David Krejci scored late, and Zdeno Chara scored even later.
Both tallies, just 1:06 apart, propelled the Bruins past the Penguins and capped off an emotional Saturday night at the Garden.
|(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)|
The stuff really hit the fan right from the opening shift, when Brooks Orpik dropped a crushing hit on Loui Eriksson. Eriksson did not have the puck yet, but it was close enough to warrant it a clean hit. Eriksson left the game directly afterwards, and he did not return.
On the next shift, Shawn Thornton challenged Orpik to answer for his hit, but Orpik did not oblige. Thornton received a two-minute roughing penalty as a result of the encounter.
Chris Kunitz put the Pens on the board first at 6:33 on the man-advantage, making the Thornton penalty costly. Kunitz whipped the puck towards the net, where it deflected off a few bodies and past Tuukka Rask. The Penguins have the best powerplay unit in the NHL, and they made no mistake capitalizing on the ill-advised penalty.
Milan Lucic and Deryk Engelland tangled for five a piece, attempting to release some pressure of the valves that had been building in the first few minutes of the game. That would not be the last of extra-circulars; not by a mile.
Reilly Smith got one back for the Bruins, his 6th of the year, at 10:13 of the first, ripping a shot past Marc-Andre Fluery after some quality work through the neutral zone from Jarome Iginla and Brad Marchand. Patrice Bergeron was parked in the circle, where he dropped it off to the streaking Smith who let loose, never breaking stride and beat Fluery.
|(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)|
It was a dirty sequence from Thornton, and he was served with a match-penalty and kicked out of the game, as was justified. That being said, most fans of the game recognize Thornton as one of the more stand-up and classier players in the league, but that does not excuse his actions in this game. He tried to settle the score with Orpik originally, but he took it one step further and it will cost him.
Orpik was taken off on a stretcher and taken to Mass General Hospital.
After the 10 minute delay to sort out the happenings, the game did calm down a level or two, but both teams continued to jaw, slash and punch at each other after most of the whistles.
James Neal put the Pens back in front at 13:13, and again on the powerplay. Neal was serving a two-minute minor for kneeing Brad Marchand (which was an "accidental-on-purpose" swipe - more on that later.) Neal took the puck in stride after jumping out of the box and beat Tuukka Rask five-hole.
The second period didn't see any scoring, as the Pens took the lead deep into the third period.
With just a few minutes to go, Reilly Smith missed a wide-open net, shanking the rebound that bounced off of Fluery and right to Smith. With the entire net to shoot at, the puck just exploded off his stick and past the net.
But with the goalie pulled late in the third, the Bruins found their breakthrough courtesy of David Krejci.
Krejci tied the game at 18:31, as he found himself in the right place at the right time. After some serious board-work just outside the trapezoid by Lucic and Iginla, and aided by Zdeno Chara's huge frame (also down low), Lucic was able to swing a pass towards the net. Krejci picked it up and riled it through the bodies where it took a deflection and snuck under Fluery.
But the Bruins weren't done, and Zdeno Chara provided the last bit of drama on the night. After the newly formed line of Bergeron, Marchand and Smith cycled the puck in the circle with the time winding down, Smith found Chara all alone in the middle of the zone, dead center with Flurey. Chara gathered the puck and launched a wrist shot past Flurey to win the game for the B's.
The fallout from this game will be heavy, as questions will be asked and answers will be given to multiple incidents that occurred. The Thornton-Orpik one is obvious, but the James Neal "accidental" knee to the head of Marchand will also be looked at by the league.
It was a playoff atmosphere in the Garden, as these games versus the Penguins have now become a must-watch event whenever they play. Unfortunately, this is the last time these two teams will play each other this regular season. But it would not a be a shock at all to see them meet in April or May.