Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the Boston Bruins at PPG Paints Arena.
* Things looked dire at the start. Boston needed all of 11 seconds to take an early 1-0 lead (Patrice Bergeron). Two minutes later, the Bruins had a 2-0 lead (Anders Bjork). Late in the third Boston took a 3-0 lead with a fluke score (David Pastrnak).
To add to the challenge, Boston was 200-1-6 when leading by three goals since 2010-11.
The Penguins didn't slump their shoulders and submit. They fought back. It's been a brutal schedule with 11 games in 20 days, and many overtime affairs. Pittsburgh's fatigue showed early. But they rallied.
A late first-period goal from Dominik Simon. A second-period goal from Teddy Blueger. And an early third-period goal from Jack Johnson. The Penguins chipped away, chipped away and then evened the score.
The comeback was complete after Evgeni Malkin muscled Charlie McAvoy off the puck behind the Bruins net and found Bryan Rust for the go-ahead goal. Pittsburgh scored four unanswered goals to flip a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead.
The Bruins are now 200-2-6 when leading by three goals since 2010-11.
* Oh, and the Penguins did it with just 10 healthy forwards for most of the game. More on that later.
* There was some chippiness when these two teams met in Boston last Thursday. That certainly carried over into this afternoon's matchup. Kris Letang and Brad Marchand were involved in several skirmishes. Patric Hornqvist and John Moore went after each other after nearly every whistle. And Chris Wagner won't be getting a Christmas card from Sidney Crosby next year for sure.
* Sidney Crosby continued his torrid scoring pace since returning from a core muscle injury. He posted two assists against Boston to help surge the Penguins' comeback. Crosby now has eight points (3G-5A) in four games.
Both assists were very Crosby-esque. The first came from behind the net where he gained position on Torey Krug, then made a reverse pass to Dominik Simon on the goal line. Simon with a nice finish from a tough angle.
Video: BOS@PIT: Simon deposits Crosby feed from side of net
For his second assist and encore, Crosby found an errant shot below the goal line and made a no-look, through-the-legs drop pass to Teddy Blueger, who deked and sniped top shelf.
Video: BOS@PIT: Blueger pots goal after Crosby's slick pass
* The Penguins started goaltender Matt Murray after he stopped 28 of 29 shots in an overtime victory at Detroit on Friday night. Things didn't start out so well as Bergeron scored just 11 seconds into the game. Just 122 seconds into the game, Murray was beat again to make it 2-0. Late in the third the Bruins took a 3-0 lead when Pastrnak's centering pass went off of the stick of Jack Johnson and in.
It's hard to fault Murray on the goals. Sure, he could have had the Bergeron shot. But it was a close-range shot from a perennial 30-goal scorer. The second goal appeared to be deflected, and the third was a fluky friendly fire casualty.
That being said, being down 3-0 was a big mental test for Murray. It's been a challenging season for the young netminder (despite being a two-time Stanley Cup champion, he is still only 25 years old). And he passed the test. He didn't fold. Instead, he shrugged it off and played spectacularly down the stretch. Murray slammed the door to allow for the comeback. And his save on Matt Grzelcyk in the final minutes sealed it.
* What a redemption moment for Jack Johnson. Johnson was on the negative end of a goal against late in the first period when David Pastrnak's centering pass went off of Johnson's stick and through Matt Murray's five-hole to give Boston a 3-0 lead.
Johnson made up for the play in the third period during a penalty kill. The Penguins were on a two-on-two rush when Johnson aggressively jumped into the play as the trailer. Brandon Tanev dropped him the puck. Johnson ripped a slap shot under Jaroslav Halak's blocker to tie the game at 3-3.
Video: BOS@PIT: Johnson blasts slap shot short side for SHG
Wax on, wax off.
Video: BOS@PIT: Rust nets Malkin's nifty pass after turnover
* The Penguins injury list grew again (stop me if you've heard this one before). Forward Dominik Kahun left the game early in the second period and did not return. Simon (another Dom) left late in the second, returned for the start of the third and then left halfway through the third.