(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Boston Bruins
Away: Pittsburgh Penguins
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Heinen
Bjork – Coyle – Ritchie
Hughes – Kuraly – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Clifton
Guentzel – Crosby – Simon
Galchenyuk – Malkin – Rust
McCann – Bjugstad – Kahun
Aston-Reese – Blueger – Tanev
Dumoulin – Letang
Pettersson – Schultz
Johnson – Marino
A Pittsburgh Penguins team that just recently got key contributors like Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, and Brian Dumoulin back from injury stood in the way of a potential sixth straight win for the Bruins. Not to mention it was the first time we saw two of the best centers in the game in Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby go head-to-head this season. Bruins-Penguins games are always sure to be a battle.
Bruins 2015 sixth-round pick Cameron Hughes made his NHL debut on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. Hughes had six points in 12 games with the Providence Bruins before being called up.
A whopping 4:44 of consecutive action got this one going in a fast start for both teams. On the next shift, Jake DeBrusk forced a turnover from Kris Letang in the neutral zone and didn’t miss when the impending, unassisted scoring opportunity presented itself. DeBrusk’s third of the year gave the Bruins the first lead of the game with 14:24 to go in the period. It was the second goal in as many games for him.
Things weren’t peachy after that, as David Krejci took the first Bruins penalty of the game for tripping with 10:54 to go. The Penguins had some good looks, but Jaroslav Halak and the Bruins stood tall to kill the penalty. Hughes saw time on the penalty kill right off the bat and made the clearing effort to kill the remainder of it.
One goal wasn’t enough. A net-front chance for David Pastrnak was deflected up high where Brad Marchand batted the puck out of the air and past Matt Murray. Pastrnak’s 15th assist of the season was the primary assist on Marchand’s ninth goal of the season. Zdeno Chara (3) had the secondary assist. 2-0 Bruins with 6:55 to go. The goal extended Marchand’s point streak to 13 games.
Letang went off for slashing with 1:56 to go, giving the Bruins a power play for the rest of the period and then some to start the second period. They didn’t convert, but they held a two-goal lead going into the first intermission. Shots in the period were 10-9 in favor of the Bruins.
Score: 2-0 Boston
Halak kept his stellar play up early in the second period. A nifty passing play from the Penguins sprung Alex Galchenyuk on a breakaway with speed, but Halak robbed him with the sprawling left pad.
It was all Pittsburgh early on. That was until Pastrnak strolled into the offensive zone and buried one past Murray. Pastrnak’s league-leading 14th goal of the season got Murray pulled from the game and was assisted by Marchand (16) and Brandon Carlo (4). Tristian Jarry took the crease in place of Murray with 15:38 to go. 3-0 Bruins.
Pittsburgh responded with one of their own as Dominik Kahun got them on the board, making things interesting just a minute and 13 seconds after the Pastrnak goal. It was 3-1 Bruins with 14:25 to go.
Right around the halfway point of the period, they cut the lead to one as Nick Bjugstad took advantage of a bad defensive change and beat Halak on a quick snap shot. Following the Bjugstad goal, the Penguins were dominating the flow of play and outshooting the Bruins 13-2.
It didn’t stop there for Pittsburgh. Bryan Rust slipped behind the defense and tapped in a cross-crease feed from Malkin to tie the game at three with 4:01 to go. A chance to get back into the game came when John Marino went off for tripping with 2:10 left. Matt Grzelcyk had a golden opportunity blocked by Dumoulin, and Krejci was stuffed on a Net front chance. Marino made up for it by scoring right out of the box to give the Penguins the 4-3 lead with 2.6 seconds left.
A huge response gave Pittsburgh all of the momentum heading into the final frame. The Bruins were outshot 21-6, giving Pittsburgh a 30-16 advantage in shots after two periods. The Bruins got pretty thoroughly dominated and let up four unanswered goals.
Score: 4-3 Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh kept the pressure on early in the third period, holding the Bruins to just one shot through the first six minutes to their five. This was a rare stretch of a game this season in which the Bruins were getting outplayed so badly. Brandon Carlo and Zach Aston-Reese both went off for roughing just inside of the 13-minute mark, creating a two-minute 4-on-4 scenario as a result.
Krejci rung a one-timer off the post shortly before Torey Krug tied the game on a one-timer of his own. Marchand had to battle to hang onto the puck inside the offensive blue line, and did as he found Krug waiting right around the goal line on his off side for the one-timer. Krug’s second goal of the season was assisted by Marchand (17) and Krejci (3).
The Bruins wanted more as a fly pattern play nearly sprung Pastrnak free for his second of the game, but the game remained tied at four as Pastrnak couldn’t corral the puck in time to beat Jarry on the breakaway.
With 8:13 left, DeBrusk was taken down by a high stick from Bjugstad to put the Bruins on the man advantage. With 23 seconds left in it, Charlie McAvoy backchecked with speed, dove to stop a chance from Rust, collided with Halak, and eventually went off the ice bleeding and in pain. Halak made a huge save on the play and was alright after the collision, but McAvoy went down the tunnel for evaluation, sticking the Bruins with five defensemen late in a tie game.
It appeared Pittsburgh might have had the go-ahead goal late on a backhander from Alex Galchenyuk, but the net was off its moorings. Krug went off for facial repairs after the play and eventually to the locker room. The Bruins were down to just four defensemen at this point.
It didn’t matter to Marchand, as his wrist shot ricocheted off the post, off of Jarry’s back and barely past the goal line to give the Bruins the one-goal lead. A review followed and the play was not overturned. With 1:57 remaining, the goal was unassisted and Marchand’s second of the night and tenth of the season. After the fact, Krug returned to the bench and Mike Sullivan pulled Jarry in the final two minutes.
Bergeron capped it off with an empty netter, completing the 6-4 win in a rollercoaster of a game. Krejci (4) and Marchand (18) had the helpers. Marchand had five points (2G, 3A) as the highlight in this one, and Halak got the win, stopping 40 of 44 shots. The final shots were 14-10 in the third period in favor of Pittsburgh, and 44-26 overall. The Bruins are now 11-1-2 and have won six straight games. Next up are the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre tomorrow night at 7:30 PM ET.
Final Score: 6-4 Boston
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