NHL Playoff Game Day 35: Penguins-Bruins


Why Boston Won: For most of the night, the Penguins were at least the equal of the Bruins, but Boston took a commanding 3-0 series lead by exhibiting the same veteran calm that has carried them through the first two rounds – and also by depending on goaltender Tuukka Rask to sustain them through an onslaught of Penguins shots (Pittsburgh fired 54 shots at Rask, while Tomas Vokoun faced 40 Pittsburgh shots through nearly 76 minutes of hockey) until Patrice Bergeron scored at 15:19 of the second overtime to push the Pens to the brink of elimination.

Why Pittsburgh Lost: Yet again, the Penguins offense failed to find any cracks in the foundation of the brick wall Rask played like. They now have two goals in three games and have to be worried when a ferocious rebound performance by Evgeni Malkin still doesn’t result in any offense for the skilled Russian. Sidney Crosby was solid in the faceoff circle, but also couldn’t register a point for the third straight game. And when complementary players such as James Neal and Jarome Iginla aren’t chipping in, this Pens team has to depend on its defense. That’s just not how they’re going to win at this stage of the post-season.

Play of the Game: The officiating once again was highly questionable, particularly when regulation time ended and overtime began. So it was apt that the game-winner began on what should have been a Jaromir Jagr hooking penalty on Malkin. Instead, Jagr’s mugging turned into a Brad Marchand pass that Bergeron tipped in. The scoring play took skill, but its genesis was another example of how the officials allow virtually anything to happen in the heat of the post-season.

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Three Stars

1. Tuukka Rask: Although he had a ton of help from star defenseman Zdeno Chara, the Bruins goalie was phenomenal all game long and kept the Penguins at bay when they gained confidence in the third period (outshooting Boston 14-4). But you can tell Rask has a high level of confidence in himself right now.

2. Tomas Vokoun: The Pens netminder once again was an adventure at times during the game, roaming and sliding and lurching around. However, he made 38 saves and gave Pittsburgh a good chance to win. They just didn’t support him with enough offense.

3. Zdeno Chara: The massive blueliner logged 42:05 of ice time and was a plus-2 on the night. Yes, David Krejci has been a standout for Boston on offense, but Chara has been their MVP this series.

What's Next: With only a day off before Game 4 is played Friday in Beantown, both teams will need to regroup quickly. The Penguins have to be emotionally spent, but there’s enough veteran character on this team to expect them to come out fighting tooth and nail and avoid a humiliating sweep. The Bruins, on the other hand, have earned themselves a little breathing room. Pittsburgh has the superstar talent to spur on a series  comeback, but Boston is firing on all pistons and has proven themselves able to make the least amount of mistakes most nights. Defense wins championships, and the Bruins are just better at it than the Pens.