Close, but no cigar. While that statement has relevance to the comeback Boston almost mounted in the third period, it can aptly describe the problems Boston faced all afternoon when moving out of their own zone. In a theme carried throughout Boston’s 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Bruins inability to capably breakout of their third of the ice cleanly was a deciding factor in today’s outcome. When Boston was successfully able to move the puck out of their zone, many of the clears were poor passes or simply chips with no real intended target.
Pittsburgh’s game winning goal, scored by Matt Cooke, came as a direct result of a bad clear - Dennis Seidenberg, feeling pressure below the goal line, fired a hybrid saucer pass/clearing attempt about waist-high toward Zach Hamill, who was unable to control the puck. Immediately corralled by the Pens and moved back into the B’s zone in what amounted to a 3-5 by the Pens. In a scene that could well be a microcosm of Boston’s recent defensive struggles, Cooke was able to take two chips at a rebound from a foot outside the crease, while all five Boston players were below the faceoff dots and three – Corvo, Hamill and Kelly – formed a triangle around Cooke to watched him put away the game winner without so much as putting a body on Cooke.
Pittsburgh kicked off the scoring to go up 1-0 with just nine seconds left in the first period as Evgeni Malkin put home a power play goal from a difficult angle to give the Pens some momentum headed into the intermission. Unlike prior games where the Bruins saved their best for the third period, Boston came out of the first intermission with good energy and generated some great opportunities in the second period, including a great pass from Seguin to a cutting Marchand that was steered just wide, but they were held scoreless through two periods.
Boston’s defense generated the bulk of the shots on goal for the game, including the team’s only goal in the game – after corralling a puck along the sideboards, Joe Corvo put a wrist shot on net that found its way through a screen and past Fleury 6:45 into the third. The final 10 minutes of the third provided a number of great scoring opportunities as Boston scrambled to put an equalizer on the board, but the Bruins weren’t able to get the goal they were looking for.
Despite the negative outlook of the previous three paragraphs, Boston could very well have won this game 4-1 or even 5-0 with just a few different bounces. However, it was another disappointing game for the home team, with the effort given at times not matching the effort needed to snap out of the funk. It’s said that you make your own luck, and based on the effort levels of both teams this afternoon, it was clear that Pittsburgh was the team determined to make their own luck, while the Bruins were just hoping for it to happen.