A future Hall of Famer who established his credentials in the open ice, there was Jaromir Jagr along the boards, mucking it up for a loose puck.
The 41-year-old former Pittsburgh great outdueled Evgeni Malkin for the puck and pushed it ahead to Brad Marchand, who brought it over the blue line and flipped it to Patrice Bergeron for the winning goal.
”Everyone is doing everything in order to get the success and to get the wins, and it doesn’t matter what it is and who it is,” Bergeron said early Thursday after his goal at 15:19 of the second overtime gave Boston a 2-1 victory over the Penguins and a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
”Jags is a perfect example. He’s pretty much a legend; he’s a guy that’s going to be in the Hall of Fame at some point, and he’s doing the little thing right there just to fight for the puck. And you notice that as a teammate, and it goes a long way.”
After two blowouts in Pittsburgh to start the series, the Bruins returned to Boston to win a tightly contested game, getting a goal on their first shot just 1:42 in and then another on their last more than 93 minutes of playing time later.
With a victory in Game 4 at home Friday night, the 2011 Stanley Cup champions would earn a chance to play for a second title in three years.
”It was very long, very tiring. But we came out with the win,” Marchand said. ”We’re obviously very happy, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do. They’re going to come out harder the next game.”
Tuukka Rask stopped 53 shots for the Bruins, and David Krejci scored Boston’s only goal in regulation. With his assist, Jagr moved past Paul Coffey and into fifth place on the NHL’s career list with 197 postseason points.
”He seems to be having a lot of fun with our group,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ”(He’s) a 41-year-old that’s never been known for real physical play, but more for the type of game that those Hall of Famers and superstar players play. And right now he’s just doing whatever is asked of him, and that’s a credit to Jags.”
Tomas Vokoun made 38 saves for the Penguins a game after he was yanked from the net after giving up three quick goals in the first period. After Krejci, who leads the playoffs in scoring with nine goals and 12 assists, made it 1-0, Chris Kunitz tied it in the second period.
It was 1-1 after two periods, and it stayed that way through two more. But 4:41 before the second overtime would expire, Marchand grabbed the puck along the left-wing boards and centered it, where Bergeron redirected it past Vokoun.
That set off a celebration in Boston – the first for the Bruins at home after they won the first two games of the series in Pittsburgh 3-0 and 6-1.
It is the first time all season that Pittsburgh has lost three consecutive games. The good news for the Penguins: The last of three teams to blow a 3-0 lead in an NHL playoff series was Boston, which lost four in a row to Philadelphia in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.
”We threw it at them tonight and didn’t get the win,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. ”But it’s a race to four and they are not there yet.”
After two Boston blowouts, the Penguins matched the Bruins and even outshot them 39-25 in regulation – including a third period in which Pittsburgh held a 14-4 advantage despite two Boston power plays. The Bruins didn’t muster a shot in the final 7 1/2 minutes of regulation.
But they had the better chances in overtime, including Nathan Horton’s breakaway that Vokoun turned aside just 2:21 in, and another shot by Horton that went off the right post with 12:25 on the clock.
Pittsburgh forced Rask to make a save with 5 minutes left in the first OT, when Craig Adams tried to poke home a rebound.
”I think the whole game we felt really comfortable with our play,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who has yet to record a goal or assist in the series. ”I think we felt like it was just a matter of time before we were going to get it. Unfortunately, they … hung around and got one at the end.”
The Bruins opened the scoring when Krejci circled around the net and took a slap shot that caromed in off Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen. But the Penguins tied it in the second – the first time in the series, other than 0-0, that they have been even – when Kunitz one-timed a pass from defenseman Paul Martin over Rask’s right shoulder.
Pittsburgh went 0 for 6 on power plays – including two in overtime. Boston was 0 for 5.