Last spring, the Penguins were on a roll in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They battled past a feisty New York Islanders team, then ran over the Ottawa Senators. Then in four games, there was a complete reversal of fortune when they faced the Boston Bruins. The Pens’ season was over, leaving a multitude of questions. Last night, they had a chance to begin exorcising that demon. Here’s how it went:

EVEN-STRENGTH OFFENSE: A
They were very strong in the first 40 minutes, but they finally broke through in the 3rd with two goals. Getting to Tuukka Rask at even strength has been difficult for any team this year, so getting two behind him was huge.

EVEN-STRENGTH DEFENSE: B
They gave up a couple of tough goals in the game, but they were very strong through most of the game. The goals came at the beginning and end of the 3rd, which are not the most ideal times to let one in. But it didn’t cost them the game, and they were good goals.

POWER PLAY: A
They got the first goal of the game and broke the scoreless tie. They only had two chances to work in a tight-checking game where the refs let them play. 50 percent efficiency in a game against one of the best teams in the East is one way to help you win.

PENALTY KILL: A
They only had to kill one penalty and they did so. Boston was tough on the their power play, but the Pens stood tall and kept them off the board.

GOALTENDING: A
Marc-Andre Fleury was very strong. He made several great saves, including one in the final seconds that preserved the win. Both goals were legitimate goals – a deflection goal and a Jarome Iginla bullet from the high slot. Can’t fault him for either. He made the saves that they needed him to.

FINAL GRADE: A
This was a playoff game atmosphere. This was Pittsburgh’s chance at a slight amount of redemption. And they brought one of their best, toughest efforts of the year. They beat a very good Boston team and a goalie that was very tough for them to beat.

AND FOR THE REST…

EVEGENI MALKIN: B+
He definitely brought his A-caliber game last night. He had several drives to the net in the first, and set up both Jayson Megna and Jussi Jokinen for point-blank chances. However, Tuukka Rask came up big against him all night. If the Geno from last night shows up every night, the league will need to be on notice.

BRANDON SUTTER: A
His game has been excellent this year. He’s been the best defensive forward on the team, he’s been solid in faceoffs and has done all the little things you have to do when you don’t have the puck. But when he plays the Bruins, his inner sniper comes out. He was one of the only two Penguins to score in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. It’s not surprise he’d do it here.

JAROME IGINLA: D
He still has that shot, but he was hardly noticeable the entire evening and actually missed an open net prior to that goal. And while the goal was a great shot, it didn’t require much effort or work on his part. He definitely looks like the same player that seemed to diminish as the playoffs went on.

BRAD MARCHAND: U
The “U” is for “unlikeable.” Because honestly, how unlikeable is this guy? I’m sure they love him in Boston, but he is one of those guys you just can’t stand if you are a fan anywhere else. It was excellent to see him take that penalty on the Kris Letang embellishment call.

ROBERT BORTUZZO: A
He played a great game. He was physical, boxed guys out all night in front of Fleury all night and had a great fight. He has the size factor that no one else on the team can boast at this point.

PHYSICAL PLAY: A
The Penguins played an extremely physical game without towing the line and getting called. It was a hard-fought game, where every inch of ice was contested. Can’t single out any one player – the hits came up and down the lineup.

LUDICROUS CALL OF THE NIGHT
Kris Letang made a play on the puck coming into the Boston zone on the Penguins’ second power play of the game. Brad Marchand stuck out his hip to make contact with Letang, who flipped over Marchand. Letang got right up and got back into the play. This was apparently an embellishment. Truly, Marchand’s hit wasn’t even something you’d call a penalty on in general, so to assume Letang would flip himself intentionally seems a bit of a stretch.