Bruins Squander Lead, Prevail in OT

by | Jan 27, 2021

Boston, MA – It took extra time, but the Boston Bruins closed out the Pittsburgh Penguins to gain the meaningful division point when Craig Smith fired a shot past Tristan Jarry (33 saves) with 10.9 remaining. Bruins keeper Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots, again coming up big in three-on-three play.

Game-time addition defenseman Connor Clifton gave the Penguins their first power-play at 7:18 when he was called for Cross-Checking. Clifton was back in the line-up for Boston as Matt Grzelcyk could not go again due to a nagging injury sustained on Thursday. Grzelcyk did participate in the pre-game warm-up.

However, it was the Bruins and Brad Marchand that capitalized on the situation. Charlie McAvoy snapped a quick pass to Marchand, blue line to blue line. Marchand raced into the Pittsburgh zone, cut in on Kris Letang, and sniped a shot past Jarry glove-side for the early 1-0 Bruins lead. The goal was Marchand’s fourth of the year. The 5′-9″ forward has 28 career short-handed goals to lead all active players.

In the second period, Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin was whistled for Hooking at 6:15 after Trent Frederic‘s forecheck in the corner led to a Malkin turnover. Brandon Tanev was sent off just seconds later for Tripping Marchand and giving Boston a 5-on-3 power-play.

Brett Ritchie continued his power-play production as he tapped in a Marchand feed at 7:58 to take advantage of the Bruins’ good fortune. All three of Ritchie’s goals have come on the power-play thus far. McAvoy also assisted on the Ritchie goal.

Pittsburgh found their stride in the third period. With Ritchie in the box for Tripping at 6:39, the Penguins capitalized on the power-play. Jason Zucker banged home a loose puck from the right circle to cut the deficit to 2-1. Jared McCann and Drew O’Connor assisted on Zucker’s first goal of the year. For O’Connor, a former Dartmouth star, it was his first NHL point in his debut.

Kasperi Kapanen tied the game 2-2 at 16:44 when he raced into the Bruins zone, beat McAvoy, and cut-in on Rask to backhand the puck past his countryman’s outstretched leg. Evgeni Malkin and McCann assisted on the Finnish winger’s first of the season and first as a Penguins member.

In overtime, Malkin had a breakaway bid and beat Rask but hit the crossbar.

Back in the Penguins zone, Jakub Zboril slips as he pinches in on a loose puck. Malkin corraled it and was off to the races with Letang, but the Penguin duo made one pass too many as they approached Rask and lost the puck down low.

With twenty seconds left in overtime, McAvoy stole the puck from Pittsburgh defenseman John Marino. McAvoy hit Smith in stride. Smith carried into the offensive zone, fed Krejci, who quickly passed back to Smith for the wrist shot. Krejci and Smith made sure not to make a similar mistake as the Penguins. Smith unleashed a laser by Jarry’s glove for the win.

Pittsburgh had 10:57 of power-play time. It didn’t equate to any goals, but it carried into the Bruins’ overall play as the game wore on.

“Five-on-five, I thought we were fine,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “Other than that, we had six minors…It’s not how we play typically.”

“I wanted to come in and just do my job the best I could,” said Smith on fitting in with his new team thus far. “Just chip in and help with the puzzle. This team has some great leadership and got everybody pulling on the same rope. If I can be just a little part of that, I’ll be doing my job.”

The two teams meet again on Thursday at 7:00 pm at TD Garden.

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