We pointed out earlier that the Bruins were doing a great job recently of not letting their offensive futility frustrate them and were still playing within their system. Well, despite finding their offense, they are likely more frustrated now than after that 1-0 shootout loss Thursday when they couldn?t score even while piling on 40 shots. The Bruins veered away from their stingy defensive play and got caught up in a run-and-gun game with the one team you don?t want to do that with: Pittsburgh.
Despite coming back from four deficits and taking a late lead, the Bruins couldn?t hang with the Penguins' speed and a wide-open game, suffering some bad luck (a broken Patrice Bergeron stick) on the tying goal with 0.4 seconds left and then handing Pittsburgh the overtime winner on a silver platter with a lack of communication in their own end that led to Pascal Dupuis? game-winning goal.
On that bungled play behind the net when Tim Thomas calmly played the puck, defenseman Matt Hunwick should have been warning Thomas that Jordan Staal was coming down hard on him.
Also, what was Dennis Wideman doing? We?ve had both of those blue liners in our minus section of our weekly "Plus-Minus" column, and they?re doing a great job of making a home there as minuses. It may be time for one or both of them — probably Wideman, with all his turnovers — to take a seat in the press box for a game or two. It's time to give Johnny Boychuk a chance in there.
The Bruins can take away some positives from this tough loss, such as the fact that the offense awoke from an early-season slumber. Six players had two-point nights. Captain Zdeno Chara, his blue-line partner Derek Morris and forwards Blake Wheeler and David Krejci all had a goal and an assist. Meanwhile, Bergeron and Mark Recchi had two helpers each. Also, Michael Ryder, another one of our minuses this past week, snapped out of an 11-game scoring funk and found the twine, while Krejci answered his coach?s request for a better effort and production.
But as Krejci told the media after the game, they need to "get the offense going while the defense is going." Most likely, if both are working together, we won?t see many 6-5 games. But 4-1 or 4-2 will be just fine as long as the Bruins maintain their team defense and play their game, two things they didn?t do on too many occasions Saturday night.
End of overtime, Penguins win 6-5: The Penguins complete the improbable comeback on a forgettable play by Tim Thomas and Dennis Wideman,who maybe didn't communicate properly, but nonetheless cough up the puck beside the net. Jordan Staal poked it loose to Pascal Dupuis, and Dupuis buries it 1:24 into OT for a 6-5 Penguins win.
That was simply a heartbreaker for the Bruins after battling back all night and taking the lead late in regulation. Just a hard way to lose a hard-fought game.
End of regulation, 5-5: The Penguins just tied the game on a Billy Guerin goal with just 0.4 left. What a crazy game. We're headed to overtime for the second straight game.
Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby got the helpers.
Third period, :44, Bruins 5-4: The Penguins have pulled their goalie for the extra man and now called a timeout.
Third period, 1:41, Bruins 5-4: Marco Sturm has now been credited for the Bruins' fifth goal, and Zdeno Chara gets an assist. Mark Recchi gets his second assist on the play as well.
Third period, 2:29, Bruins 5-4: Wow! You have to give this Bruins squad a ton of credit. They have come back four times to tie the game, and now Zdeno Chara just gave them their first lead with a rocket from the point.
Third period, 4:02, 4-4: Tim Thomas just denied Sidney Crosby on a shorthanded breakaway to keep the game tied at four.
Before that, David Krejci scored a power-play goal to tie the game for the Bruins when he slammed home the rebound of a Zdeno Chara blast. Krejci now has a goal and an assist and is answering the bell in a big way.
Blake Wheeler got an assist and his second point of the night after scoring earlier.
Third period, 7:26, Penguins 4-3: If ever the Bruins' power play needed to find itself, it's now. They have the perfect chance with a four-minute man advantage thanks to a Matt Cooke high-stick, and a 5-on-3 as well thanks to a Sidney Crosby tripping call.
Third period, 11:00, Penguins 4-3: Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton just gave the Penguins another one-goal lead, and one has to wonder if the Bruins can comeback again?
Sidney Crosby has been everywhere this game, and he made a great pass to Eaton, who pinched in from the blue line on a 4-on-2 break.
Third period, 13:22, 3-3: The Bruins failed to score on the power play and are 0-for-1.
