Bruins give it away in OT
Penguins end their 7-game win streak
The record will show that last night, at 1:52 of overtime, Dustin Jeffrey halted the Bruins’ seven-game winning streak. After picking off a Dennis Seidenberg pass, Jeffrey beat Tim Thomas to give the Penguins a 3-2 win before 17,565 at TD Garden.
“I made a beautiful pass,’’ cracked Seidenberg. “It was right on his tape. It caught the guy with speed and I was at the end of my shift.’’
In reality, the Bruins lost the game well before it went to extra time.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the second — Zdeno Chara took a backhand flip from David Krejci, walked into the slot, and picked the top corner with a well-placed wrister at 7:26 — the Bruins disappeared. On just about every shift following Chara’s goal, the Penguins took it to their opponents.
They were hungrier for pucks in the Boston zone. Their ferocious, heavy forecheck pinned the Bruins and forced them into pressure-relieving flips, rims, and chips. In turn, Pittsburgh regained control of the puck and sent their forwards flowing into the Boston end once more.
They shredded the ice in the Boston zone to snowflakes. Appropriately, the Penguins were rewarded with two second-period goals, giving them a 2-1 lead.
“I think it was mostly us,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “We weren’t moving our feet at all. We were second to the puck, if anything. At the same time, you couldn’t even establish a physical game because you couldn’t get there in time. They were on the puck and we were doing a lot of watching in that second period. They just took the game away from us at that point.’’
What made the second so disappointing for the Bruins was that Pittsburgh, minus Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Chris Kunitz, played with better legs. The Bruins were off Friday. The Penguins were coming off a 2-1 overtime loss at New Jersey and arrived in Boston early yesterday morning.
That a tired Pittsburgh club could impose its will so thoroughly underscores an issue that remains for the Bruins: The challenge of retrieving pucks, initiat ing breakouts, and turning defense into offense.
“We couldn’t make flat passes,’’ said Chara. “We were either a little bit ahead or a little bit behind the right spots and positions. Pittsburgh did a good job putting a lot of pressure on us and not giving us much time and space out there. They play really well.’’
Pittsburgh kicked off the rally after Johnny Boychuk, trying to keep the cycle going, pinched too low. With Boychuk caught up ice, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy flew away for a two-on-one rush against Chara. Staal’s first pass thudded off Kennedy’s skate. But Kennedy, still in stride, kicked the puck to his blade, then dished a return pass to Staal. The pass turned Chara and Thomas inside out, and Staal tucked the puck into an empty net at 10:09.
Just more than a minute later, the Penguins took a 2-1 lead. The Bruins were caught chasing the puck in their zone, with the Penguins a step ahead upon every pass. From the point, Zbynek Michalek tried to one-time a pass from Maxime Talbot. Michalek didn’t get all of his blade behind the shot. But it was just enough to get the puck to Jeffrey in the slot.
Thomas had been square to Michalek. But after the partial fan, Thomas tried to reset and go after Jeffrey. Instead, Jeffrey caught Thomas in between and slid a shot five-hole at 11:19.
The Bruins found their legs in the third, but had trouble solving Marc-Andre Fleury (29 saves). In the final minute, with Thomas pulled for a sixth skater, Matt Cooke had a chance to end the game with an empty-netter. Instead, Cooke thudded the puck off Tomas Kaberle’s left shin pad.
At the other end, Chara held the blue line at the left point with a desperation dump into the right corner, where Mark Recchi hunted it down.
“That’s basically all I had,’’ Chara said. “The puck was bouncing so bad. It wasn’t even flat. It was basically standing up. I was just trying to keep the puck in the zone. I couldn’t go short side. I just had to go across the ice.’’
Recchi pushed the puck to Milan Lucic, who went behind the net and spotted Nathan Horton at the far post. In one motion, Horton brought in Lucic’s pass and shoveled it out front to Krejci. Before Fleury could square himself to the shot, Krejci went high blocker to tie the score at 2 with 32.5 seconds remaining.
In overtime, Seidenberg started the ill-fated breakout by trying to hit Michael Ryder at the red line. But Jeffrey, shadowing Ryder, stepped in front of Seidenberg’s pass and curled into the offensive zone. Because of Jeffrey’s momentum, the flat-footed Seidenberg didn’t have enough legs to counter his attack.
A moment later, the Bruins’ winning streak had ended.
“If you’re going to take one overtime loss in eight games, it’s not a bad thing,’’ Julien said. “We feel that we’re expecting a lot of ourselves right now, and we’re disappointed we didn’t get that second point.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.