Boston Bruins Take 3-0 Series Lead On Sinking Penguins

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Posted June 6, 2013 by Jason Balla in Sports
Bruins Celebrate Victory

Already steeped in hockey tradition, the Boston Bruins are close to adding another chapter to their rich history.  Their 2-1, 2-OT win in game 3 of the Eastern Conference final series against the Pittsburgh Penguins puts the Bruins one win away from another Stanley Cup Final.  Game 3 was a defining game in the series, as the mighty top seeded Penguins had struggled terribly in games 1 and 2 at home.  The Penguins were facing a near must win scenario in game 3 in what proved to be the best game of the 2013 NHL Playoffs to date.

The Penguins had a realistic chance to get back into the series with a win in Boston.  The Pens knew they had to stabilize the beginning of the game given the raucous crowd and electric atmosphere at the TD Garden.  But yet again, the game’s first shot on goal from the Bruins’ David Krejci caromed of Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen and through goalie Tomas Vokoun, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead just 1:42 into period 1.  However, the Penguins stayed patient in the face of the consistently tough Boston defense and played their game; fore-checking, back-checking, and creating scoring chances in front of Bruins net minder Tuukka Rask.  The Penguins persistence paid off as they finally netted a goal against Rask to tie the game 1-1, the tally coming from winger Chris Kunitz a little over halfway through the second period.

The Penguins went on to create chance after chance throughout periods 2 and 3, dominating the game in stretches. Rask, however, was up to the challenge, as was counterpart Tomas Vokoun in the Pittsburgh net.  Nearing the end of regulation you had the sense that this game was far from over.  Rask was particularly strong in the third period as the Pens out shot the Bruins 14-4. He saved 38 of the 39 shots he faced in regulation, and the teams went to overtime tied 1-1.

In the first overtime both teams created a flurry of opportunities, but neither was able to light the lamp to end the game.  A few power plays provided for even more excitement as both teams continued to kill off power play chances.  The first overtime would end with a carry over power play chance for the Bruins, but at the start of the second overtime the Pens would kill off the remainder of that penalty.   Combined the teams went 0-11 on power plays, the Pens going 0-6 and the Bruins going 0-5.

The second overtime provided more wide-open play from both teams. The Pens were on the brink of making the series 2-1 during an outstanding shift from the Pens top line and superstar Sidney Crosby.  Crosby lost his helmet after being knocked down in the corner by Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk.  But he scrambled to his feet to strip Boychuk’s defense partner Andrew Ference of the puck, stealing it from behind right in the slot in front of Rask. A diving block by Boychuk prevented the ensuing Crosby shot from reaching Rask. Boychuk then blocked the follow up shot from Kunitz as well. It was a bounce back game for not only Crosby, but also for fellow Pengiun superstar Evgeni Malkin.  But the Bruins didn’t need to bounce back. They had been steady from the opening puck drop of the series, especially the line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and former Penguin great Jaromir Jagr.

Bergeron Winner

Game 3: Patrice Bergeron’s game-winning goal sneaks past Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun early in the second overtime. Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara

With just under 5 minutes left in the second OT, Jagr got away with a controversial hook on Malkin along the boards at center ice to steal the puck. He skipped the puck ahead to Marchand who gained the blue line and skated down the left boards.  Marchand then centered the puck to a streaking Patrice Bergeron, who gained inside position on the gassed Brooks Orpik and flicked the puck past goaltender Thomas Vokoun, giving the Bruins the 3-0 series lead.

By the second overtime shifts were short, players were exhausted, and the deciding goal may have decided this series.  Teams with a 3-0 games lead in Stanley Cups Finals history are 170-3 all time.

Bergeron is rapidly playing his way into Boston lore as one of the great and clutch performers in Bruins history.  Rask ended the night with 53 saves and shut the Pens down in what was nothing short of a magnificent effort.

“Everyone is doing everything in order to get the success and to get the wins, and it doesn’t matter what it is and who it is,” Bergeron said following his game winner.

“I thought we generated more scoring chances than them,” said Crosby afterward, “and I thought we deserved better.”

“We played exactly how we wanted to play,” confirmed beleaguered Pittsburgh coach Dan Blysma. “We just couldn’t find the second goal.”

It remains to be seen if the Penguins have any fight left in what is now a one game series four games in a row for Pittsburgh.  This highly talented group that General Manager Ray Shero constructed may have the best chance to come back from a 3-0 deficit of any team in the NHL. But the Bruins have a white hot goaltender in Rask (2 goals against in 11 periods), Jaromir Jagr (who needs Jarome Iginla?) and the most balanced team in the league.

The Bruins lost 4th line stud Gregory Campbell to a broken leg early in the game but it may not matter as they continue to have showed a continued ability to play the perfect team game. Few would have guessed the league’s top offensive team could be shut down as effectively as the Penguins have been. Game 4 is on Friday, but if the Bruins defense continues to be this strong, that next chapter in their history will be here before the weekend.


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