What a night it was at TD Garden.
It is not how you start, but it’s how you finish as the Bruins scored two goals in the last 1:16 of regulation to stun the Penguins 3-2 in front of a sold out crowd. First it was David Krejci tying the game at two which was then followed up by Captain Zdeno Chara, who put the dagger in the Penguins’ hearts with a goal with just 13 seconds left. The goal came off a great pass from Reilly Smith, sending the TD Garden into a frenzy.
Here are the three takeaways from tonight’s win.
Bruins let Penguins get under their skin
After the Bruins let one slip away in Montreal Thursday night, the B’s were looking to get off on the right foot against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but that was not the case Saturday night at TD Garden.
After a questionable hit on Loui Eriksson by Brooks Orpik, things began to go south for the Bruins.
The Black and Gold let the game get away from them which was very uncharacteristic. The Bruins were taking penalty after penalty, and the Penguins took advantage by scoring two power-play goals in the first period (Chris Kunitz-James Neal). The Pens’ outshot the Bruins 13-5 in the first frame. The Bruins did not record a shot on net until Reilly Smith tied the game at one about halfway through the first period.
If that wasn’t enough, Shawn Thornton lost his cool completely after James Neal introduced his knee to the head of Brad Marchand while he was still down. Thornton went after Orpik after the whistle and delivered two blows to the head knocking him out. Orpik left the game on a stretcher and was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion. Orpik was able to fly back to Pittsburgh with the team.
Thornton is usually all business, but he let his emotions take over, something we rarely see.
“I feel awful,” a soft-spoken Thornton said afterwards. “It’s definitely not what I’d want to see, or what anybody would want to see. Obviously I made a mistake. I’m aware of it. It’s hard to say much more than it wasn’t my intention. I feel awful and I’ve felt sick the entire game.”
The Bruins slow start was not ideal after Thursday night’s game in Montreal, but what was more troubling was how the game got away from them in spurts, most surprisingly the chain of events leading to Orpik’s departure on a stretcher. It was a very wild first period where the Bruins did not handle themselves the way they usually do and the officiating did not help letting the game get out of hand at times.
Tuukka stands tall after rocky start
After surrending two first period goals, Tuukka Rask needed to step up his play for the duration of the game, and I don’t think anyone can argue that Rask did exactly that as the Penguins did not light the lamp the rest of the night.
Rask’s biggest saves of the night came while the Penguins held a 2-1 lead late in the third period. Zdeno Chara had hit the post down the other end which led to a Sidney Crosby breakaway thanks to a long rebound. Most nights, it is a goal and it is game over, but not tonight. Rask stoned Crosby on the first try as Crosby could not coral the rebound and stuff it home. After that, the Bruins went on to score two goals and eventually win the game.
The Bruins do not win that game unless Rask makes those stops on Crosby towards the end of regulation. Rask who also made some key saves during the second period finished the night with 28 saves.
“That’s Bruin hockey. I think that’s what we’re known for. When we play our best, we might be down by one goal, but we stick with it and we believe that there’s a chance to come back,” Rask said about the Bruins bouncing back. “Today was a great example. We never gave up. We tightened up after the first period defensively and then we waited for that chance and it came and capitalized on it.”
The Penguins were 13-1-1 when holding a lead heading into the third period.
Captain Clutch once again
If he doesn’t already do enough for his team, Chara played the role of hero Saturday night. What Zdeno Chara does for his team on a nightly basis is amazing to watch, as on this night he helped bring the Bruins all the way back in this one, scoring the game-winning goal with 13 seconds left to send the Pittsburgh Penguins packing.
“We were just fighting for that tying goal and eventually we got it,” Chara said. “Then, we carried that momentum into basically the end of the game and we were able to score a goal with very little time left in the game so it was a good game to win for us.”
Chara was only second to Dennis Seidenberg in ice time tonight. He kept Sidney Crosby in check for most of the game, something he has done to opposing star forwards all season long.
Chara now has seven goals and five assists on the season. He now has two game-winning goals, but again his presence on the ice may be the biggest factor any team in the National Hockey League possesses.
The Bruins will next travel to Toronto, but will be without forward Loui Eriksson who suffered a concussion on the hit by Brooks Orpik, Shawn Thornton who has been suspended indefinitely and Chris Kelly will also be unavailable after he suffered a lower body injury on a slash late in the game.
The Bruins will also be without Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid who are still nursing injuries. It looks like Matt Fraser and Ryan Spooner are on their way to Toronto from the AHL.