After dropping a tough rematch to the Blue Jackets on Saturday night, the Pens took I-70 back home for a match-up against the Boston Bruins. Going into the game, Pittsburgh didn’t seem to have much going for them- Murray was playing on consecutive nights, Halak was starting in goal, the Bruins had a 4-game win streak in Pittsburgh, Letang was still out, Pierre was within arms reach of several local children, and Boston hadn’t lost in regulation since a week before the All-Star game…over seven weeks earlier. 19-games straight (15-0-4). The last time the Bruins failed to earn a point, Derick Brassard was still a Penguin, Michael Jackson was still a hero, Luke Perry was still alive, and Jussie Smollett was still an actor. Life comes at you fast.
First Period: The game started out with the Pens actually looking like a team that wants to make the playoffs. It only took a minute and a half for
Pittsburgh blawg hero, Lee Stempniak, to cough up a zone clearance to Bjugstad. He tried to get Horny in the crease…it worked.
Only about a minute later, the Pens would head to the powerplay as the Parade of Penalties began with a Boston “too much man” call. Nothing doing on the first man advantage….or the second, as Geno and Company forced passes into skates and sticks over and over again.
13 minutes in, Justin Schultz flipped a rolling puck into the stands and headed into the box. On the penalty kill, Jared McCann made a slick play and barreled down toward Halak on a breakaway. If you have heart issues or are an expectant mother, now would be a good time to look away.
For how bad the Pens are at giving up shorties (14), the Bruins aren’t much better (12). This was the Pens 10th SHG for, which is 3rd in the league.
The rest of the period saw 3 more calls, including the Evgeni Malkin Stupid Penalty of the Game™, but was otherwise completely dominated by the Penguins. Unfortunately, they couldn’t bury another one before the horn and the Bruins had 17 minutes to get their act together only down by 2.
Second Period: The Bruins found their groove and were rewarded with a man advantage after a Trotman “slash”. Halfway through the kill, Krejci was able to corral a loose puck after a scrum and sent it past a down-and-out Murray to make it a one-shot game.
The ice seemed to un-tilt and it was the Pens’ turn to head to the powerplay for the 5th time. Midway through the man advantage, Chara, realizing the Penguins generously hand out shorthanded goals like Halloween candy, decided to join his 2 forwards on the attack. 4 players on the pk – 3 trapped in the offensive zone + a centering pass turnover = a very rare powerplay 2 on 1. Add Sid and Jake to the equation and the math really works out.
Incredible “hockey IQ” by Jake to not only pull McAvoy away from Sid with a center drive, but position himself on the right side of Halak to make him move hard to the opposite post so he could shoot far-side. The finish is pure skill. What a player. Though Guentzel scored the goal, that perfect pass through two defensemen is a work of art. If it were any other player making that dish, that would be the highlight, but we’ve become numb to seeing Sid doing Sid things. Seriously, watch that pass again. Crosby knew exactly what Jake wanted to do.
The late tally by Snek gave the Pens a 2-goal lead and some confidence heading into the intermission.
Third Period: Before the puck dropped, NBCSN mentioned how the Bruins scored 2 goals in the last 37 seconds last week to beat the Florida Panthers. When you’re on a streak like that, those things seem to happen, and the gang would need to play a sold period to earn 2 badly-needed points.
The Penguins continued playing solid team defense throughout the third, though Murray was required to make a few timely stops, including this ridiculous 1970’s-esque kick save (and a beauty).
On the other side of the ice, the Pens were buzzing, as Sid rang one off the pipe and Geno was stopped by Halak’s left shoulder after an absolutely ridiculous move to get around the Boston defense. Malkin slammed his stick into the glass in the corner and nearly TKO’d Pee-air behind the bench as he came off the ice.
With only a few minutes left, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy pulled his netminder and some of that late game magic showed up again.
Visions of last week’s game against the Cats undoubtedly circled the heads of the visiting Bruins team. Ironically, Jared McCann was there to remind them that WE are not the f*#king Panthers.
I will make no mention of the 2 missed empty net opportunities right before this. Yikes.
- Matthew Murray. That is all.
- Johnson was fantastic. He was great in the corners and disrupted Boston zone entries all night. If he can get the offense going even just a little, someone will need to tell me the best way to cook crow.
- ZAR left the game in the 2nd with some sort of injury. You feeling any better, Rusty?
- Up only one against a team with a 19-game point streak and would you believe Erik Gudbranson was on the ice to close it out?
- Jared McCann does so many little things well and will have a great future in Pittsburgh….ON THE FIRST LINE.
- Typically, the Pens only end the opponent’s losing streaks. It was nice to see a winning streak snapped, for once.
- Caps on Tuesday. Get your riot gear.