Even though their four-game winning streak came to an end, the Pittsburgh Penguins could take solace Tuesday in yet another third-period rally to come away with a point.
But solace can only get you so far against a division rival like the Bruins. The two teams meet again Thursday in Boston in the second game of a back-to-back series after a wild overtime finish in their first affair.
The Penguins entered the third period down 2-0 and helpless on the power play. Seconds after coming up empty during a sixth such chance, Jason Zucker broke through to get the team on the board with 10:13 remaining. Kasperi Kapanen netted the equalizer with 3:16 to go, and it appeared Pittsburgh could come away with its fifth straight comeback victory.
In overtime, the Penguins had two golden opportunities, but Evgeni Malkin couldn’t convert on a breakaway and came up empty as part of a 3-on-0. The Bruins didn’t waste their chance on a 2-on-0, with Craig Smith scoring the game-winner on a give-and-go with David Krejci with 10.9 seconds left in overtime to seal the host’s third straight victory.
“We’ve been trailing a lot of games now,” Kapanen said. “It’s always a good quality for a team to come back in a game and at least get that one point. But for us, we’ve just got to be ready right off the hop.”
Coming away with a point is a big plus for Pittsburgh given it entered the game 0-7-1 in its past eight trips to Boston. And the rally meant even more for the Penguins after defenseman Brian Dumoulin sustained a lower-body injury in the second period and did not return, adding to an already depleted defensive corps.
“It’s tough when you go down that many players at the same position,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “It’s a test of your depth. I think the guys are stepping up.”
The Bruins were also dealt a blow in the contest after winger Jake DeBrusk exited in the first period with a lower-body injury that appeared to occur on a hip check from Sidney Crosby. With star forward David Pastrnak still considered days away from his return from offseason hip surgery, Boston could be forced to bring in reinforcements.
“That’s a discussion we’ll have to have [Wednesday] depending on how Jake feels in the morning,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Boston’s special teams led the way Tuesday night, with Brad Marchand scoring on the shorthand in the first period and Nick Ritchie converting a 5-on-3 in the second. Still, Cassidy lamented the amount of time his team spent on the penalty kill, noting the fatigue that showed in the final period.
Goalie Tuukka Rask appeared injured in allowing Zucker’s goal, as he reached for his hip immediately after the puck went through. But he stayed in the game and finished with 28 saves in coming away with the win.
“He said he was OK,” Cassidy said. “Clearly looked good in overtime. I thought he battled hard tonight. He was excellent.”
-Field Level Media