BOSTON — Shutting down two of the top five forwards in the NHL always is a difficult challenge, but it’s even tougher when key defensive players are out of the lineup.
The Bruins were without No. 1 defenseman Zdeno Chara, as well as quality defensive forwards David Krejci and Chris Kelly, in Monday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins because of injuries. It actually was the first time Chara had missed a game against the Penguins since he was a member of the New York Islanders in 2000.
As a result, the Penguins’ superstar center duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin was able to dominate large portions of the game and tally a combined five points.
Malkin scored twice, including the game-winner in overtime. Crosby skated the puck down the left side of the ice into the attacking zone and found Malkin for a slap shot that beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to end the game.
“Well, I’m focused on the puck and I’m not giving him too much net to shoot at, and there’s a net-drive guy and I’ve got to be ready for that pass,” Rask said when asked about the final goal. “And that’s the worst-case scenario for me, because I’m so far out of my net to go across. I got across, but I felt it hit my stick, but I guess not enough.”
Malkin also scored on a power play in the second period, tying the score at 2 after Boston took its only lead of the game with two goals in 28 seconds. Crosby picked up assists on both of Malkin’s goals and also opened the scoring with a backhand shot at 3:33 of the first period.
Monday’s performance moved Crosby into a first-place tie with Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek for the NHL lead in scoring at 29 points. Malkin now sits alone in fourth place with 25 points.
— Bruins defenseman Joe Morrow scored his first career NHL goal in the second period. It came against the team that drafted him in 2011, then sent him to the Dallas Stars as part of the Brenden Morrow trade in 2012-13.
“At first, I thought (Gregory) Campbell touched it, but yeah, I guess it didn’t,” Morrow said. “It was a good feeling, good thing to get that out of the way. First point, too, so hopefully I can kind of do something offensively out there for once and contribute that way, too.”
— Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury earned the 300th win of his regular-season career, all of which have come with Pittsburgh.
“It’s tough to realize, maybe, but it’s something I’m happy and proud,” Fleury said of his achievement. “I’ve been fortunate to play with good teams, too.”
— Pittsburgh winger Beau Bennett suffered an injury in the second period and immediately headed to the locker room. He received just 2:22 of ice time in the third period.
“Yeah, Beau got injured in the second period, and we just didn’t feel that in the third that it was worth pushing him, so we are reevaluating it tonight and just to see,” Penguins head coach Mike Johnston said. “They felt that he could go back and he tried it, but I just didn’t think it was sharp so sometime when that happens with these, you know, not fully ready to play, its better to put somebody else in.”
— Bruins forward Brad Marchand returned to the lineup after battling an undisclosed ailment.
“Felt good, felt a little rusty,” Marchand said. “My plays with the puck weren’t great, but I felt better toward the end of the game.”
He’s not yet at 100 percent, but he’s not far away.
“I’m feeling close,” Marchand said. “I felt a lot better than I did earlier, so it’s great to get back and be part of the team again.”
— Boston had two goals disallowed, which has become a frustrating trend this season. Patrice Bergeron scored in the first period, but officials ruled that he played the puck with a high stick. Carl Soderberg deflected a puck into the net during the second period, but that goal also was disallowed because the referee determined Soderberg directed the puck using his glove.
“On that first goal, the closest referee calls it a goal. And then it’s no goal because the three furthest ones think it’s a high stick, so I guess that’s what’s frustrating in my mind,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “I don’t know what the league looked at. When I looked at the replay myself, it looked more inconclusive. Now, they may contradict me and say they had a better angle from where they were, but that’s how it looked to me. I think that’s a little frustrating, especially the number of goals that we’ve had turned back on us this year.
“With what we’re going through, we’re working hard to score goals and yet you get those taken away. We had a couple of tough calls on us tonight, too. It gets frustrating with the guys working so hard, feeling like you play well enough to win and you come out of here losing in overtime when you thought you scored enough goals to win.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images