Your Boston Bruins traveled to The Iron City tonight to take on the Penguins on the second leg of a 4 game road trip. At the end of 60 the B’s had battled all the way back for the W, lost a defenseman, saw a goalie pulled (and then put back in), witnessed a first NHL goal, saw a goal wiped off the board and picked up 2 points in a wild one at the PPG Paints Arena.
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No matter how good or how bad either of these teams are, it always seems to be a battle. They play similar styles, they are both built strong down the middle and both teams have an aging core that’s back at it to make another run. For those of you that remember the heydays of the Mario-led Pens teams, we got to sit down with Darius Kasparaitis last week for a chat. Great guy with great stories. You can listen to the podcast here or check it out on YouTube. Believe it or not, he had the chance to play for the Bruins once upon a time.
Back to the game. The white hot B’s skated into this one 5-0-0 in their last 5GP while the Pens stumbled into the rink, fresh off a road trip that saw them go 1-4-0 in their own last 5GP. Looked like a layup right? Per HC Jim Montgomery, the Bruins had their worst morning skate of the year today and he hoped that it didn’t carry over into the game.
Unfortunately, Monty proved to be right in his assessment as Sidney Crosby got the Pens off and running 30 seconds into the game when his one-timer from the slot beat Linus Ullmark. Granted, it was a deflection off of Hampus Lindholm’s skate, and I would have liked to see a bit more from Jake DeBrusk on the backcheck, but still it was a rocket from 12 feet and Ullmark had no chance. Not a great start.
The Bruins tied it back up when Trent Frederic dragged the puck across the goal mouth from the LW wall after a great play to keep the puck in at the line by AJ Greer. Freddie’s bid got denied but Charlie Coyle was there to punch it past Tristan Jarry with a couple of whacks. Tie game.
Jakob Lauko got the first of his NHL career when he converted a perfect seam pass from Nick Foligno to beat Jarry to give the Bruins the lead late in the first. Foligno steamrolled Rickard Rakell on the wall at the Bruins blue line and gathered the puck (while sending Rakell’s stick pinwheeling away like a matchstick) and broke up ice with Tomas Nosek trailing. Foligno drove down the RW and laid the puck right onto Lauko’s tape. As Homeboy Jack likes to say, it was a catch and release over the sprawling Jarry. Don’t overlook the importance of Nosek driving the net on this play. Also, a nice move by Foligno to secure the puck for Lauko. That score held until the first intermission.
With less than 2 minutes played in the second period, another broken play found Evgeni Malkin alone at the post after a pass deflected off Anton Stralman. Geno potted it in the open side and the score was tied again. And this is when the wheels fell off.
During a delayed penalty, with the Pens controlling the puck, Brock McGinn found Josh Archibald alone in the slot for a one-timer on the low to high play and just like that the Bruins were trailing again. The Pens were spending way too much time in the Bruins zone and creating sustained offensive looks. The Bruins were barely able to summon consecutive shots on net on Jarry and the Real Black and Gold looked choppy and out of sync.
During a scramble at the goal mouth, Bryan Rust knocked one past Ullmark and all of sudden the Bruins were down by a pair with about half of a hockey game still to play. But as bad as that was, it only got worse as Rakell (who apparently had found his stick) beat Ullmark clean over the glove with a drag snap from the top of the RW circle. For those of you scoring at home, that’s 3 goals in 1:54 and 2 goals in :20 seconds. Yikes.
At this point, Montgomery pulled Ullmark in favor of Jeremy Swayman. I don’t think Ullmark played poorly (ok that last one was not great), but it was the right call. The team needed a spark, and sometimes a goalie change can create that. About a minute and a half later, that spark showed up on the power play in the form of Brad Marchand. After a goal by Patrice Bergeron was disallowed (HC Mike Sullivan apparently is perfect on his regular season goal challenges), Marchy continued his blistering start with a snipe from the RW circle. The B’s were moving the puck well on the PP between Marchand, DeBrusk and Lindholm as Marchand crept closer and closer until Lindholm fed him perfectly for a one timer over the blocker far-side. Down 2 heading into the final frame. So you’re saying there’s a chance.
It was a pretty ugly out there to open the third. How ugly you ask? I’d say about as ugly as your Tuesday night beer league. I mean, sloppy puck control, ugly breakouts and too many odd man rushes to count. It was also in the third that Swayman went down with what looked to be a lower body injury. As the Pens drove the net, Sway split out to seal off the lower half. With Bergeron on the back check, he lost an edge and slid into Swayman pushing back on his left leg which looked to buckle during the play. It was enough to send Swayman limping off the ice and for Ullmark to come back into the game.
Pavel Zacha got the B’s within a goal when he got a tip on Lindholm’s wrister from the point. Lindholm threw one on the net from the LW point and Zacha knocked it down where it bounced down then up and over Jarry’s blocker to make the score 5-4 in favor of the Pens. Can you feel it coming? Some of that never say die magic might be swirling around this group.
Down by a goal and with the puck in the Pens end, the Bruins got Ullmark to the bench and put Taylor Hall out as the extra attacker. With 1:17 left in regulation Hall corralled a chest high puck with excellent hand/eye and batted it down at his feet. With the puck still bouncing, Hall swept it at the net putting it past Jarry far side for the game tying goal. Oh I bet the Pens were squeezing those sticks heading into overtime.
We got extra hockey and the Bruins had to kill off a 4 on 3 power play before Lindholm called game. Bergeron won the faceoff in the Bruins defensive zone and Lindholm gathered the puck behind the net. Lindholm broke up ice and juked a Pens defender picking up speed the whole way. Coming into the Pens zone he went inside outside on Marcus Pettersson before beating Jarry clean over the glove. Bruins win a thriller, and did you ever have any doubt?
I know I’ve been prone to hyperbole in the past in this space (and on Twitter, and Facebook and Instagram and on our podcast and on other outlets), but this could prove to be one of those type of games that galvanizes a group for the season. Just remember this one once the playoffs roll around.
No further notes, it’s too damn late. Up next are the NYR. Hope you all had a Happy Halloween.
You can read more about Brownie in his bio down below, and follow him on Twitter at: @Abrow28