pittsburgh in 175 meetings. ... The Penguins' next game is at home against New Jersey, which will be trying to improve to 9-0 on the road. ... Pittsburgh was 0 for 2 on the power play, making them scoreless on 23 straight.