After playing two poor games the last two times out, the Pittsburgh Penguins were excited to get back out and have a good effort against the Boston Bruins. They got a few breaks along the way, and some great performances from Sidney Crosby (1 goal, 2 assists) and Evgeni Malkin (2 goals, including the game winner) to win in overtime.
Some good luck came in the form of two Boston goals disallowed. The first one seemed clear- Patrice Bergeron knocked the puck out of mid-air over the cross-bar. The second seemed a little more of a gray area, Milan Lucic and Carl Soderberg crashed to the net and the puck ricocheted off Soderberg and in. The refs rules batted in intentionally with a hand/arm, so it did not stand.
What did stand was the performance by the Pens big stars. Crosby opened the scoring from right in front of the net, collecting a puck that Patric Hornqvist kicked over and putting it past Tuukka Rask. The Bruins would charge back in the second period scoring two goals in 28 seconds with Lucic and former Penguin draft picking Joe Morrow getting his first NHL goal.
Malkin would tie the game later in the second on a power play and then the Penguins carried the third period of play by out-shooting Boston 12-4, with neither team scoring a goal. However, on the first shot of the game, with Kris Letang providing a center lane drive, Crosby made a cross-ice pass to Malkin who very quickly one-timed the shot by Rask. Game, set match.
A few more thoughts on the game:
Beau Bennett injury watch, sadly, is back on. Bennett got his legs crumpled on- in a play that could have happened to anyone. Luckily, Bennett returned for the 3rd period but only played four shifts- and the final one lasted just 8 seconds before leaving the game for good. Hopefully it's not too bad, but the bad luck seems like it's continued.
- Splitting up Chris Kunitz and Crosby, seemed to have worked, at least for one night. Hornqvist back with Crosby represented a buzz-saw of activity and seemed to bring out the best in Sid for the first time in a few games.
- Hits were 31 a piece. 21 total blocked shots in the game, it was definitely a black and blue type of game between two physical things.
- Career win #300 for Marc-Andre Fleury. He earned it too with several important saves, that came in quick succession by Boston.
- As @GoPens remarked to me at our watch party- how fortunate were the Pens that it was Dennis Seidenberg in front of the net when Crosby scored the first goal and not Zdeno Chara (who missed the game with an injury).
- Speaking of injuries, Bruins mainstay 4th liners like Gregory Campbell (a heroic 17:26 played, and he didn't even catch any Malkin shots to the shin) and Daniel Paille (15:51) had to play third line roles tonight. With the Pens injuries of the past, no one will feel sorry for them, but interesting to see their depth pushed.
- Little quirk but a crazy one- the Pens only had their 4 regular centers take faceoffs. The Bruins had 7 different players, by virtue of some getting kicked out of the circle.
- One shift for Craig Adams in the 3rd period. Short bench there late for the Pens in a tie game the whole late part of the game.
- Interesting to see on a 3v4, the Pens chose to deploy Christian Ehrhoff and Rob Scuderi with Brandon Sutter as the three players. Usually teams would use 2 forwards and one defenseman, especially in case of a forward getting thrown out of the circle.
- Pens power play got 3 cracks at it, and scored an important goal. On a couple of Boston line changes, there was questionable too many men close calls- including one that got rung up on. Nice to see a few chances for Pittsburgh and get some good puck movement.
It's a holiday week but there's no vacation for the Pens, they're back at it Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.