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Penguins/Bruins Recap: Call it a comeback! Pittsburgh wins 4-3 with four straight goals

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After going down 3-0 and looking shaky, the Pens battle back to a huge 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins

NHL: JAN 19 Bruins at Penguins Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Lineups

The Penguins use a very rare same lineup, same goalie from last game as it’s Matt Murray who gets the opportunity to make his case for more playing time in this one.

First period

The open couldn’t have gone much worse for the Penguins. The Bruins win the opening faceoff cleanly and regroup for a breakout rush that gives a goal in 11 seconds on a 3-on-2 rush where no forward (Jared McCann about three strides behind) tracks back to pick up the far guy in Patrice Bergeron, which seems problematic! 1-0 before anyone even knows what happens.

Bad goes to worse when Murray almost gives the puck away and gifts another goal that turns into a sequence of another 3-on-2 rush that has Anders Bjork blow the puck by Murray to make it 2-0 just 2:02 into the game and it looks like the wheels are about to fall off.

Luckily Murray and the Pens manage to stabilize in the smallest of areas after that point, even though they remain on their heels and playing half-asleep.

“We weren’t ready to play from the drop of the puck,” Mike Sullivan told Brian Boucher of the NBC broadcast during an interview on the bench during a commercial break in the first period. Shots at that point were 13-3 Boston.

About the only positive thing is Patric Hornqvist going to the net, drawing attention, creative post-whistle scrums and obviously trying to inject some energy and some kind of emotion out of his teammates.

The positive doesn’t last long. Jack Johnson scores, but on the wrong goal, as he is wont to do, making a really good redirection on a David Pastrnak centering pass if Johnson played for Boston. Alas, he does not. 3-0 and this stinks.

McCann might have been penalized for his play, as Hornqvist gets elevated to the Crosby line and Sidney Crosby makes a beautiful pass from behind the net to Dominik Simon who one-t’s it past Jarsolav Halak. 3-1 and the Pens are on the board at least.

Oh great, one of the team’s best penalty killers in Teddy Blueger takes a penalty to put Pittsburgh on the PK for the rest of the period, which they’re luckily able to do and not get totally run out of their own building.

Shots after one are 14-6 Boston. Total shot attempts are 31-13 Bruins. Sleepy forwards, defensemen scoring in their own net, poor goaltending, take your pick it’s a bingo of bad play for the Pens early on.

Second period

The Pens keep pushing, Blueger gets out of the box and makes a nice play to win the puck back, then Crosby backs a casual no-look, between the legs pass back for Blueger. Lost in this play is Blueger makes a nice reception off his skate and stickhandles once to open up a lot of space for him to shoot high and lift into the net over Halak. The score is 3-2 a minute in and the boys are starting to buzz a little.

Halak makes a few good saves, and Crosby hits the bar with a shot attempt and then a Dominik exodus starts. First Dominik Kahun leaves the bench early in the period, then later in the second Simon exits the game, dropping the Pens to 10 healthy forwards (two of them being Alex Galchenyuk and Andrew Agozzino who end up with low TOI). But in a pinch and out of necessity, Galchenyuk is promoted to the Crosby-Hornqvist line.

Shots in the second were 11-10 Pens, with a 23-17 Boston overall edge.

Third period

The refs send Kris Letang to the penalty box early on a pretty weak call when Brad Marchand tries to duck under a check then falls ever so dramatically. Luckily, the hockey gods strike back for revenge in the most humorous way possible with Jack Johnson scoring short-side on Jaroslav Halak.

Halak, the Pens’ biggest bugaboo unsolvable goalie. Solved by JJ. What a world!

The game rolls on, and the refs continue to struggle. Crosby had a stick slashed out of his hands last period, no call. Letang blatantly slashes a stick out of a Bruin player’s hands this period, no penalty. Evens out I guess? Two wrongs making a right in NHL logic.

Anyways, play back and forth, Boston is throwing a lot of pucks at Murray and his rebound control isn’t impeccable but he’s accomplishing the main task of keeping the puck out.

Halak though gets victimized. Evgeni Malkin crashes down on an indecisive Charlie McAvoy behind the back of the net and he coughs up the puck. Malkin quickly passes the puck from out behind the net to Bryan Rust who quickly wires is by Halak to give the Pens their first lead of the day at 4-3 and erase the 0-3 hole they dug.

The Pens find a way to hold on and survive this one, taking it in regulation. Very intense game, some poor officiating on both sides, but hey, lots of fun to see the Pens mount such a huge comeback against a quality opponent.

Final thoughts

Murray tightens up. This game was a rare second start in a row for Matt Murray. Had he played well, there probably would have been a third start coming up next game. Is there now? After giving up two goals on the first three shots he saw, the second one being of the stoppable variety, Matt Murray found a way to get the train back on track. It wasn’t pretty at times, but in the last 57+ minutes he only gave up one goal (and that was one directed into the net by a defender). 34 stops on 37 shots looks fine at the end of the day, but much like most of Murray’s season you can see what you want. Was it good? Good enough? It was a win, at least.

Big time players. Crosby’s two assists were of the dazzling variety. Not to be forgotten, Malkin swooped in and helped put his stamp on the game with the eventual game winning goal setup sent over for Rust. It was the kind of star power that Pittsburgh needed after falling into a three goal hole, and they got it.

Injury bug bites, bad day to be a Dominik. Neither of the team’s two Doms (Simon and Kahun) finished the game. That’s very problematic being as both are top-six wingers right now. We’ll see how their status goes with the break right around the corner, but you have to really feel bad for Simon, who scored his second goal in four games today (which, for him, qualifies as a major hot streak). Hopefully nothing too major for either, but the Pens’ weakness right now is top-six wingers. Watching two more leave in this game makes the situation even worse depending on how serious the injuries are.