With the Pittsburgh Penguins turning back the clock last week against the Carolina Hurricanes to the 1970s, the club combined with the Boston Bruins on Sunday night to create another way back memory filled promotion of their own.
The two clubs filled the net in a game reminiscent of the ’80s, scoring eleven times and exchanging leads and multi-goal runs before finally settling things in overtime.
Goalies were pulled, power plays were plentiful, starting goalies couldn’t cut the mustard. But it was one big save by Matt Murray in relief that helped save and spark a comeback win to send the Pens to their second consecutive win for the first time in five weeks (Dec. 1 and 2 to be exact).
With one minute remaining in a 5-5 tie, Marchand would be slashed by Jamie Oleksiak on a partial break. His penalty shot attempt would just be squeezed enough by the leg pads of Murray. As Murray slid by his far post, the puck would gently scoot through his legs and harmlessly at the side of the net.
Murray came in to the game to relieve Tristan Jarry. Jarry, who got the start, gave up five goals on 19 shots before being yanked late in the second. Murray would be perfect in the third period, and overtime making six saves.
A 6-5 victory over Boston that puts the Penguins back into a playoff position as the last wild-card. It more-than-likely will not hold up as Pittsburgh heads into a five-day vacation where teams will keep playing and jump back over them.
But seeing a desperation and intensity that has sorely been lacking over the last month is a great sign for the second half push towards the playoffs.
Sidney Crosby registered a three assist game as he looks to be refreshed. Evgeni Malkin would add two goals and an assist. His game winner coming 2:51 into overtime on a brilliant give-and-go-palooza with Phil Kessel. Kessel himself would add a power play goal midway through the first period to give the Penguins their first lead at 2-1.
After Kris Letang scored to make it 3-1 after one period, the game had the feel of a nice coasting win going into some time off. After allowing the first goal in the opening two minutes, Jarry seemed to be relaxed and on point.
The second period would change all of that.
The Bruins would strike four times during the second 20 minutes, including twice in exactly a minute to tie it at three. Marchand, Noel, Acciari, David Pastrnak and David Backes all lit the lamp to send Jarry to the showers early. A recent blip in a strong run for the rookie net minder who made a surprise consecutive start in a row with Murray healthy.
With the Penguins down 5-3 late in the second and having no momentum. Chalie McAvoy took a tripping call at 18:21 and the game turned again dramatically before the horn to end the period.
Malkin would connect on a one-timer from the slot with just under four-seconds to play in the frame. A perfect saucer pass from Crosby would do the trick, and the Penguins had life at a key moment in the game.
At 2:54 of the third, that momentum would build.
Riley Sheahan would catch Bruins keeper Tuukka Rask off of his post at a bad angle and fire the puck under his arm and in to knot it up at five a piece.
Pittsburgh would get a great opportunity to take the lead minutes later, but couldn’t capitalize on a power play chance. They would finish the night 2-for-3 on the man advantage, while killing both minors against them.
After Murray’s heroics, the over time period would again see Pittsburgh dominate territorial wise. Repeated rushes and perfect line changes while possessing the puck kept the play in the Boston zone for a significant chunk of time. With each overtime period the Penguins play, it is becoming evident that they have figured out a way to make the three-on-three their personal play ground. Often holding the puck for a minute at a time and sapping the opposing players to exhaustion.
After an icing call, the Penguins would win a face off and work a change during play. Boston tried too, but their slow change turned out to be their undo-ing as Kessel and Malkin played tic-tac-toe from the blue line in before Geno finished off a tap-in at the side of Rask. It was just a perfect play.
Malkin’s OT winner was his 12th such of his career, putting him in the lead for the most in franchise history.
Brian Dumoulin would return to the line up after missing two games and play just over 19 minutes. Ian Cole was the healthy scratch on defense, leaving Matt Hunwick in the line up. Hunwick’s weak physical play in front of the net would lead to the opening Boston goal on the night, just 1:51 in. Puzziling line up choice for sure by head coach Mike Sullivan.
Oleksiak was the other goal scorer for the Penguins, as his bomb from the point tied the game at one in the first. In a strange stat, Letang and Oleksiak both have three goals so far on the year.
Pittsburgh will get an ill-timed but much-needed rest. When they return from break they will play next Saturday at 1 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena against the Detroit Red Wings.
Stay tuned later in the week as we will take a look back at the Penguins first half and look ahead to the march to the post season.
Thanks, as always for reading!