By: Jeremy Perrigo
The Pittsburgh Penguins traveled to Boston on Black Friday, in search of scoring after putting up 45 shots Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks in a 5-2 loss. The Bruins went into Thanksgiving on a high note, defeating the New Jersey Devils in a 3-2 shootout win. The team has been riding netminder Anton Khudobin through a three-game winning streak that began in Southern California. The Boston backup would start his 4th-consecutive game as the B’s looked to build on recent success.
Boston started the game strong, buzzing the Pittsburgh end. Patric Hornqvist took a penalty early for tripping on David Pastrnak, allowing the Bruins to build off their early momentum on the power play
Not long after the odd-man opportunity expired Boston broke open the scoring when Peter Cehlarik found Jake DeBrusk who fired a pass cross-ice, left-to-right, to David Krejci who beat goaltender Matt Murray with a quick release 6:13 into the period.
Less than five minutes later the Bruins would strike again, this time on a strong individual effort from Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy charged down the right wall of the Penguins’ zone, behind the net, before emerging on the left side of the zone. He then layed a perfect pass across to Sean Kuraly who wasted no time in blowing the feed past Murray from the top of the right circle.
Pittsburgh would get a chance on the power play with 44 seconds left in the period as Krejci was called for hooking on Matt Hunwick. However, the Penguins failed to convert, and the score would remain the same, 2-0 heading into the second.
Boston outshot Pittsburgh 14-4 and won 70.6% of faceoffs. A dominating first 20 minutes for the home team.
Pittsburgh made good on the remainder of their power play when forward Jake Guentzel found himself on the receiving end of quick passes from Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby who found him back-door, staring at an empty net just 1:02 into the period.
While it looked like Pittsburgh was beginning to gain momentum off of their power play goal, it Boston would be the team to strike next. A faceoff in the Penguins’ end to the right of Murray would be won back by Krejci, the same man who seconds later would whiff on a shot from the point that dribbled to Matt Grzelcyk who was able to sneak a shot past Murray for his first career NHL goal, 10:31 into the period.
The Penguins would fight back when Phil Kessel received a pass from Riley Sheahan and fired a shot over the left shoulder of Khudobin to cut the Bruin lead down to one with 5:53 left in the period.
Pittsburgh would then tie the game with 2:16 left in the period off a controversial play from Crosby in front of the Bruin net. Khudobin knocked down a shot with his blocker that fell onto his body as he spun around in the crease.
Crosby took multiple whacks at the puck before forcing it across the goal line. The play would be whistled down prior to the puck entering the net, however it would be called a good goal regardless. Boston challenged the play for goaltender interference, but lost the call and their timeout in the process.
If you want the league's explanation of the play, you can read it here.
Boston outshot Pittsburgh 14-8 in the period, winning 60.5% of faceoffs through 40 minutes.
With 5:06 gone in the third Period, Pastrnak received a pass from Riley Nash through the neutral zone, sending him down on Murray where he beat the Pittsburgh goaltender with a quick shot low glove-side.
There would be no other goals in the period despite a strong push from the Penguins with the goaltender pulled in the final minutes of the game that nearly sent the two teams to overtime. Anton Khudobin came up big at the last second, turning away one final attempt, before Boston was able to run the clock out.
Final Score: Boston 4 / Pittsburgh 3
Pittsburgh outshot Boston 8-5 in the third period despite the Bruins having the only goal. Boston took the majority of the shots in the game 33-20.
Next Game: Sunday at 5pm EST vs. Edmonton
Boston started out strong against Pittsburgh scoring the only two goals of the first period. Despite the Penguins' average record to start this season, you had to expect that the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions would not be willing to lay down and handover two points to the B’s.
Sure enough Pittsburgh fought back from two two-goal deficits to tie the game with goals from star players Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel, along with young stud Jake Guentzel.
Despite the hard-fought comeback from the Penguins, the Bruins were able to maintain composure and regain the lead one final time. This was probably the most impressive part of their victory.
Anton Khudobin had another strong performance, and while he may have not been the biggest reason why his team hung on to win, it would not be surprising if Bruce Cassidy starts him for a 5th consecutive time against the struggling Edmonton Oilers Sunday.
Boston has seemed to turn a corner on this winning streak they have put together, propelling the themselves to 3rd in the Atlantic Division. Although it is too early to tell if the impressive play will maintain, it is encouraging to see nonetheless.