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Aftermath: Penguins 6, Bruins 4

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
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Bylsma | Crosby | Kunitz | Garon
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The Penguins exploded for four goals in the third period to flip a 3-2 deficit into a 6-4 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins. It was a back-and-forth affair, the game had five lead changes, but the Penguins prevailed in the end.

The Penguins’ power play and offense really stepped up against the No. 1-ranked defense in the league. They scored two man-advantage goals and put five pucks behind goalie Tim Thomas – who entered the game with the best goals against average and save percentage in the league. Pittsburgh is overflowing with confidence. The Penguins believe they can beat anybody right now and they’re playing that way.

The quick chemistry on the top line between Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin has been tremendous. The trio looks like they’ve been playing together for years. They anticipate what each other will do with the puck (read below about Pittsburgh’s fourth goal) and they finish each other’s plays. The three players combined for three goals and six assists for nine points.
(AP) - Sergei Gonchar and Chris Kunitz scored 18 seconds apart early in the third period, Petr Sykora got the game-winner later in the period and the Pittsburgh Penguins gained a valuable victory in the Eastern Conference race, beating Boston 6-4 on Sunday.

The Penguins rallied from deficits of 3-2 and 2-1 to beat the conference-leading Bruins for only the second time in six games and moved ahead of idle Montreal into fifth place in the crowded standings. The Penguins picked up at least one point for the 10th consecutive game, going 8-0-2 during a run that began with a seven-game winning streak.
Pos. Team GP Record Pts
4. Philadelphia 68 37-21-10 84
5. Pittsburgh 71 37-26-8 82
6. Montreal 69 36-25-8 80
7. NY Rangers 70 36-26-8 80
8. Carolina 71 36-28-7 79
9. Florida 69 34-25-10 78
10. Buffalo 69 34-27-8 76

Team Notables:
Buffalo: Off day - Plays at Ottawa, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Carolina: Off day - Hosts New Jersey, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Florida: Off day - Hosts Washington, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Montreal: Off day - Hosts NY Rangers, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
NY Rangers: Defeated Philadelphia, 4-1
Philadelphia: Lost at NY Rangers, 4-1

Eddie Johnston was honored before the game for his 25 years of service with the Penguins' organization. He stands with his wife, Diane, and Mario Lemieux (photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Power Play
The Penguins power play broke through against Boston and helped the team defeat the Bruins. Pittsburgh netted two power-play scores, including the game-tying goal early in the third period.

What Could Have Gone Better: Face Offs
It’s difficult to be nit-picking things when the Penguins pulled off a dramatic comeback victory over the top team in the East. The only area that Pittsburgh could improve upon was its work in the faceoff circle. The Bruins won 60 percent of the draws. But Pittsburgh has done much better lately in faceoffs, buoyed by Sidney Crosby’s recent tear. 
Chris Kunitz has had an immediate impact since being acquired by Pittsburgh. He came up big against Boston to help the Penguins knock off the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins. Kunitz tallied two goals and an assist for a three-point game. He appeared to score two goals in the first 1:01 of the third period to net a hat trick. However, after review one of the goals was awarded to Sergei Gonchar. Either way, Kunitz was where he needed to be, in front of the net causing havoc. He had three shots and four hits in the game. Kunitz also showed some guts by going after Boston big man Zdeno Chara.

HONORABLE MENTION: Bill Guerin (1G-2A), Sidney Crosby (3A).
The Penguins struck first just 50 seconds into the game. Sidney Crosby had the puck behind the Boston goal and made an accurate pass through three Bruins to Bill Guerin, who was between the hash marks. Guerin one-timed a shot behind Tim Thomas for the goal. Pittsburgh 1, Boston 0.

Boston tied the game a mere 16 seconds later on Mark Recchi’s 16th score of the year. There was a scrum in the far corner of the Penguins zone. The puck trickled out to the midpoint. Mark Stuart laid into a slap shot that Recchi re-directed into the net. Pittsburgh 1, Boston 1.

Boston took the lead halfway through the first period. The Bruins took a shot on net. The puck hit Marc Savard in the back. Blake Wheeler collected the puck and made a cross-ice feed to Phil Kessel, who sneaked up ice undetected. Kessel buried the shot against a helpless Mathieu Garon. Boston 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Pittsburgh tied the game with a five-on-three score late in the first period. Dennis Wideman and Steve Montador both serving penalties for Boston. Guerin tried a cross-crease pass to Crosby. Thomas came sliding over but Crosby didn’t shoot it. He patiently curled the puck around Thomas and sent it towards the goal. The shot hit Chris Kunitz’s skate before crossing the goal line so Kunitz was credited with the goal. Pittsburgh 2, Boston 2.

