3d-period burst lifts Bruins
PITTSBURGH — There they were last night, down two goals and 20 minutes away from another humbling loss. But two nights ago, the Bruins learned the hard way that two-goal third-period deficits mean nothing.
“I thought going into the third, the attitude in here and the emotions in the locker room were really positive,’’ said Zdeno Chara, whose club was booted out of Montreal Saturday night after gagging up a two-goal lead. “We all believed that we could come back. That’s what we did. We were just focusing on getting the first one. Then getting the second one right away, in such a short span of time, was huge to tie the game.’’
Last night, the Bruins did the Canadiens one better. After allowing three unanswered goals last Saturday, the Bruins erased a two-strike deficit by tucking four third-period pucks — Chara, Brad Marchand, Mark Recchi, and Gregory Campbell provided the offense — into the Pittsburgh net to claim a 4-2 win before 18,245 at
“It was just such a great comeback, especially after the game against Montreal when we had the lead and we lost it,’’ Chara said. “Great character win.’’
After 40 minutes, the Bruins deserved a better fate than being down two. They acknowledged being flat in the opening period, but emerged with more spunk after the first intermission.
In the second, grunt forward Michael Rupp flipped a bad-angle backhander on goal. Tuukka Rask was down on one knee — he should have been squared up against the shooter — and saw Rupp’s shot slip under his left armpit at 11:39 for an uncharacteristic soft goal.
Then at 15:12, after Recchi took an unnecessary tripping penalty, Kris Letang hammered a one-timer from the point through a Chris Kunitz screen to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.
At the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury was looking like a Cup-winning goalie. Late in the second, Fleury stopped Milan Lucic on an in-front chance. At 18:40, after Campbell redirected a Chara shot, Fleury made an athletic stop to keep the Bruins off the board.
“It was a matter of going out there with confidence in the third,’’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We felt that if we could get that first goal, we could get things going again. I know it took awhile, but guys believed in that philosophy.’’
Before the third, the down-on-their-luck Bruins could have tucked their tails and coasted to another loss. During the second intermission, however, all their work was trained on keeping an upbeat attitude and pressuring Fleury.
“It was positive,’’ said Campbell. “Claude made mention of the chances that we had. Fleury was playing extremely well. Just stick with it. We scored four or five in this building the last time we were here. We had it done to us on Saturday night. In this league, the game’s not over until that final buzzer. We kept fighting.’’
Fittingly, perhaps, it fell upon the power play to get things going. At 14:39, Brooks Orpik was sent off for boarding Steven Kampfer. The first unit that Julien sent out — Kampfer, Patrice Bergeron, Marc Savard, Blake Wheeler, and Michael Ryder — didn’t get any good sniffs. The power play, which had entered the night scoreless in the last five games, looked like it was going to fail again.
But with time ticking away on Orpik’s infraction, patience by Dennis Seidenberg finally opened up an opportunity. Seidenberg, handling the puck at the left point, drew Craig Adams and Maxime Talbot his way and forced them to sag into the slot. Once Seidenberg recognized that Talbot had backed off, opening up a shooting lane for Chara, he sent a D-to-D pass to the captain. Chara didn’t get all of his muscle behind the shot, but it beat Fleury at 16:37 to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to one.
Twelve seconds later, the Bruins struck again. After the following faceoff, Campbell, playing with Bergeron and Brad Marchand, blasted a slapper on goal that Fleury stopped. Bergeron, driving to the net, was in the right position for the rebound. He turned, spotted Marchand charging toward the goal, and fed his linemate a pass. Marchand tucked the puck past Fleury at 16:49 to tie the score at 2-2.
Then at 17:52, Jordan Staal was sent off for holding. After Fleury stopped Ryder’s shot, Recchi, standing in the net-front danger area as usual, tapped in a backhand shot at 19:10 for the winning goal (Campbell added an ENG).
It was an especially sweet goal for Recchi, who had fought through one of his tougher games. He was in the box for Letang’s power-play goal. Later in the second, after he was sent off for a questionable hooking call on Staal, Recchi was tagged with another minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Penguins a four-minute power play.
But like his teammates, Recchi wasn’t about to quit in the third.
“You don’t like to take penalties,’’ Recchi said. “It was nice to get out there. It ended up being a big goal for us. That’s the most important thing is the end result. You come in and help your team. That’s what you always hope to do.’’