Following the power play, the Penguins applied some heavy pressure in the offensive zone, and while trying to block a shot, Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman appeared to get hurt. We'll keep you posted.
Third period, 17:11, 3-3: The Bruins are on their first power play of the game as Evgeni Malkin just took a tripping penalty, taking down Zdeno Chara.
Third period, 18:11, 3-3: Under way in the third period at "The Igloo."
End of second period, 3-3: The Bruins are showing lots of resiliency as, once again, they erased another one-goal deficit. Great pass by Patrice Bergeron on Derek Morris' second lamp-lighter of the season.
A quick note that they changed the Penguins' last goal to Sidney Crosby's goal as he apparently tipped in the Alex Goligoski shot from the point. That makes him even more amazing on that play – after holding the puck for so long, he created the scoring chance and then finished it off.
Second period, 1:18, 3-3: Starting to think maybe the Bruins are better off playing shorthanded. They killed off the third Pittsburgh power play of the night and their 20th straight. They also had two scoring chances. Just unbelievable tenacity by the PK.
Second period, 4:34, 3-3: The Penguins are on the power play for the third time as Blake Wheeler is in the sin bin for hooking.
Prior to that, Tim Thomas made an amazing save on an Evgeni Malkin breakaway
Second period, 4:58, 3-3: For the third time in the game, the Bruins have come back from a goal down as Derek Morris just tied the game on a nice feed from Patrice Bergeron. Mark Recchi had the other helper.
Second period, 5:18, Penguins 3-2: They're dealing with some broken board glass at the Igloo, so we have the time now to point out the success of Tim Thomas' "controlled chaos."
Bob Essensa, the Bruins' goalie coach, never argues that Thomas isn't unorthodox, but Essensa likes to call Thomas' style "controlled chaos." That's just what we saw again when Thomas just amazingly swatted a puck out of midair that was heading in behind him. It doesn't matter how you do it, folks. It's that you do it.
Second period, 7:31, Penguins 3-2: Let's see how the Bruins respond here. They have twice erased one-goal deficits.
Second period, 10:41, Penguins 3-2: Alex Goligoski just regained the lead for the Penguins. But Sidney Crosby made that play happen.
Crosby, holding the puck as if he had velcro on his stick blade, skated circles around the Bruins' defense, and when he saw he had no play, dished it off to Evgeni Malkin, who then found Goloigoski at the point. Gologoski sent a fluttering shot in and beat Tim Thomas.
Second period, 11:45, 2-2: By the way, the Bruins' penalty kill is 2-for-2, and their streak remains intact at 19.
Second period, 13:42, 2-2: Apparently, this is the night for struggling Bruins as David Krejci, Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder are looking like the dynamic trio they were a season ago.
All three linemates have a point and look much more confident and comfortable on the ice and in the dirty areas where they need to be.
Second period, 16:27, 2-2: Nonstop action to start the second period, and Michael Ryder has just tied the game at two on an unassisted snipe. Ryder breaks an 11-game scoreless streak with the goal.
End of first period, Penguins 2-1: All things considered, better than it could've been for the Bruins in that first period.
They could have unraveled early when Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0 almost right away, but the Bruins held strong and ended up putting on more pressure at that point, eventually knotting the game on Blake Wheeler's fifth goal of the season and his first in his last six games.
David Krejci is really starting to look like the David Krejci that had 73 points, too. That feed to Wheeler was trademark Krejci creativity.
The Bruins will need to kill off 1:38 more of that Steve Begin penalty, but the penalty kill is rolling so they can do it.
First period, :22, Penguins 2-1: Steve Begin just got called for slashing, and the Penguins are on their second power play of the game. They're 0-for-2.
First period, 3:36, Penguins 2-1: Mark Stuart tried to clear Matt Cooke out in front of the net, but it backfired as Cooke fell into Tim Thomas, and Pascal Dupuis fired it home for a 2-1 Bruins lead.
Ben Lovejoy of Concord, N.H., had the secondary assist.
First period, 5:41, 1-1: The Bruins almost scored again as Marco Sturm and Mark Recchi were banging away at Brent Johnson's pads trying to poke the puck through.
The penalty kill did it again, killing off Brad Marchand's penalty and their 17th straight power play. The Penguins did have some chances, but the Bruins were able to hold the fort.
