Even without NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins have returned to their winning ways.
Five days after giving up four goals in the final 3:23 to hand a victory to Boston, the Penguins recovered from blowing another two-goal lead to beat Boston 3-2 and win without Crosby for the second consecutive game.
”I definitely like the fact that we refocused” after falling behind 2-0, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. ”It was 15 (or) 20 seconds of hockey that got them back in the game. We had some scrambles in front, but held on to get the win. It was a big two points for us.”
Jordan Staal scored with 16:35 left in the third period, and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 44 shots for his 20th win of the season. Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis also scored for the Penguins, who lost their first three games after Crosby was injured, but have now beaten two of those teams — Montreal and Boston — in rematches.
”They put that in the back of their minds before the game,” Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. ”I know I would.”
Tuukka Rask made 33 saves for the Bruins, and Dennis Seidenberg and Michael Ryder scored 13 seconds apart in the second period to erase a 2-0 deficit.
But Staal backhanded a loose puck in front past Rask to make it 3-2.
”It’s one of those games you want to step up and win the game for your team because they played so well,” Rask said. ”It’s a tough loss to swallow, at least for me. I think nobody’s happy here right now.”
Crosby was sidelined after taking hits to the head in back-to-back games on Jan. 1 against Washington in the Winter Classic and Jan. 5 against Tampa Bay. Bylsma said Friday that Crosby was progressing, but isn’t ready to resume practicing or playing; he won’t be allowed to return to the ice until he is symptom-free.
Still, Crosby remains the NHL’s leading scorer with 66 points. He also entered the day tied with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the league lead with 32 goals.
The Bruins beat the Penguins in each of their previous games this season, both times in Pittsburgh and both times with late rallies. On Nov. 19, Boston scored five times in the third period to win 7-4. On Monday, with Crosby out, the Bruins scored four unanswered goals down the stretch to win 4-2.
This one started out the same way, with Pittsburgh opening a 2-0 lead and the Bruins tying it with a pair 13 seconds apart from Dennis Seidenberg and Michael Ryder. The Penguins called timeout, and this time they didn’t just roll over.
Staal’s goal gave the Penguins the lead, and Fleury stopped 20 shots in the third period, including about a half-dozen from close-range in the final minute after Boston pulled Rask for an extra skater.
”Guys, there’s times when you lose a game,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ”I’m convinced if we played the first half of the game the way we played the last, we wouldn’t be sitting here.”
Kunitz opened the scoring for the Penguins midway through the first, and Dupuis added his goal 41 seconds into the middle period.
Seidenberg put a screened shot past Fleury 11:28 into the second period, and the Bruins tied it 13 seconds later when Ryder wristed one around a defender and past the goalie on stick side. It’s the second-fastest the Bruins have scored a pair of goals this season.
Pittsburgh killed a four-minute high-sticking minor in the second period even though it appeared to be Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara’s stick that hit teammate Steven Kampfer in the face. Kampfer departed, leaving a pool of blood on the ice, and didn’t return.
Julien said Kampfer had a broken nose. The Bruins didn’t get a shot off in the penalty until there were just four seconds left.