The house of horrors for the Penguins is also known as TD Garden Arena in Boston. Pittsburgh entered Tuesday night’s game with just one win in their last 12 tries in the home of the Bruins, but they bounced back from a slow start to earn a victory coming out of the All-Star break.
But it didn’t take long for it to go off the rails for the visitors. Radim Zohorna took a tripping penalty just 1:40 in and 21 seconds later the Bruins struck on the power play. After a failed John Marino clear, the puck got to Taylor Hall with the Pens’ PK out of sorts. Hall passed to his left for the dangerous David Pastrnak to hammer it home past Tristan Jarry.
Pastrnak would strike again before the end of the first when the play went the other way after Kris Letang flubbed a shot attempt that led to a 3-on-1 Bruins rush. Mike Matheson took himself out of the play with a slide, leaving Jarry to fend for himself with Hall’s shot. Jarry stopped that, but Pasta was all by himself and able to make a skilled play to bat the rebound out of the air and into the net and advance the score to 2-0.
The game would turn in the second period, with the Penguins waking up and taking control. It was Matheson breaking up a Boston breakout, and Brock McGinn finding Danton Heinen all alone. The former Bruin deked to his backhand and tucked the puck past goalie Jeremy Swayman to make it 2-1.
DANTON HEINEN IS BACK, BABY! pic.twitter.com/JOznXOEN81— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 9, 2022
Not content with just scoring one, Heinen quickly struck again for a second tally just 28 seconds after his first goal of the night. This time the Pens worked the puck low to high and back down and Heinen just flipped a shot from a bad angle that was high and hard enough to elude Swayman and tie the game.
With the Pens having renewed energy and confidence from climbing out of the hole, they turned to their power play to take the lead. Jake Guentzel set up Bryan Rust for what should have been a goal, but Rust shot wide of the open net. Not panicking, Rust simply collected the loose puck, circled the net and hit Sidney Crosby in front. The captain finished the job, firing in goal No. 499 of his career to give the Pens a 3-2 lead.
Fun fact: No active player in the NHL has more points against Boston than Sidney Crosby. pic.twitter.com/WLZC7QK4Mc— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 9, 2022
Rust didn’t miss a second wide open net, as he finished off an empty netter to make it 4-2 Pens.
That didn’t end the drama, the Bruins pushed for more goals in desperation with Brad Marchand doing Brad Marchand things after the whistle and trying to attack Jarry. But the lash out was too late and couldn’t stop the Penguins from getting out of dodge with the rare win in Beantown.
Some closing thoughts
- The Pens looked to have dodged a bullet when Rust took a big hit and temporarily left the game, but was able to return fairly quickly in the second period. It was a big open ice collision that wasn’t that dis-similar from a hit he absorbed against New Jersey and ended up missing some time.
- Nice to see Heinen bounce back after being hurt prior to the All-Star break. The Pens have badly needed someone other than the Rust/Guentzel/Crosby/Malkin contingent to score, and finally got it.
- And Heinen got on the board twice against his former team, in the first time he has played against them (since his next team, Anaheim, doesn’t play the East much). It’s just anecdotal based on seeing the Sheary’s and Sprong’s of the world come back to haunt the Pens, but you just gotta bet that players going against their former teams score more than their typical career average, huh?
- Crosby is one of the best faceoff takers in the league, but the one guy who always has his number is Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron, who is a perennial Selke finalist, as a right handed draw just matches Sid so well. Crosby was 7 for 19 (36%) before Bergeron got hurt, the Boston captain was 14 for 18 (78%) on the night, with a lot of overlap there. That’s always a matchup Bergeron wins, and tonight was no different.
- Crosby almost had 500 on a rush attempt, but his shot hit the knob of the goalie’s stick and then the iron.
- Huge night for Crosby in Malkin’s COVID absence: team-high five SOG, eight total shot attempts, a pair of hits, a takeaway and blocked shot in a heaping helping of 22:27 of ice time on the night for No. 87.
- At first it looked like Jarry was fighting the puck and scrambling a bit, but he definitely settled in and did what it took to give his team a chance, as he has so many times this season. At the end of the night when the dust settled it was a 43 save on 45 shot effort for Jarry, including several big stops down the stretch to preserve the win. Another great game as the miles, minutes and rubber continues to add up for the starting netminder.
After a sluggish first, the Pens found new life when Heinen got his two quick goals in the turning point of the game. Fittingly, the power play took it from there and put the eventual winner on the board. Pittsburgh heads up north to Ottawa next, who just pulled out a fairly surprising 4-3 regulation win over Carolina in a result tonight. That will help the Pens in the standings, but also serves as a reminder that the pesky Sens team will be no pushover on Thursday night.