Over the past seven games the Boston Bruins were beginning to find themselves. Not long ago, seemingly void of any dependable character, the Bruins were now looking at their reflections in the unscathed ice of the TD Garden and liking what they saw.
For the better part of two weeks the Black and Gold shook up the west coast, and returned back East without any losses to their name and inspiring sports radio conversations of a Stanley Cup run in very near future. But unfortunately for the Bruins, they didn’t happen to be the only team in Boston last night that was taking steps towards finding out who they were.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, plagued by inconsistencies of their own in the past month, played spoiler to the Bruins winning streak which ended at seven games in front of a sold out crowd at the TD Garden Saturday night.
A fews months ago, in the public spotlight of HBO’s 24/7 and the NHL’s Winter Classic buildup, the Penguins strung out wins much like the Bruins as of recent.
Two major injuries later to not only their two best players, but two of the best in the league, and the Penguins were suddenly taken from the red carpet and thrust into the working class of the National Hockey League. “Pittsburgh hadn’t been winning a lot of games but they had been playing real good team hockey.” explained Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas “they have less of an offensive threat without Sidney (Crosby). They are playing a good game. They play very well with Sidney or no Sidney, or (Evgeni) Malkin or no Malkin.They are good at a lot of different things.“
As they’ve been doing so well, through most of the game the Bruins used their physicality to their advantage. Like a schoolyard bully they shook the Penguins upside down for most of the game waiting for their milk money to fall to the ground. With a half a minute left down 2-1, just enough dropped out to break even before the end of regulation when David Krejci put a shot past Penguins goalie Marc Andre Fleury to push the game into overtime.
“I think we were a little deflated even before the goal.” explained Penguins coach Dan Bylsma “When we got into overtime we were pushing to get the second point, that was our mindset on the bench. We’ve been battling hard in games and maybe not getting the two points and coming out on the back end and in some overtimes.”
It looked like another salvaged game for the Bruins, and possibly yet another overtime heartache for the Penguins who still haven’t won in regulation for over a month.
But midway through the extra frame Dustin Jeffrey broke free from the pack and corralled the puck for a breakaway on Thomas who struggled with the play.
“Basically it turned into a break away. He cut across the net and I was trying to stay with him” explained Thomas “As he was falling he lifted it and got it over my pad and in between my arm and body. It wasn’t a five hole goal. I wish for once I didn’t cover the five hole.”
“Our guys battled hard and its been a stretch of hockey where we’ve had some close games. To come up with two (points) is big for us” said Bylsma
For the Bruins, their stellar yet long road trip seemed to be catching up with them.
“I mean we looked a little tired. Obviously we didn’t seem to have that jump for half the game.” explained Bruins coach Claude Julien “We’re trying to give them some rest and we’ve got a big game coming up on Tuesday and somehow you have to recover from this road trip and the amount of games. we’ve tried to d our best there. We just felt that we were expecting a lot out of ourselves right now and disappointed we didn’t get that second point.”
Now looking ahead to next week, the Bruins look bounce back to a Montreal Canadiens club who is hot on the trail of taking over the division lead. “We just have to get ready to play another tough game against another tough team who is playing very well and winning a lot of games.” explained Thomas “Montreal seems to be hot right now. We just have to be ready to play. You cant win them all.”