In the end, Tuesday’s Bruins-Penguins tilt came down to execution.
The Penguins stormed back in the third to even things up behind a Jason Zucker tally — shortly after their final power play attempt expired — and Kasperi Kapanen’s equalizer with 3:16 left in regulation. The Bruins made their effort worthwhile in overtime, but not before a pair of close calls.
On the heels of Evgeni Malkin hitting the post and Pittsburgh botching a 3-on-0 rush, Craig Smith buried home David Krejci’s feed — his second as a Bruin — with 10.9 ticks left in OT, securing Boston’s thrilling 3-2 victory.
Craig Smith wins it in overtime.
Bruins win, 3-2. pic.twitter.com/kuofH6OqTS
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 27, 2021
“Some overtimes go like that,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said on the ‘odd’ overtime sequences. “We gave up one [odd-man rush] where our ‘D’ just went down — it wasn’t a smart play to go into that pile — and the other one we just fell. So it was one of those NHL welcome to overtime moments…but at the end of the day, we got a post save and a stick save, and we got our 2-on-0 and were able to convert.”
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins improve to 4-1-1 on the young season:
Rask marched on in the waning moments
Tuukka Rask is hurting following this sequence that leads to Zucker’s goal.
However, he’s staying in the game. pic.twitter.com/Ye2rXM7wVq
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 27, 2021
Boston’s shorthanded unit got caught on a long shift during Pittsburgh’s fifth and final power-play attempt. The PKers eventually succumbed to the potent power play. In the middle of that, Rask showcased discomfort in the lower-body before Zucker’s tally and remained down for a short while.
“We would’ve called timeout if need be, or replaced him if we really had to,” Cassidy said of Rask’s situation. “But he said he was okay…I thought he battled hard tonight and was excellent.”
As painful as it looked, Rask didn’t leave his crease. He quickly returned to form, making quality stops late in the third period, including a pad save on a breakaway attempt by Kapanen.
Rask and the Bruins benefitted from Malkin hitting the crossbar shortly into the 3V3 extra session. He later found himself in the middle of a 3-on-0 rush with Colton Sceviour trailing Malkin and Kris Letang. In the midst of Malkin and Letang playing proverbial patty cake with the puck, Rask got a blocker on the puck to prevent the Penguins from securing the two points.
Penguins had a 3-on-0 and didn’t get a shot on net lmaoooo pic.twitter.com/NyHLw4QxJa
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 27, 2021
Over a minute elapsed before Krejci fed Smith to give the Bruins their third-straight victory.
“I was chasing them, and I thought Tuukks [Rask] would be pretty excited having three guys coming down on them,” Smith said with a laugh. “But he made a great stop, and we got some good bounces. He played great all game. I think he was dialed in, and he gave us a chance to win.”
Brad Marchand added another goal to his shorthanded resume
Over the years, Marchand has evolved into one of the more well-rounded scorers in the National Hockey League. On Tuesday, the veteran winger once again displayed his shorthanded prowess.
— Marina Maher (@marinakmaher) January 27, 2021
With his snappy first period tally on the penalty kill, Marchand extended his career shorthanded goal mark to 28, the most among active NHLers.
Marchand has turned his crafty penalty skill traits into a habit. He’s a threat to score in every situation, yet Marchand displays a killer instinct every time he finds himself on a shorthanded odd-man rush.
“It’s just the way it plays out,” said Marchand, who surprisingly only netted one shorthanded goal last season. “You can go an entire year without getting one chance, and then you get a couple [of chances] in a couple of games. It’s just opportunistic. Sometimes it bounces your way, and you get that chance, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Marchand surpassed Rick Middleton two years ago as the franchise’s all-time leader in shorthanded goals. It might take another ‘nifty’ individual to surpass Marchand in that category.
Bruins may face another potential short-term lineup conundrum
The Bruins will receive a reinforcement when David Pastrnak suits up for the first time this year. The dynamic Czech winger will travel with his teammates for Boston’s upcoming four-game road trip beginning Saturday against ex-teammate Zdeno Chara and the Washington Capitals.
But Cassidy may have to alter his lineup before that after Jake DeBrusk’s exit following a first-period collision with Sidney Crosby. The fifth-year bench boss stated DeBrusk is day-to-day with a lower-body ailment.
With Pastrnak unlikely to suit up on Thursday for the back end of the two-game stint with the Penguins, Cassidy faces another short-term conundrum with his top-six.
Since last Monday’s loss to the Islanders, Cassidy slotted DeBrusk with the dynamic duo of Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the top line. Before that, Jack Studnicka and Anders Bjork had their shot at top-line duty. Out of those two options, Bjork would likely get the nod with Marchand and Bergeron if DeBrusk can’t go and Pastrnak remains out.
Luckily, this won’t be a long-term thing with Pastrnak’s impending return to the top line. Even with DeBrusk and Pastrnak out, the growing chemistry with the second and third lines — consisting of Krejci, Nick Ritchie (who netted his third goal of the year during a 5v3 power play Tuesday), Studnicka, Charlie Coyle, Trent Frederic, and Smith — provides some needed scoring balance throughout Boston’s lineup.
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