Sunday, the Bruins faced off against Eastern Conference rival Pittsburgh Penguins at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena searching for their first win in three games but despite dominating the second period, they would give up three goals in a span of 3:37 in the third period en route to a 5-1 loss in the Steel City.
“If you look at some of the mistakes we made, it’s a team that just got unraveled in the third period,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “Again, with the opportunities that we had, we don’t capitalize on them. You always give the goaltender on the other side (Matt Murray) credit. He was good tonight but at the same time, if you’re going to win hockey games, you’ve got to find ways to get (shots) through to him. It’s frustrating. There’s a lot of guys that, right now, aren’t giving us enough and this is a team that needs all 20 guys going in order to win. We don’t have enough talent to think that we can get away with a mediocre game, so this is where it’s important for our guys to understand that and it’s important to have 20 guys that want to go. It’s ok to have talent but you’ve got to compete and for others, you’ve got to get involved. You’ve got to be willing to do the things that are not fun to do but are going to help your hockey club and it’s too bad because I think the players we expect a lot of every night are certainly battling every night but we need more than that.”
“When you’ve lost three, now four-in-a-row, we’ve got to find a way to turn this around and start going back to the drawing board with our guys respecting what they need to do and be patient enough to give it time to turn around. We need to do it next game but we need to respect what we’ve done well and when we’re in our game and within our structure we’ve had success but in order to be within the structure, you’ve got to be willing to want to do those things and right now, we don’t have everybody and it just takes one guy not to want to do his job and it throws everybody else off.”
The Penguins line of Sidney Crosby (one goal, two assists) Conor Sheary (two goals, one assist) and Bryan Rust (one goal, two assists) led the way in scoring while Murray stopped 44 Bruins shots to give Pittsburgh its 30th win of the season.
Pittsburgh entered the game on a three-game win streak and controlled the first period. The Pens sent 11 shots at Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask while limiting Boston to three shots until the game took a bit of a twist.
Something you don’t see every day occurred with 6:26 remaining in the period.
The ice along the boards in the Penguins zone needed repairs and it was determined that the repairs would take longer than expected so the teams were sent to their respective dressing rooms while the ice was attended to and resurfaced. The clubs returned to finish the first period, take a one-minute rest, change ends, and begin the second period.
Apparently, that rest was what the doctor ordered for Boston. The Bruins returned to the ice and reeled off nine shots in the final 6:26 of the period and limited Pittsburgh to one shot.
No goals were scored in the period but each team had its chances. Rask and Murray kept it a scoreless game.
While the first period ended on a high note for the Bruins, the second period could not have had a worse start.
Rust put the Penguins on the board just 18 seconds into the period when he finished a two-on-one break with Crosby. After receiving a cross-ice pass from the Pittsburgh captain, Rust put a wrist shot past Rask’s glove hand giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead. It was the 12th goal of the season for Rust. Sheary also assisted on the goal.
Pittsburgh would take a 2-0 lead 9:08 into the period. During a scramble to Rask’s right, Sheary positioned himself to the goaltender’s left. Unwatched by the Bruins defense, Sheary gathered a rebound and put a shot at the net. The puck deflected off of Rask and landed in the net. It was the 16th goal of the year for the Melrose, Massachusetts native. Rust and Crosby garnered the assists.
The game’s second out-of-the-ordinary moment came when Rask had to leave the game to what the Bruins announced as an illness with 8:12 remaining in the period. He was replaced by backup goaltender Zane McIntyre. After the game, Rask said it was a migraine headache.
Boston’s David Krejci cut the lead to 2-1 at 13:49 of the period. Matt Beleskey carried the puck into Pittsburgh territory before stopping just inside the blue line. He sent a pass into the middle of the ice to David Pastrnak who found Krejci entering the zone on the right wing. Pastrnak hit Krejci with a pass and the centerman put a slap shot past Murray’s stick side. It was the 11th goal of the season for Krejci.
Despite Boston getting 22 shots on goal in the period, they could not manage more than Krejci’s goal. Conversely, they held Pittsburgh to 12 shots for the period.
For the Bruins, the third period can best be described as the one when the wheels fell off the bus.
Patric Hornqvist scored his 11th of the year 1:40 into the period when he got behind the Bruins defense and got his stick on former UMass Lowell defenseman Chad Ruhwedel’s shot from the point. Hornqvist stopped the shot then put a backhander past McIntyre’s outstretched left skate into the net to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead. Evgeni Malkin drew an assist by dishing the puck from the corner, back to Ruhwedel.
Sheary struck for his second of the game and 17th on the season only 1:19 later. Crosby skated deep into the Bruins zone along the right boards before curling back and passing to an oncoming Justin Schultz. Schultz’s shot was stopped by McIntyre. Schultz fanned on the rebound but Rust was able to get his stick on the puck and sent it to an uncovered Sheary, who put a wrist shot over a diving McIntyre to increase Pittsburgh’s lead to 4-1.
At the 4:31 mark, Boston’s Matt Beleskey was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking Rust. Six seconds later, Crosby would finish the scoring with his League-leading 28th goal of the year. Crosby won the faceoff to Malkin, positioned at the right point. Malkin’s slap shot sailed wide to the left of McIntyre. The puck rimmed around the boards to Phil Kessel, who found Crosby all alone in front of the Bruins goaltender. Crosby deked to his forehand then sent a backhand shot beyond McIntyre’s glove hand putting the Penguins in the lead, 5-1.
The victory improved the Penguins’ record to 30-11-5. Boston fell to 23-21-6.
“We got away from being on our toes for two shifts and you can’t do that against them,” said Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. “They’re gonna make you pay. We knew they were going to want a better third (period). We have to start (showing) that we want it again, let’s hope. You need that one game to get you back on track and it needs to be the next one. You can’t just be saying the right things or try to say the right things after games. It’s about doing more than saying. We know what’s at stake and I hope we all understand it.”
Next up on the schedule for Boston are the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday (7:00 pm ET; SN, NESN, FS-D, NHL.TV)
Ice Shavings (No pun intended):
- The win gave Pittsburgh a League-best 20-2-2 home record.
- The Penguins have scored 24 goals in their last four games.
- Sidney Crosby’s power play goal moved him into third-place ahead of Jaromir Jagr and Kevin Stevens on the Penguins all-time power play goal list with 111. He trails Evgeni Malkin and Mario Lemieux.
- Conor Sheary has six goals and three assists during a four-game point streak.
- The Penguins improved to 13-0-1 in their last 14 home games.
- Boston is 3-6-2 in its last 11 games.
- During their four-game losing streak, the Bruins have lost two of those games by one goal.
Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.