The Penguins fought back Wednesday night, but could not overcome the Boston Bruins and fell, 4-3, in an overtime shootout at Mellon Arena.
Playing without star Sidney Crosby, who missed the game with a sore groin, rookie Evgeni Malkin stepped up and scored a goal and set up another to help the Penguins salvage a point.
“It was probably his best game of the year all around. He was a real leader out there,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “He wanted to take charge because he knew that Sid was not there and he is an important part of our team. He played fantastic tonight. You could see his emotion was there and his work ethic was there. It’s a good sign.”
Mark Recchi got the Penguins on the scoreboard with 1:55 left in the first period. He picked up Rob Scuderi’s pass and skated into the Bruins’ zone on the near side. He snapped off a wicked wrister that sailed over Brian Finley’s right shoulder inside the far post.
Boston stormed back for three goals to grab a 3-1 lead over the Penguins at the second intermission.
Stanislav Chistov tied the game with 9:58 to play in the second period when he tallied a power-play goal for the Bruins.
Marco Sturm put Boston up, 2-1, when he scored on a 2-on-1 following a Penguins turnover.
Zdeno Chara rifled in a slap-shot for a power-play goal with 5:36 to go and a 3-1 Bruins advantage.
Malkin sparked the Penguins 10:02 into the third period. After coming out of the penalty box, he corralled Max Talbot’s clearing pass and broke in alone on goal. He rifled a shot past Tim Thomas, who replaced Finley in net to start the second period. It trimmed the Penguins’ deficit to 3-2.
“When I came out of the penalty box, I saw the puck was next to me and I took it and shot and scored the goal,” Malkin said through translator George Birman.
Malkin and Recchi teamed up for some late-game heroics with 30 seconds left in regulation. On the power play and with Marc-Andre Fleury pulled to give the Penguins a 6-on-4 situation, Ryan Whitney fed a pass to Malkin in the slot. He sent a no-look pass to Recchi on the near post. He backhanded the puck into the net to knot the game at 3-all.
“I think it’s not just, but the entire team – especially my entire line played great in the third period,” Malkin said. “We didn’t play good in the second period, but we just got together and came much stronger for the third period.”
“The guys showed a lot of character in the third period. That’s the positive thing. We didn’t quit,” Therrien added. “Our fans were unbelievable tonight to give us that energy we needed. I liked our effort in the third.”
Neither team scored in overtime. Sturm was the only player to score in the shootout as Boston earned the victory.
Despite the loss, Fleury stopped 28 of 31 shots and made several acrobatic saves at key times.
“Marc-Andre Fleury made some crucial saves to give us a chance to stay in the game because we were pressing a lot,” Therrien said.
The Penguins return to action Friday at New York against the Islanders at 2 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Chris Thorburn, Eric Cairns, Andre Roy and Sidney Crosby were the Penguins’ scratches…Jason York and Milan Jurcina were the Bruins’ scratches…The announced attendance was 16,958…Patrice Bergeron (No. 1), Mark Recchi (No. 2) and Evgeni Malkin (No. 3) were the three stars.