Despite throwing 54 on Boston's goal, 29 of them being scoring chances, the Penguins could only get one past goaltender Tuukka Rask last night and that predictably was not enough to win them the game as the Bruins defeated them 2-1 in overtime. The loss puts Pittsburgh in a 3-0 hole and on the brink of elimination in the series. The Pens have no one but themselves to blame for being in this situation since their play in Games 1 & 2 was sub-bar but last night was a game that they played well enough to win. They outplayed the Bruins by a pretty significant margin and looked like a much better team compared to the first two games. The only problem was that they just couldn't finish and you can point to Rask & some bad puck luck (i.e. goal posts) as the reason for that.
It seemed like a black cloud was hanging over the Penguins during last night's game because no matter how much offense they created, they could not get anything past Rask and it resulted in the game going to double overtime. In overtime, the team that makes the first mistake is usually the one that loses but both Rask and Vokoun were able to keep their teams in this one for awhile. The Bruins were the team who eventually got the reward, though as Patrice Bergeron got the inside edge on Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik and it allowed him to tip in a centering pass from Brad Marchand to put the Bruins one game away from the Stanley Cup Finals.
Had this been Game 1 or Game 2, I would say that the Penguins would still be in this, but I can really see this ending in a sweep because of how deflating this loss is for Pittsburgh. This was a game that they played well enough to win and now that they let it slip out of their hands, the room for error is very slim. It's really hard for me to see Pittsburgh pulling off a comeback when you take that and their poor play in the first two games into consideration. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it seems very unlikely at this point even though they looked like a better team in Game 3.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins Game 3
The Bruins were not outplayed that badly at even strength, but the fact that this game was still tied after the third period was hilarious. Boston had two power plays during that frame and they still failed to record a scoring chance while Pittsburgh pounded them during five-on-five play. Just goes to show you how good Rask was last night. The Penguins also can not buy a power play goal for whatever reason right now. There were times when their power play looked bad but overall, they created 10 chances with 12 minutes of power play time and somehow did not score on any of them. Dominating the special teams battle was a huge reason why the Pens got through the first round and while they've been creating chances on the power play, they haven't been able to finish and that's ultimately what matters.
Penguins Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Beau Bennett & Sidney Crosby +5
Worst EV Forward: Matt Cooke -5
Best EV Defensemen: Douglas Murray & Paul Martin +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Kris Letang EVEN
Pittsburgh's top-six finally showed up tot he part last night and Evgeni Malkin had what was arguably his best game of the playoffs. He didn't score, but he was on the ice for 17 of Pittsburgh's total scoring chances and created eight of them on his own. He looked like a man possessed on a lot of his shifts and it's a mystery how he did not get at least one past Rask last night. Of course, he also got pick-pocked by Jaromir Jagr on the game-winning goal and that's what most people are going to remember instead of how well he played before that. Beau Bennett also had a very good game and it's easy to tell that he enjoys playing in the top-six just a little bit.
While Malkin is taking a lot of heat from fans, the media's focus in the first two games has been on Sidney Crosby, as NBC's panel called Game 2 "the worst performance of his career." He responded nicely in Game 3 with a great game at even strength and being on the ice for 16 of Pittsburgh's scoring chances. As a whole, Pittsburgh's first line was great last night and Dupuis had what was probably his best game of the series.
Unfortunately, Pittsburgh's bottom-six didn't have much going last night as Jarome Iginla was the only player to have a positive scoring chance differential and their third line was very poor defensively. I'm sure the Pens will take their bottom-six getting lit up over their first two lines any day of the week, though.
Pittsburgh's defense had the opposite problem last night, as most of their big minute players were on the ice for quite a few of Boston's scoring chances. Martin, Orpik, Letang and Engelland were able to make up for this offensively but Martin was the only one who contained the Bruins well at even strength. Their third-pairing of Murray & Niskanen played well in their own zone, but I think Pittsburgh is expecting better out of their top-four since they were prone to a lot of slip-ups in coverage.
Bruins Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Jaromir Jagr & Patrice Bergeron +2
Worst EV Forward: David Krejci -6
Best EV Defenseman: Torey Krug +3
Worst EV Defensemen: Zdeno Chara & Andrew Ference -4
The Bruins second line basically carried the team last night, producing over half of their even strength scoring chances and scoring the game-winning goal. With Krejci's line having another off game and the Bruins fourth line being sparingly used, this line needed to have a good game for the Bruins to have a chance and they did just that. They weren't as excellent defensively as they were in the first two games, but they came away a net positive at even strength and were the only line from Boston that was capable of maintaining possession in Pittsburgh's zone on a consistent basis. This along with Rask's performance allowed the Bruins to survive despite not getting as much as they should have out of the Krejci line. Nathan Horton seems to be the only one on that unit who is driving the play.
With the exception of Johnny Boychuk & Torey Krug, Boston's defense struggled last night as Chara had his worst game of the series and Ference also got lit up by Crosby's line. Boychuk was very active offensively with six shots on goal and 11 shot attempts and Krug has really thrived in protected minutes ever since he was inserted into the lineup last round. I'm not sure how Boston will do next round if Chara & Seidenberg play this poorly, but they have been great for most of the playoffs so I wouldn't panic if I was a Bruins fan. Bad games happen and the B's were fortunate to survive a sub-par performance from their top defense pairing.
Head-to-Head at Five-on-Five
There wasn't much any Bruin player could do about containing Crosby's line last night, with the exception of Rask that is. Crosby won all of his matchups and did some major damage against the Bruins second defense pairing. A performance like that will normally win you a lot of games, but it obviously was not enough for Pittsburgh last night. Malkin also won most of his matchups, but Bergeron's line was able to at least fight his to a draw which really went a lot way to help the Bruins keep this a tie game. Also, while Bergeron's line struggled to drive the play against Pittsburgh's best forwards, they had more success when they faced the rest of their lineup. Kelly's line also performed well against the Penguins bottom-six and this helped make upf or Krejci's line not having a great game. They also had a lot of success when matched up against Kris Letang, which will probably make Penguins fans want to pull their hair out.
As the Washington Capitals found out in 2010, sometimes you can outplay your opponent but still lose after running into a goalie who played out of his mind. This is what happened to the Penguins last night and while Rask isn't the only reason why they are down 3-0 in the series, he was the main reason why the Bruins won last night. Replay this game again and it's doubtful that the Pens only get one goal by Rask, but that doesn't matter right now. All Pittsburgh can do is carry over this performance to Game 4 and hope the goals will come because that's really the only thing that went wrong for them last night.
|1||BOS||18:18||Krejci – GOAL||71||18||24||2||58||92||46||18||17||33||54||40||5v5|
|2||PIT||11:09||Kunitz – GOAL||87||9||14||7||58||92||37||63||68||21||55||40||5v5|
|2OT||BOS||4:41||Bergeron – GOAL||71||18||24||5||44||92||37||63||68||33||44||40||5v5|