What we learned from a wild Bruins OT loss in Pittsburgh
Winter storm Grayson brought its ‘bombogenesis” to the Hub of Hockey last week, postponing the Bruins-Panthers contest Thursday night.
And left quite a bit of energy for the Bruins in the last two games before their bye week.
The Bruins turned that “bombo” loose on the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night in a 7-1 thrashing. It marked their biggest goal differential of the season, while keeping them locked into second place in the Atlantic Division with Toronto with four games in hand.
They brought it again Sunday in Pittsburgh, highlighted with a four-goal outburst in the second period, wrapped around a Pittsburgh three-goal first, a Brad Marchand penalty shot with the game on the line with 61 seconds left, and an overtime goal by one of the “best players on the planet.”
If Boston is looking to lock in earlier for a playoff spot, the Penguins were at the other end to avoid a lock-out after back-to-back Cup wins. They entered Sunday a point out of the final wild card in the Eastern Conference after a 4-0 road blanking of the Islanders on Friday.
Rookie Tristan Jarry in the Penguins net with a 7-3-2 record and a 2.17 GAA against Rask, the NHL’s First Star of December and a 5-1 winner over the Islanders on Tuesday.
Here’s what we learned as Boston extended its point streak to 11, but lost an overtime thriller, 6-5.
First-period firepower on display
Both teams picked up where they left off in respective wins.
Ryan Spooner parked in Jarry’s crease for an easy rebound off a Jake DeBrusk right-dasher blast at 1:51; Kevan Miller also assisting.
At 3:53, a 55-footer by Jamie Oleksiak found twine behind Rask to tie the game.
While two Boston power-play opportunities went by the board in the first 20 minutes, the NHL’s best man-advantage did not disappoint. The Pens big-three offensive guns went to work with Phil Kessel knotting his team-leading 18th at 11:04 with assists to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
“His game is getting into form,” NBCSN’s analyst Keith Jones said about Crosby, who had four points in the Isles win, “and that’s not good news for the rest of the NHL.”
At 13:27, Kris Letang replicated the Oleksiak goal from the same spot to put Pittsburgh up, 3-1.
Bergeron hobbled in waning seconds
Letang loaded up another blast from the right point that caught Bergeron, off a five-point night Saturday, inside the left knee with seconds left in the first period. Boston’s assistant captain, noticeably shaken, struggled to get off the ice as the horn sounded. He returned, however, for a regular shift in the second period – making an immediate impact.
Bruins pass Brickley “test” with four-goal outburst in second 20
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 8, 2018
During the intermission, NESN’s Andy Brickley “inside the glass” for NBCSN, said: “This will be a good test for the Bruins who are used to playing with the lead in the recent streak.”
Saturday, the B’s pasted a five-goal first-period on Carolina. Sunday, a close second with a four-goal eruption in the second 20.
Brad Marchand snapped a top-left-dot shot past Jarry off a Bergeron faceoff to cut the deficit to one at 7:18. Noel Acciari deflected a Brandon Carlo shot home to tie the game a minute later with Marchand assisting. David Pastrnak tied Marchand for the team lead in goals with 17 when he beat Jarry unassisted off a Penguins turnover at 12:14 to give Boston a 4-3 lead. David Backes sent Jarry to the showers in favor of Matt Murray at 17:08, also unassisted off a Pens turnover.
“One of the best players on the planet,” analyst Jeremy Roenick said about Malkin during the first intermission. That analysis would come back to haunt the Black and Gold.
With just 3.6 ticks left in the second, Crosby put a pass on a prone Malkin’s tape in the slot 15 feet in front of Rask. A highlight-reel power-play goal resulted when Malkin fired a wrist shot on one knee past Rask.
“We have examples of everything [the Bruins] do well on display,” Jones said during the intermission.
Roenick countered: “When you have Crosby and Malkin, you’re in it all the way.”
Indeed the Penguins were.
Wild finish with Marchand penalty shot denied and Malkin OT winner
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 8, 2018
“Certainly not a goaltenders’ duel,” Brickley said after Riley Sheahan knotted the game at 5-5 on yet another unassisted seeing-eye goal, while the Bruins had but two soft shots on Murray in the first eight minutes.
“The Bruins in their dig-deep mode,” Brickley said.
Not quite deep enough with Pittsburgh outshooting Boston, 17-6, in the final 20 minutes. And Murray making the most important save of the night when an Oleksiak hack on a breaking-in Marchand gave Boston the chance to win it with 61 ticks left with Marchand awarded the penalty shot.
“These two are deadly,” Roenick said postgame about Kessel and Malkin who played give and go with Malkin taking the go to paydirt past Rask at 2:51 of OT.
THE week against Montreal after the bye
The Hub had Jan. 13, 17 and 20 circled last summer when the 2017-18 NHL schedule was announced. Those would be against Montreal — and Claude Julien — with the two bookend dates north of the border.