By Dan Scifo
From the Point Contributor
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins played the game they wanted to play against the Boston Bruins.
They just didn’t catch the breaks they needed.
The Penguins, outshot Boston by a near-two-to-one margin, hit several posts and had a number of close calls that went to video review, including one disallowed goal.
But Patrice Bergeron’s game-winner at 2:43 of the overtime period, which also needed a lengthy video review to stand, proved to be the game-winner, leading the Bruins to a 3-2 victory against the Penguins during a nationally-televised game Wednesday at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
“Just a little bit of bad luck,” Penguins’ center Evgeni Malkin said. “But I think we played hard… just not enough to win.”
Bergeron scored his ninth and 10th of the season, but the last one was the most important for the Bruins, who needed overtime for the eighth time in 12 games, including the previous four.
Bergeron’s stick caught a piece of Milan Lucic’s wrist shot from the point and floated over Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoulder with 2:17 left. It was determined the puck hit Bergeron’s stick below the cross-bar, giving Boston the win.
“I think when it’s called a goal on the ice, it’s pretty tough to overturn,” Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby said. “With high sticks, it’s pretty difficult and it really could’ve gone either way.”
Zdeno Chara scored his third for the Bruins, who avoided a season-worst fourth straight loss. Boston, with six wins in its past 17 games, won for the fourth time in 13 road games.
Tuukka Rask also stopped 37 shots for Boston as each of the last eight games and 11 of the previous 14 between the Penguins and Bruins have been decided by one goal.
Malkin scored his 18th of the season and Beau Bennett his second for the Penguins, who have just two wins in their last eight games. Fleury stopped 21 shots.
Boston led, 2-1, after two periods, but Malkin tied it 15 seconds into the third with a slap shot over Rask’s shoulder during a rush down the left wing.
Pittsburgh nearly jumped ahead during a power play less than two minutes later but Crosby rung a shot off the post. Penguins’ D Christian Ehrhoff later hit the crossbar with a little more than four minutes left in the third and Bennett another post in overtime when he whacked a rebound from mid-air.
“I think anytime you’re carrying the play, you want to make sure you get the lead,” Crosby said. “We did some good things offensively, but unfortunately we didn’t get the next one.”
The Penguins are starting to find their way again after a rash of injuries and a mumps outbreak in December.
They acquired David Perron last week from the Edmonton Oilers, believing he fits the mold of a top-six winger the team has long desired to play alongside Crosby and Malkin. Perron, coming off a career year of 28 goals and 57 points in Edmonton, is off to a good start, scoring in his debut Saturday against Montreal. He had five shots and was a minus-1 in 20:10 of ice time on Wednesday.
They also got Paul Martin back to stabilize the defense after the veteran missed the last eight games with an undisclosed injury.
“We’re starting to get some bodies back,” Crosby said. “You want to make sure you’re playing well so guys can come back in the lineup and feel comfortable. It’s something we’re building towards.”
Boston entered the game outside the playoff picture, sitting fifth in the Atlantic Division.
Owner Jeremy Jacobs recently stepped down as CEO of Delaware North, the group that controls the Bruins and TD Garden and gave control to his son, Charlie. He called the Bruins’ play unacceptable given the amount of time, money and effort spent on the team, which has reached the playoffs the last seven seasons, winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reaching the finals in 2013.
Wednesday’s win against Pittsburgh was a step in the right direction.
The Penguins entered the game with wins in eight of the last 10 regular-season games against Boston – and four straight in Pittsburgh – but the Bruins won for the seventh time in nine overall meetings, including a sweep in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals.
“It’s always nice to win, especially right now,” Chara said. “We need those points.”
Bennett opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game.
Rask followed Makin to the right post, and Malkin dished a blind-side backhand pass to the left post where a wide open Bennett tucked it across the line.
Chara tied it with 2:03 left in the first, rocketing a slap shot to the top-left corner of the net.
Pittsburgh nearly went ahead on separate occasions, a Perron attempt, which needed a video review that proved inconclusive and a Craig Adams goal disallowed because of incidental contact with Rask.
The Penguins continued to control the play, but Boston scored the next goal on just its 12th shot.
Fleury poke-checked Lucic’s centering pass to Bergeron, who fired a shot to the top corner, putting Boston ahead after two periods.
Another break in the overtime was enough to give Boston the win.
“Obviously, we’d like to get that extra point, but we had a number of chances that unfortunately didn’t go in for us,” Crosby said. “They ended up getting the bounce late.”
NOTES: Boston played its first game in Pittsburgh in more than 14 months … Malkin has points in 11 of the last 13 games against Boston. … Pittsburgh is back in action Saturday at Montreal.