The Eastern Conference Final departed the city of Pittsburgh and moved on to Boston, the Bruins leading the series 2 to 0. It goes without saying that the Penguins were in desperate need of a win if they wished to extend their season beyond this coming Friday. Only time would be able to tell if the boys in black and vegas gold could get it together before it was too late.
As has been the norm over the course of this series thus far, Boston wasted no time taking a 1-0 lead. The goal came with just over a minute and a half off the clock in the first period, courtesy of David Krejci. Playing the puck from behind the net, Krejci’s pass would deflect off of Matt Niskanen and into the net behind Tomas Vokoun. Boston came close to making it a 2-0 lead when a weird bounce off the glass sent the puck spiralling toward the crease, left vacant by Vokoun who was trapped behind the net. With nine minutes gone in the period, the Penguins appeared to have a power play when Jonny Boychuk was whistled for interference. However, the man advantage was cancelled out by a roughing to Joe Vitale in the scrum that ensued. Both teams emerged from the four-on-four unscathed and the Penguins headed right back to the power play when Nathan Horton was whistled for a hold. The Penguins created some pressure but unfortunately the puck could not find the back of the net. With the first horn, the Penguins found themselves down by a goal with shots being even at 10 apiece.
With a minute and forty-four seconds off the clock in the second, the Penguins headed back to the power play when Krejci was whistled for roughing. Once again, they couldn’t convert but were given a chance at redemption when Adam McQuaid earned two minutes for boarding. While the Penguins created multiple choices, the bounces just didn’t go their way and their third powerplay proved as unsuccessful as the first two. However, it did put the Penguins up 10 shots to the Bruins 2 and as such it was no real surprise when, almost nine minutes into the frame, Chris Kunitz got Pittsburgh on the board. Off of a face-off win, Paul Martin spun around some Boston defenders, cut low and sent the pass across the ice to Kunitz who banked it in for the goal. Seconds later the Bruins were caught with too many men on the ice. However, the power play proved futile, the game remain locked at a goal apiece. Following a time out, Evgeni Malkin earned a breakaway with a burst of speed from the bench, trailed by Jarome Iginla. Rask somehow made the save, deny both players. With 1:19 left in the second, the Bruins earned their first power play of the game when Iginla was whistled for a trip. Thus, the Bruins would start the third period up a man.
Pittsburgh was able to successfully kill of the remainder of the Iginla penalty. Less than two minutes into the final frame, the teams would head to four-on-four hockey once again when Chris Kunitz and Brad Marchand were each sent to the box, Kunitz for a slash and Marchand for a knee. The Penguins sustained pressure through the four-on-four play, but the posts would prove to be their biggest adversary. The Bruins were given another power play with 13:33 left in regulation when Douglas Murray found himself whistled for a slash. The Penguins had no problems killing off the penalty. Halfway through the first, the game remained gridlocked at a single goal each. With 7:36 left in regulation, Pittsburgh found themselves down a man, again, this time as Pascal Dupuis was whistled for interference. The Penguins maintained a good deal of puck possession despite being on the penalty kill, the advantage passing without any capitalization by Boston. With less than five minutes less to go in regulation, Evgeni Malkin came within inches – literally – of allowing Pittsburgh to pull ahead and while he beat Rask he couldn’t beat the post. The Penguins continued to apply pressure, Malkin absolutely pushing for that goal. With 0:17 left remaining in regulation, Boston elected to use their timeout. The third would pass without another goal and as such, Game 3 was headed to overtime.
The overtime period would start off with a bang, literally, as with just over a minute into it, the teams were sent to four-on-four hockey when Milan Lucic and Matt Cooke were given matching roughing penalties after they exchanged fisticuffs following a whistle. Nathan Horton would earn a breakaway and come close to taking game three with just over two and a half minutes gone in the fourth period but would be knocked off the play by a sprawling Kris Letang. The teams returned to five-on-five hockey unscathed. Horton came close again, this time the goal post standing in his way. The Penguins found themselves with the advantage of a late call when Chris Kelly was whistled for hit against Beau Bennett. The Bruins were able to kill it off despite some excellent possession and control of the puck. Pittsburgh, in turn, was sent to the box when Brooks Orpik was whistled for a high-stick against Marchand with less than ten to go in the overtime period. The Penguins were able to kill it off. With just over a minute and half left, Boston headed to their second powerplay of the overtime period when a chip by Evgeni Malkin ended up over the boards and whistled for delay of game. That would do it for the first overtime period, with just over twenty seconds left on the Malkin penalty going into the second overtime period.
The Malkin penalty expired without any damage and play would continue back and forth. Boston would be whistled for too many men with three minutes and forty-seven seconds off the clock in the fifth period. Once again, nothing would come from the power play. So it would continue until Patrice Bergeron banked in the winner with 15:19 gone in the second overtime. Boston won 2 to 1, taking a commanding 3 to 0 lead in the series.
Game 4 goes Friday night in Boston at 8:00pm.