PITTSBURGH -- Rookie forward Frank Vatrano's first NHL hat trick helped the Boston Bruins defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second time in three days, 6-2 at Consol Energy Center on Friday.
Vatrano tied the game 1-1 midway through the first period, then scored twice in a three-minute span in the third. He has five goals in 17 games since being called up from the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League last month.
It had been nine games since Vatrano scored; his last goal came against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 25.
"There's always relief when you're not getting points or scoring goals. It's awesome to finally get rewarded,” Vatrano said. “You work hard to score goals and sometimes you work even harder than you do some nights and they don't go in. So, a night like tonight, it's awesome to get rewarded. That's just how goal-scoring is sometimes. Sometimes you'll go 10 games without a goal and then they can just come in bunches. I'm glad it finally came because I was getting a little impatient."
The Bruins broke a 2-2 tie at 9:39 of the second period, 17 seconds into their first power play. Pittsburgh goaltender Jeff Zatkoff made a pad save on Ryan Spooner's shot, but Loui Eriksson whacked the puck off his pads twice before sneaking a shot through the five-hole for his 12th goal.
With the teams playing 4-on-4, Patrice Bergeron scored his second goal of the game 35 seconds into the third period to make it 4-2. Vatrano made it 5-2 with 7:42 remaining, then backhanded his own rebound past Zatkoff with 4:42 left to complete the hat trick.
Boston (18-9-4) swept a home-and home series against Pittsburgh (15-13-3) to keep the Penguins from earning their first win in three games under new coach Mike Sullivan. The Bruins won 3-0 at TD Garden on Wednesday and are 10-1-3 in their past 14 games.
"We talked before this two-game series that we needed a big two games and to kind of keep pushing teams down that are below us,” Bergeron said. “Pittsburgh is one of those teams, and they're one of those that we knew they were going to give us a big push tonight. They're playing some desperate hockey, and I thought we weathered the storm pretty well and got back in the game. Then from there, the third [period]; I thought we controlled the third."
The Penguins have been outscored 13-3 under Sullivan.
“For me, I’m not interested in pointing fingers at where it falls. It falls on all of us,” Sullivan said. “It starts with me. And so, we all have to be resilient. We all have to have some resolve. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of doubters out there right now. And I believe. I believe we can pull this group together.”
The Penguins host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
Pittsburgh was awarded the game's first three power plays, including two in the first period on which the Penguins failed to get a shot on goal.
The Penguins did get three shots on their third power play, early in the second period, but allowed a shorthanded goal by Bergeron to fall behind 2-1. Zatkoff turned the puck over to Brad Marchand, who slipped a pass to Bergeron for a wrist shot over the goaltender's right pad at 1:03.
Defenseman Trevor Daley, acquired by the Penguins earlier this week from the Chicago Blackhawks, tied the game 2-2 at 2:39, five seconds after the penalty to Kevan Miller expired. His slap shot went through a screen provided by forward Chris Kunitz and past goaltender Tuukka Rask. The goal was Daley's first since scoring in consecutive games with the Dallas Stars against the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 19 and the Red Wings on Feb. 21 of last season.
Forward Conor Sheary's first NHL goal gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead 8:20 into the first period. Kunitz hit Bergeron to force a turnover to Sidney Crosby behind the net, and Crosby centered to Sheary for a one-timer over Rask's glove.
Sheary said he appreciates having his first goal set up by Crosby.
“That’s going to be a pretty good memory for me,” Sheary said. “Playing with a guy like that, you’re going to want to give him the puck because you know he can make plays. I just tried to stick to my own game and play my own game, and play hard.”
Vatrano, Sheary's former teammate at the University of Massachusetts, tied the game 1:43 later.
"Conor's a good friend of mine,” Vatrano said. “I lived with him for a year at UMass. It was eight guys, so it was good seeing him. He's obviously been doing really well down in Wilkes-Barre [the Penguins’ AHL team]. For him to get called up, it's awesome for him and he had a great game. So I'm proud of him."