With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup, the Pittsburgh Penguins are a little short in the skill department. Their work ethic, however, is just fine – and it’s more than keeping them afloat in the playoff race..
Dustin Jeffrey, one of Pittsburgh’s numerous minor-league call-ups scored his second goal of the game 1:52 into OT and the Penguins snapped the Bruins' winning streak at seven with a 3-2 decision on Saturday night.
“I was cutting across and wanted to get it up,” Jeffrey said. “It ended up going through.”
The Penguins were the ones moving up – they closed within two points of Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division races.
"I just think it shows our team character," Jeffrey said. "We talk about the losses, but we're getting points, even if they're overtime losses. We're keeping pace and we're two points behind the conference leader. With 16 or 17 games left, it's something that we can reach."
Pittsburgh was again without Crosby, who missed his 26th game with a concussion, as well as Malkin, No. 3 scorer Chris Kunitz and several other injured regulars, but Fleury kept the Penguins in it. Boston outshot Pittsburgh 7-2 early, getting a few good scoring chances.
"As we've said all year, we have a standard of the way we want to play," forward Matt Cooke said. "It doesn't matter if it's Sid and Geno (Malkin) or it's (Craig Adams) and Dusty (Jeffrey), we want to play that way. We want to model our team around a certain standard, and we've done that successfully. That's our focus."
The Penguins were closing in on their first regulation win since Feb. 4 before David Krejci got the Bruins even at 2 when he scored with 33 seconds left in regulation after Thomas had been pulled for an extra skater.
Zdeno Chara had the other goal for Boston, which was on its longest winning streak since a 10-game run from Dec. 12, 2008 to Jan. 1, 2009. Thomas made 37 saves.
Jeffrey recently returned after missing six games with an undisclosed lower-body injury. He has 7 goals in 18 games this season.
The Penguins’ hard work in the absence of their stars impressed Thomas.
"They've been less offensive, obviously, without Sidney, but they played a very good game," Thomas said. "They're playing very well together. They're big, they're strong and they did a good job of keeping the puck in."
Krejci tied it with a wrist shot from the slot after he took a feed from Nathan Horton. The goal came seconds after Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle blocked Cooke's shot at the empty net.
"When you work hard you get rewarded," Boston coach Claude Julien said of the Penguins. "They got a break and got the puck in the net."
Boston took a 1-0 lead on Chara's goal 7:26 into the second period. Krejci made a soft backhand pass from the boards to Chara, who moved into the high slot as the trailer and beat Fleury with a rising wrist shot through a screen. It was his first goal since he had a hat trick against Carolina on Jan. 17.
Pittsburgh tied it at 10:09, just seconds after Fleury made a nice save on Johnny Boychuk's rocket from the point. Staal finished a 2-on-1 break with Tyler Kennedy by slipping the puck behind Thomas, who had moved across to try to cut down Kennedy's angle.
Just 70 seconds later, the Penguins made it 2-1 on Jeffrey's first goal.
"We've been battling hard in games and maybe not getting the two points and coming out on the back end on some overtimes," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Tonight, getting down early in the game and responding right away with the goal ... and then to keep going and get the lead."
The teams split the four-game season series – with the road team winning all four.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report