Pittsburgh Penguins Get Biggest Win Of Season Over Bruins


Nov 24, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) is congratulated by Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87), Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Spaling (13) and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (10) after scoring the winning goal during the overtime period of the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In the big scheme, it was worth two points like all the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ regular-season games, but Monday’s meeting with the Bruins in Boston carried a little more juice.

Most of that is probably a carryover from the 2013 Eastern Conference final, when the Bruins somehow held the high-scoring Penguins to two total goals in a four-game sweep.

With apologies to the 2012 Flyers series or the blown 3-1 lead against the Rangers last spring, getting completely stifled by Boston was probably the most inexplicable of the playoff losses in the Dan Bylsma-Ray Shero era.

That sobering defeat was when the prevailing narrative started to turn against the Penguins’ postseason fortitude, especially that of their stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Despite both being at full strength and rolling through two playoff rounds, they combined to score zero points against the Bruins.

Perhaps you could blame Bylsma’s rigidity for the Pens’ failure to generate much of anything in that series, along with some bad bounces around the net and an all-time performance from Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

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God only knows if Pittsburgh will get another crack at Boston when it really counts, but Monday’s 3-2 overtime victory had to represent a catharsis for the visitors.

Sure, the Bruins were playing without giant defenseman Zdeno Chara and top-line center David Krejci, both of whom were transformational players in the East final two seasons ago. However, the way the Pens (14-4-2, 30 points) went about their business was particularly encouraging – and satisfying.

In the same TD Garden where former Penguin Brooks Orpik was brutally beaten by one-time Bruins troublemaker Shawn Thornton 11 months ago, there was precious little nonsense in Monday’s showdown. It was a hockey game for fans of actual hockey, with both teams showing off what makes them special.

The reshuffled first line of Nick Spaling, Patric Hornqvist and Crosby was particularly effective, creating numerous chances from around and behind the net. Although the second unit wasn’t quite as successful, Malkin got to show off his finishing skill, once on the power play and again during 4-on-4 overtime, when he buried a cross-rink pass from Crosby to cap a 3-on-2 rush with Kris Letang driving the center lane:

Watch Malkin’s celebration – or Crosby’s on his game-opening goal – and tell me this one didn’t mean a little bit more than your typical November matchup. Especially after getting humbled by the Islanders over the weekend, the Penguins had to feel particularly good about beating the Bruins to complete their two-game trip.

With Crosby recording three points, Malkin earning two, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury making a difference when the Bruins threatened late, all the right names showed up in all the right places for Pittsburgh.

It was only one night, but given the circumstances it might as well have counted for double.