First period, 8:48, 1-1: Brad Marchand is in the penalty box for "Holding The Stick." Kind of a questionable call there and starting to believe referees already have it out for Marchand.
First period, 11:31, 1-1: David Krejci just went to work in "Gretzky's office" and set up Blake Wheeler for an easy one-timer in front to tie the game at one.
Matt Hunwick had the secondary assist on the play. Great to see Krejci showing what he can do out there and answering Claude Julien's call for more hard work and production.
First period, 13:15, Penguins 1-0: Byron Bitz and Deryk Engelland just did the tango, and after a draw, they will go to the box for five minutes, both "feel shame and then they will go free".
First period, 13:22, Penguins 1-0: One had to figure the return of Evgeni Malkin would have the Penguins pumped up, and immediately, he makes an impact. But the Bruins did a nice job of not getting rattled there.
They had some sustained pressure on Brent Johnson and have been cycling the puck well.
First period, 18:18, Penguins 1-0: Jay McKee, a defenseman not known for offensive prowess, just gave the Penguins an early 1-0 lead.
McKee took a nice thread pass by Evgeni Malkin and beat Tim Thomas. Already Malkin is having an impact, and he gets his 200th career assist. Ruslan Fedotenko had the other helper.
Also, Brent Johnson got the surprise start in net for the Penguins.
7:22 p.m.: We are almost ready for game time in Pittsburgh at the Igloo. Lots of news on the Pittsburgh side as Evgeni Malkin is in and Chris Kunitz is out. Here's what both teams' lineups should look like:
Marco Sturm–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–David Krejci–Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille–Trent Whitfield–Vladimir Sobotka
Shawn Thornton–Steve Begin–Byron Bitz
Zdeno Chara–Derek Morris
Matt Hunwick–Dennis Wideman
Mark Stuart–Andrew Ference
Evgeni Malkin–Sidney Crosby–Ruslan Fedotenko
Matt Cooke–Jordan Staal–Bill Guerin
Pascal Dupuis–Mike Rupp–Mark Letestu
Eric Godard–Craig Adams–Chris Bourque
Alex Goligoski–Jay McKee
Martin Skoula–Deryk Engelland
Mark Eaton–Ben Lovejoy
1:20 p.m.: Chris Kunitz is out of the lineup for the Penguins with a shoulder injury and will be replaced by Mark Letestu.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The Penguins have recalled forward Mark Letestu from its American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre.
Letestu presumably was brought up in case Evgeni Malkin, who missed the past seven games because of a strained shoulder, or left winger Chris Kunitz, who was excused from Friday's practice because of what coach Dan Bylsma called "a nagging injury," cannot play when the Penguins face Boston tonight at 7:38 at Mellon Arena.
Letestu, 24, is 5 foot 11, 195 pounds. He never has played in the NHL.
10:15 a.m.: The Bruins (8-7-3) are in Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins (12-7-0) in a rematch of Boston's 3-0 shutout win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The Bruins got another stellar performance from Tim Thomas in that game, as the veteran netminder made 27 saves for his second shutout of the season.
The Bruins finished their recent four-game homestand on a down note with a 1-0 shootout loss to the Panthers, but they were 2-0-2 during that span and they seem to be playing as a more cohesive unit.
They will need to continue that Saturday night because Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin is expected to return the lineup and will surely give the Penguins an extra jump in their game and have Mellon Arena rocking. The Penguins are in an 0-for-26 power-play slump, but Malkin has the potential to snap them out of that in a hurry.
"I think the power play is something that probably comes a little easier, even when you first come back," Sidney Crosby, Penguins captain and probable Malkin linemate, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I think that's something [where], right away, he should be able to feel pretty comfortable."
The Bruins have one of the best penalty-kill units in the NHL right now, killing off the last 17 power plays they have faced and 31 of the last 32. So the Penguins' power play and Bruins' penalty kill could very well prove to be the difference.
But the Bruins also will need to get their power play going and just simply score some goals after being shutout for the third time in six games.
This will be another huge test for the Bruins as we get deeper into November with the grinding winter months not too far ahead. So stay with us here at NESN.com for our Live Bruins Blog as we will update you leading into faceoff in Pittsburgh and then blog the game for you.