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Recap: Pens give up a touchdown in TD Garden, lose 7-5

Playing in Boston hasn’t gone well for the Penguins, and they suffer a 7-5 loss to end their five game winning streak

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Boston Bruins David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports


A rare treat for the Penguins, the same lineups, lines and goalie as the last game are used again this afternoon.

First period

The first period feels a lot like an extension of Thursday night’s game. Shots are low (9-6 Pittsburgh) and the Pens also score first again. Just 3:24 in, Mark Jankowski wins an offensive zone faceoff and Mike Matheson shoots from the point that Jankowski tips and goalie Jaroslav Halak has no chance on it. 1-0 Pens.

It seemed like everything was going the Pens way again in the first.

Second period

And then, they dropped the puck on the second. Just 11 seconds in, the Bruins score. Brian Dumoulin and Craig Smith are battling behind the net and Sidney Crosby tries to come in and help with a clearing. Unfortunately, he clears it directly to Patrice Bergeron’s stick and the other captain quickly fires it in the net in a bit of a broken play. 1-1 game.

Just 34 second later, Boston strikes again to take the lead. Looks like another bit of a breakdown, and this time it’s David Pastrnak being left all alone in front of the net. Turns out that’s not a good idea! Pasta has plenty of time and space to bury his 15th goal of the season on the rebound.

The Pens settle down though and tie the score just two minutes later. Crosby wins the o-zone draw to Brian Dumoulin, Dumoulin gets the puck back to Crosby who circles the net and passes back for Jake Guentzel. Guentzel’s quick release beats Halak and it’s 2-2 just 2:45 into the period.

The Pens are able to temporarily re-take the lead on the power play. With Charlie MacAvoy in the box for closing his hand on the puck, the Pens’ top group strikes quickly on the rush, with a pair of nice backhand passes from Crosby to Guentzel and Guentzel to Jared McCann and McCann has a lot of open net on this one. 3-2 Pittsburgh.

The last five minute of the period resemble the first minute, which is very bad for the Pens. First up, it’s Brad Marchand to tie the game at 3. With the Pittsburgh fourth line stuck on the ice with the Bruins’ top line (another unfortunate happenstance!) the Pens can only watch as Matt Grzelcyk literally skates circles around them in the zone. Grzelcyk throws a pass to Marchand, it looks like it might have deflected off someone, but some luck has it eventually get to Marchand who wheels enough angle to score.

Then with Evan Rodrigues in the penalty box, the Bruins power play strikes. Marchand makes a really nice pass through a lane where any one of three Pens player sticks could be. None are there, so it makes for an easy tap in for David Krejci for only his second goal of the season.

The Pens really need to escape the period here only down one goal with the wheels falling off a bit, and they can’t. Brian Dumoulin ices the puck and Boston scores on an o-zone draw. It’s Marchand. Again. He gets a pass from the point right in the slot and similar to his earlier goal this period doesn’t make any mistakes with a hard shot to the back of the net. 5-3 Bruins with just 20 seconds left.

Luckily for the Pens, the final buzzer for the period goes off to give them a reprieve and break Boston’s momentum. But the Bruins light the lamp five (5!) times in the middle frame, and take a 5-3 edge to the second intermission.

Third period

The yin and yang of Cody Ceci was on display early in the third. First, Ceci centered a pass in a play that developed too slowly and was intercepted by Pastrnak who was off on a breakaway. DeSmith saved the day — and almost certainly extended the competitive portion of this game — with a save.

Then, Ceci strikes for his third goal of the season, shooting a high, hard shot short-side on Halak, who had to deal with a pass threat on the doorstep that Ceci looked off. Makes the game down to a 5-4 Bruins lead with over 15 minutes left.

The Pens get a great scoring chance with Guentzel in front of the net, but Halak stops him. And then Boston makes it 6-4. Tough read by Matheson to not play the puck and get dispossessed, springing the Bruins on a 2-on-1. Ceci can’t stop a great saucer pass from Nick Ritchie that finds its target of David Pastrnak. Pasta shoots quickly for his second goal of the game.

The Pens pull DeSmith with two minutes left. Pasta strips Kris Letang of the puck, Letang has no choice but to hook him to prevent a goal and goes to the box with 2:11 left. Pittsburgh is lucky that Pasta wasn’t awarded an automatic goal given he had a free path to the net but the decision is for the minor penalty.

But the Pens are able to score! Crosby gains the zone and it looks like he slides a pass on the ice for Guentzel. Guentzel doesn’t look like he touched the puck and somehow it just continued to slide right through Halak. 6-5 game with 1:15 left.

On the ensuing faceoff, Bergeron high-sticks (really butt-ends) Crosby in the circle. The called is made as a double minor. But the Pens can’t take advantage on the 5v4 (no goalie) and Marchand collects a hat trick.


Some thoughts

  • The passing on the Pens power play for the McCann goal was a thing of beauty. In just six seconds all five players on the ice (Kris Letang, Bryan Rust, Crosby, Guentzel, McCann) and they went the entire length of the ice to the back of the net. That’s tough to defend and really pretty to watch when it’s going so nicely.
  • Counting Thursday’s game and today’s first period, the Pens were putting on a clinic against the Bruins as far as defensive play. Shots were suppressed to a high degree. Scoring chances were even lesser. Boston was frustrated and couldn’t figure it out. Well, they figured it out in the second. Players like Pastrnak (2G+1A) and Marchand (3G+1A) and Bergeron (1G+1A) are just not going to stay quiet for long. Tough to beat a team when their top three players generate six goals.
  • Some ugly numbers: this was the first time the Pens have given up seven goals against all season. DeSmith’s 6 goals allowed tied a career high for him.
  • But for giving up six goals, there wasn’t too much DeSmith could do on most of them. A few broken plays leading to Marchand and Pastrnak and Bergeron ripping shots from in front is not going to end well for the goalie.
  • Uncharacteristically bad game for Dumoulin. Kinda got bumped off the puck on the first goal against by Smith. Then iced the puck that gave Boston a late o-zone faceoff that they capitalized on. Little type of mistakes like that which he doesn’t usually make were ending up in the net. Everyone has a bad day now and again, even Dumo. (His blueline buddies certainly had their share of mistakes and were on ice for a ton of goals against too).
  • It’s still pretty stunning that after the Pens limited the Pens to one goal in the last four periods....Then give up five goals on 11 shots in the second. Crazy how quickly a game can turn like that, and it didn’t take much confidence for the big Boston playmakers to wake up and start scoring fast and furiously.
  • Looks like another good time for a two day break. Sucks that the Pens can’t take a six game winning streak into next week, but ya can’t win ‘em all. And we’ll be two days closer to seeing Evgeni Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen and Teddy Blueger back.

The Pens stay on the road, they’ll be heading to Manhattan to see the Rangers starting on Tuesday as the season grinds along.