The Bruins retook the lead with a shorthanded score in the second period. The Penguins turned the puck over at the Boston blue line and the Bruins charged the other way. Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar were fighting for the puck in the near corner of the Pittsburgh zone when David Krejci gained possession. He fed Wheeler atop the crease for the shorthanded score. Boston 3, Pittsburgh 2.

The Penguins tied the game with their second power-play goal of the game. Gonchar sent a slap shot towards the goal from the far point. It hit some bodies in front of the net and deflected into the net. The goal was initially awarded to Kunitz but was changed after a review determined he hadn’t touched the puck. Pittsburgh 3, Boston 3.

Just 18 seconds after Pittsburgh tied the game, Kunitz gave them the lead with his second goal of the game. He blocked a shot near the Penguins blue line. The deflected puck caromed right to Guerin and Kunitz immediately took off up ice. Guerin’s pass gave Kunitz a breakaway and the Penguins forward went five-hole. Pittsburgh 4, Boston 3.

It was a back-and-forth battle and the Bruins tied it up with their own power-play score. Boston’s Michael Ryder had the puck in the far dot. He unleashed a shot that eluded Garon. Pittsburgh 4, Boston 4.

Petr Sykora gave Pittsburgh the lead halfway through the third period with his 24th goal of the season. Jordan Staal made the play. He used his body to protect the puck while skating deep in the Boston zone. He threw a beautiful backhand pass to Sykora in the high slot. Sykora one-timed the shot far side on Thomas. Pittsburgh 5, Boston 4.

Staal finished off the Bruins with an empty-net goal with 56.2 seconds left in the game. He picked off a pass in the Pittsburgh zone, skated out of the zone and threw the puck into the vacant cage. Pittsburgh 6, Boston 4.
Jordan Staal played an inspired game. He made an incredible play to setup the Penguins’ game-winning goal. Staal used his strong legs and long reach to shield the puck from defenders and made a pretty pass to Petr Sykora in the high slot for the score. Staal also played extremely well defensively. He read the Bruins’ passing scheme, intercepted the puck and netted an empty-net goal to cap the game.
> Pittsburgh improved its record to 37-26-8 on the year, with a 19-11-3 mark at Mellon Arena, and hasn’t lost in regulation in its last 10 games (8-0-2).

> Pittsburgh is 10-1-3 since Dan Bylsma was named interim head coach.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, B.Guerin (18), 0:50 1st period: Penguins 1, Bruins 0
BOS, M.Recchi (16), 1:06 1st period: Penguins 1, Bruins 1
BOS, P.Kessel (31), 10:16 1st period: Bruins 2, Penguins 1
PIT, C.Kunitz PP (20), 16:04 1st period: Penguins 2, Bruins 2
BOS, B.Wheeler SH (18), 10:31 2nd period: Bruins 3, Penguins 2
PIT, S.Gonchar PP (5), 0:43 3rd period: Penguins 3, Bruins 3
PIT, C.Kunitz (21), 1:01 3rd period: Penguins 4, Bruins 3
BOS, M.Ryder PP (24), 2:54 3rd period: Penguins 4, Bruins 4
PIT, P.Sykora (24), 9:29 3rd period: Penguins 5, Bruins 4
PIT, J.Staal (19), 19:03 3rd period: Penguins 6, Bruins 4

> Evgeni Malkin was scoreless against Boston but still leads the NHL in scoring with 97 points (30G-67A). Malkin’s 67 assists are a league-best and a new single-season career high. He has tallied 30-plus goals in three straight seasons.

> Sidney Crosby tallied three assists against the Bruins. He is second in the league in scoring with 90 points (27G-63A) and his 63 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 67. Crosby has a 10-game scoring streak, tallying 18 points (6G-12A) over that span.

> Mathieu Garon saw his first game action three weeks and first start in over a month. Garon turned aside 21 shots to get his first victory as a Penguin.

> Chris Kunitz recorded three points (two goals, one assist) against Boston. He has tallied points in nine of his last 11 games for 13 points (6G-7A). 

> Bill Guerin registered a goal and two assists against Boston for a three-point game. He has eight points (2G-6A) since being acquired by Pittsburgh.

> Jordan Staal notched a goal and an assist against the Bruins. He has collected eight points in his last nine games (4G-4A).

> The Penguins honored Eddie Johnston prior to the game for his 25 years of service to the Penguins organization.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 100th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,132. Pittsburgh is 63-28-9 in during that span.
1. C.Kunitz, PIT
2. B.Guerin, PIT
3. S.Crosby, PIT
"He's a bulldog out there. He goes hard to the corners and he goes
to the net. That's Chris Kunitz's game. That's what we can
expect from him. He certainly delivered today. "
- Interim Head Coach Dan Bylsma


Author: Sam Kasan

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