|P.J. Axelsson's tip eluded goaltender Dany Sabourin to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. (Justine Hunt/Globe Staff)|
For a team to roll off 10 straight wins and 14 consecutive victories at home, it has to make the plays that go unnoticed to be successful.
Last night before 17,565 at TD Banknorth Garden, Dennis Wideman was Exhibit A of a player making the right decisions at the right times that led to a 4-2 Boston win over a desperate Pittsburgh Penguins club.
"They came out hard and played well," Wideman said of the Penguins, who played their first game after a players-only meeting called after Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the Bruins. "They're a good team. We knew we had a tall task to beat those guys tonight."
In the first period, Wideman recorded an assist on P.J. Axelsson's power-play goal by making the slightest of shifts at the point. In the second period, a clever rap off the wall kick-started the breakout that led to Milan Lucic's winning goal.
Then in the third period, with the Penguins banging on the door for the tying goal, Wideman helped Manny Fernandez stop arguably the game's best player from making it a 3-3 game.
Just another night at the office.
In the first period, with the score tied at 1-1 (David Krejci scored Boston's first goal at 4:05, extending his points streak to 10 games), the Bruins went on the power play when defenseman Alex Goligoski, playing forward last night, was called for delay of game for dumping the puck into the seats. Wideman, who has replaced Patrice Bergeron as the left-point man on the No. 1 power-play unit, had the puck at the blue line and considered his options.
His best play was hitting Marc Savard down low. But the Penguins had the passing lane filled. Solution: clear it out.
With a quick look to point partner Zdeno Chara, Wideman forced the Penguins to cheat toward the captain to negate his one-timer. The fake opened up the passing lane, and Wideman snapped a diagonal pass to Savard.
"Seemed like against these guys, that lane was open," Savard said. "Up in Pittsburgh, he found it a couple times. Usually when [Marco] Sturm is out there, that's our play. I can slide it to him. Axey was in the right place tonight."
Savard dished to Axelsson, but the puck was deflected and popped into the air. No matter, as Axelsson took a backhand swing and batted the puck past goalie Dany Sabourin at 9:24 to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
In the second, the dangerous Evgeni Malkin skated down the right wing with some help in the middle. Malkin threw the puck into the slot area, hoping forward Maxime Talbot would get a scoring chance. But Wideman read the play and stepped into the space.
"Malkin threw it in the middle and I knew that Talbot was out there somewhere around me," Wideman said. "I didn't think I had time to see where my guys were. So I was just thinking about getting it out of the middle and getting it on the wall."
Wideman picked off the pass and sent a hard rap off the boards that Chuck Kobasew collected to start the breakout. Kobasew, flying down the left wing, threw the puck into the middle for a driving Stephane Yelle. The puck hit traffic in front before it got to Yelle, but Lucic was there to find the loose puck, wristing the winning goal past Sabourin at 12:25.
In the third period, the Penguins halved Boston's two-goal lead. Winger Ruslan Fedotenko took a pass from linemate Miroslav Satan and drove to the net. Fernandez (30 saves) got a piece of Fedotenko's first shot. But Fedotenko followed his shot, collected the rebound, and tucked a backhander past Fernandez at 6:20, making it a 3-2 game.
Late in the third period, Sidney Crosby won an offensive-zone draw against Yelle. The puck skittered back to Malkin at the point, and the Russian loaded up his smoker of a one-timer with hopes of tying the game.
Fernandez saw it coming.
"I had a clear lane," said Fernandez. "That's what Dennis was telling me. He was blocking the forward as he was coming to the front of the net. I saw that I got the lane."
Savard capped the win with an empty-net goal at 19:57. The good times continue to roll.