Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 6-4 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.
* The Penguins deserved better. That was the sentiment in the room. That was the sentiment from the coaches. And it's hard to argue against.
The Penguins really did deserve better. They deserved at least one point. But really, they deserved two. Pittsburgh should have won this game. Pittsburgh deserved this win.
And what a statement it would have been to beat the Boston Bruins, the reigning Eastern Conference champion with the most formidable line in all of hockey, on the road. And doing so after trailing 3-0.
Bryan Rust told me before the game: "We're going to have to come out hard and show what we got."
The Penguins showed what they had, especially in the second period. After falling down 3-0, the prospects of winning the game seemed slim. Actually, they seemed extinct. Many teams would have folded at that point and crumbled.
The Penguins punched back.
They scored four goals in the middle frame against a team that hardly gives up four goal in an entire game, let alone in a single 20-minute sequence. And from the most unlikely of sources: Dominik Kahun, Nick Bjugstad, Bryan Rust, John Marino.
It was the secondary scoring that chipped in to flip the 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 advantage. Pittsburgh dominated the play and outshot the Bruins 25-12 after two periods. The Penguins would hold the edge, 44-26, when it was all over. But not the edge in goals.
The Penguins will grow from this loss, from the sting of outplaying arguably the best team in the league and coming up short. They learned that they are never out of any game, no matter the place, no matter the opponent. And most important, they learned that they can beat any team, anywhere.
And the Penguins will be stronger in the end because of those lessons.
* The story of this one is rookie defenseman Marino, who scored his first NHL goal in his hometown of Boston. Add in the fact that he had 40-plus family and friends in attendance and it makes it more meaningful. But also add in that he scored on a breakaway with just 2.6 seconds left in the period and it makes it all the more sweeter.
* Facing the Bruins is hard enough as is. But Pittsburgh had to do so without their top defenseman when Kris Letang suffered a lower-body injury in the third period. He did not return and is currently being evaluated.
* The Penguins scored some beautiful goals. But some of the passes were equally, if not more, impressive. Letang sliced a laser breakout pass to Nick Bjugstad, who would score on a breakaway. Evgeni Malkin collected a pass, gained the blue line, slammed on the breaks, made a spin-o-rama backhand pass to a streaking Bryan Rust, who cruised in for a breakaway and scored.
* Kahun continues to be amazing. He was a healthy scratch in the Penguins' previous game, but wasn't down about it. Even though he had four points (2G-2A) in the previous two games. So after missing a game as a healthy scratch, he returned to the lineup and scored a goal in his third consecutive game played to start the Penguins' comeback march.
* Good for Bjugstad to get on the board. He's been struggling to score, and has really been working hard to try and make that happen. Finally, he was rewarded for that effort.