The Pittsburgh Penguins are now the cardiac kids of the NHL. For the fifth straight game, the Pittsburgh Penguins faced a third period deficit. This time, Penguins second-year-pro John Marino created a Boston Bruins turnover, which set the Penguins in motion. New Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen streaked behind the Boston defense and scored the game-tying goal with just three minutes remaining.
For the fourth time in five games, the Penguins went to overtime.
Bryan Rust couldn’t get free to shoot on a contested breakaway. Evgeni Malkin hit the crossbar on a breakaway, too. Malkin and Penguins defenseman Kris Letang squandered a two-on-none without a shot. With just 10 seconds remaining in overtime, David Krejci and Craig Smith did convert a two-on-none as Smith slipped the puck underneath Tristan Jarry and the Boston Bruins beat the Penguins 3-2 in OT.
The Penguins four-game win streak ended, but they have points in five straight.
“I do feel that we’re getting our legs. I like the way we’re playing the last few games,” Jason Zucker said. “We came back to get that point, (but) it was disappointing to end the way it did in overtime. I think that was a good solid effort tonight.”
The Penguins’ comeback began in the middle of the third period.
After six power-play attempts, the Penguins needed a little (bad) luck to get their first goal. In the middle of the third period, the Penguins’ second power-play unit peppered goalie Tuuka Rask. Seconds after the Penguins’ advantage expired, a hobbled Rask could not regain his feet, and Zucker (1) snapped the puck into the mostly open net.
Rask stayed in the game, and rookie Drew O’Connor got his first point with an assist on the goal.
Late in the third period, Kasperi Kapanen (1) raced around the Boston defense and slipped his breakaway beneath Rask’s pad.
“…I was just trying to take it to the net. I feel like I got hooked a bit there,” Kapanen said. “I think that threw Rask off. I’m not complaining. I’ll take it.”
Kapanen has five points in his last six games against Boston. The first five games were in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.
The Penguins had early chances to stake a claim against Boston, where they have lost their last eight (0-7-1). Rust resumed his torrid play with a breakaway, and the Penguins zipped shots near the Boston net, but none lit the lamp. In the end, the Penguins had just six shots on goal.
Midway through the first period, the Penguins seemed to have a chance to convert their momentum with a power play. However, Jared McCann couldn’t control the puck at the offensive blue line, the Boston PK quickly transitioned, Brad Marchand (4) cut to the middle in front of Kris Letang, and his 25-foot shot against the grain eluded Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.
Boston statistically owned the remaining 12 minutes of the period and earned nearly 70% of shot attempts and 60% of the scoring chances. All stats according to NaturalStatTrick.com
The Penguins didn’t find their stride in the second period, either. Despite a couple of power plays, the Penguins effectively killed those for Boston before the hockey gods took a few chances back.
Six minutes into the second period, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ self-destruct sequence began. A bad cross-ice pass by Jason Zucker quickly became a Boston rush followed by a Chad Ruhwedel hooking penalty. Then, 36 seconds after Ruhwedel hooked Trent Frederick, Brandon Tanev’s attempt to poke check Brad Marchand was met with a Marchand dive and Tanev tripping penalty.
The Penguins couldn’t complain too loudly because their third power play was drawn by Mark Jankowski, who grabbed Patrice Bergeron’s stick to make it look like Bergeron hooked him.
Give and take. And Boston took.
With the 5v3, Nick Ritchie (3) slammed the backdoor pass into a yawning cage, and Boston led 2-0.
Rust’s chances continued in the second period, but Boston goalie Tuukka Rask seemed to have a trapper with a three-foot diameter.
In the first 40 minutes, the Penguins failed to generate much pressure despite five power plays. In fact, the Penguins generated just five shots with the man-advantage.
Evgeni Malkin assisted on Kapanen’s game-tying goal. The assist tied him with Jaromir Jagr for third on the franchise’s all-time scoring list.
The injury bug again bit the left side of the Pittsburgh Penguins defense. With Mike Matheson, Marcus Pettersson, and Juuso Riikola already injured, Brian Dumoulin missed the third period after attempting to block a shot at the end of the second period.
“it was definitely tough, especially when you lose a good defenseman like Dumoulin,” Jarry said. “It’s tough when we’re playing down (one defenseman). The goal for me is just to cover the puck as much as I can, give them a break, and make sure our D stays as fresh as possible.”
Jarry stopped 30 of 32 shots in regulation. Rask stopped 27 of 29. Rask stopped all seven Penguins shots in OT.