Recaps: Game 27 – Penguins vs. Bruins

Brandon Sutter fights Andrew Ference for puck possession. Sutter would score both the game-tying and game-winning goal. (Courtesy of Getty Images.)

It was a hockey night in Pittsburgh this evening as the black and gold faced off against the black and yellow in an Eastern Conference showdown as the Penguins welcomed the Boston Bruins to the Consol Energy Center for the first time this season. Sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference standings with 37 points heading into the game, the Bruins were riding high following a shootout win Monday night against the Ottawa Senators after falling behind by two goals early on. For their part, the Penguins enjoyed a day’s rest between their 6-1 victory Sunday against the New York Islanders and tonight’s contest. Having passed the halfway point of the season, both teams were looking to increase their respective division leads while adding to their points tally as the race to the playoffs heats up.

The first period, unfortunately for the Penguins, was all Boston.  With three minutes off the clock, the Penguins were whistled for a too many men, Joe Vitale going to the box to serve the minor. This opened up the opportunity for Boston to pull ahead by one, courtesy of Zdeno Chara.  Clipping a one-timer, Chara’s shot made its way through traffic and passed Marc-Andre Fleury for the goal.  Both teams would be held to only two shots through the first half of the period. Before the end of the first twenty, however, Tyler Seguin would increase the Bruins lead by two, roofing the puck over Fleury.  James Neal came close to getting Pittsburgh on the board but couldn’t lift the puck high enough to beat a sprawling Anton Khudobin. With 1:25 left in the period, Boston’s Andrew Ferrence earned himself a two minute break with a delay of a game penalty, leaving the Bruins down a man for the remainder of the frame. Pittsburgh couldn’t capitalize before the horn, ensuring that they’d open the second period up a man for thirty-five seconds. Despite being down by two, Pittsburgh outshot Boston 11 to 5 through the first twenty minutes of play.

The Penguins couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage; the Bruin’s successfully killing the remainder of Ferrence’s penalty. With seven minutes off the lock, Brad Marchand was called for a trip, sending Pittsburgh to their second power play of the night but the effort would prove fruitless and halfway through the second, Boston maintained their 2-0 lead. It would stay that way through the second half of the second period; neither team banking a goal through the middle frame. After forty, Pittsburgh continued to outhit and outshoot Boston.

Pittsburgh would head to their third power play with just under three minutes on the clock when Patrice Bergeron was sent to the box for a trip against Sidney Crosby. With less than a minute gone off that minor, Gregory Campbell was called a hi-stick against Chris Kunitz, giving the Penguins a 5-on-3 opportunity.  They couldn’t capitalize on the two-man advantage and, in turn, Kunitz would end up sending the teams to four-on-four hockey with 0:16 on the penalty left to Campbell when he was called for a trip. When all was said and done, the score would remain the same. With just over six minutes left on the clock, a Pittsburgh goal courtesy of Chris Kunitz effectively ended the Bruins shutout bid for the evening. Beating Khudobin with a one-timer, Kunitz’s 18th of the season appeared to breathe some life into the team. Barely fifty seconds later, Brandon Sutter’s seventh of the season tied it up. Beau Bennett would start the play before dishing the pass off to James Neal who slid it on to Sutter who beat Khudobin with a shot from the far circle.  And he wasn’t done! With just over two minutes left in regulation, Sutter’s second goal from the far circle on the left wing side gave Pittsburgh their first lead of the night. With one minute left in play, Boston pulled their net-minder, but to absolutely no avail! Pittsburgh would sneak away with the victory, scoring three unanswered goals in the final seven minutes of play to take the game 3-2. (Comeback Kids! Please don’t make this a habit.)

Kris Letang led all skaters with 27:49 of ice time followed by Paul Martin with 24:22. Letang recorded 8 shots on goal while Pascal Dupuis had 5. In total, Pittsburgh sent 34 toward Boston’s net-minder while Marc-Andre Fleury faced 16.  With two goals, Brandon Sutter enjoyed a two point night while James Neal and Chris Kunitz each added another point to their streaks.

The Penguins continue to be without forward Evgeni Malkin. Malkin was injured Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. An upper body injury to what is believed to be his shoulder will keep the start center out for at least one to two weeks, as per head coach Dan Bylsma.

Pittsburgh will hit the road again, heading back to Toronto for the second time in a week to battle the Leafs’. Game time is 7:00pm.