For now it’s time for the battered and bruised Boston Bruins to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a quick stick salute, and then move on to the next challenge.

The NHL schedule makers handed Boston two different chances to overtake the Penguins for the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference this week with a pair of games against Sid and the Gang at the CONSOL Energy Center.

In both instances the Bruins finished a day late and one goal short with the second defeat ending with a tightly-played 2-1 loss on Sunday afternoon. Granted there were clearly extenuating circumstances for the Black and Gold hockey club. Both times Boston rolled into Pittsburgh facing the Penguins on the second day of back-to-back games, and the weekend tilt was the third game in four days for a busy Bruins team bracing for a barnstorming trip through Canada this week.

So Claude Julien didn’t find much at fault with a Bruins club that simply came up a Marchand nose length short in a postseason-style game against a Pittsburgh team that’s been the class of the East all season. Maybe if they decreed that the winner would receive Calgary Flames winger Jarome Iginla in trade then things would have gone differently.

Then again, maybe not.

“Today to me was like a typical playoff game where I thought we played well and we played hard . . . so did they,” said Julien. “It was a tight game that ended up in a 2-1 hockey game where everybody had a chance to win.