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Recap: Bruins show some fight, beat Pittsburgh, 4-3

Back-to-back wins heading into the All-Star break

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Boston Bruins Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

When Phil Kessel’s slapshot made it 2-0 Penguins midway through the first period, you couldn’t help but think, “here we go again.”

The Bruins looked decent out of the gate, but self-inflicted wounds, egregious errors and a bad penalty left them staring down a multi-goal deficit before the game was 20 minutes old.

However, instead of packing their bags and heading into the All-Star break early, the B’s rallied behind a guy who probably shouldn’t have been in the lineup in the first place.

Brad Marchand scored twice in a five-minute span at the start of the second period, and the Bruins used that momentum to score two more, holding off the Penguins for a 4-3 win at the Garden.

Just four minutes after Marchand tied the game at two, Dominic Moore had a monster shift in the offensive zone, winning multiple puck battles before finding Torey Krug at the point.

Krug flipped a tippable shot at Matt Murray, and tipped it was: Riley Nash deftly deflected the puck over Murray for his third goal of the season, giving the Bruins a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

For the Bruins, it was a game that we’ve seen far too few of this season: the team was engaged, energetic and even a little angry: Colin Miller pummeled Scott Wilson in a one-sided fight, David Backes nearly squared up with Phil Kessel and even smaller guys like Frank Vatrano were throwing their weight around.

To a man, the Bruins repeated the importance of playing with energy in the locker room after the game.

Claude Julien credited Backes with providing a spark with his physical play. Backes credited Marchand with flying around the ice like a man possessed. Patrice Bergeron agreed with a reporter’s question about whether or not a game like this could bring the team together, saying it was a game they need more of.

It’s important not to overstate things: the Bruins beat the Red Wings without Dylan Larkin and Thomas Vanek, then the Penguins without Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

However, two wins are two wins, and the Bruins are heading into the break feeling a little more like a team that can do some damage.

Game notes

  • The Bruins’ first line of Marchand, Bergeron and David Pastrnak was a buzzsaw all night, frequently running right over the Penguins for entire shifts. Possession-wise (CF% at 5v5), Bergeron came in at 73%, Marchand at 72% and Pastrnak at 70%. Even more impressive is the fact that those monster shifts frequently came with Sidney Crosby’s line on the ice; Crosby put up a CF% of 33% 5v5.
  • Not sure what Brandon Carlo’s issue is, as the team offered no update after the game. I didn’t see him go down, but did see him struggle to get up and actually get a push from Tuukka Rask to help him to the bench. Carlo was putting little weight on his right leg. Other writers were saying they didn’t see contact or a blown edge. Non-contact injuries are scary, so hopefully this was just a tweak everyone missed.
  • Backes downplayed it after the game, but one can’t help but think this is the kind of game he knows he should have more of. You can argue all you want about the merits of his style of play, but there’s no arguing that the Bruins brought him here to by a semi-replacement Lucic (without the dumb penalties). He’s brought it at times this season, but nights like tonight show why he can be so valuable when he’s on his game.
  • The Bruins’ third line remains bad, regardless of who is on it. Nash scored tonight, yes, but it was when he was on a hybrid line 4v4. Matt Beleskey and Nash both posted 54.55% CF%, while Spooner was the only Bruin below 50% (37.5%). The line was barely noticeable all night.
  • Jimmy Hayes took a solid baseball swing to the face from Chris Kunitz early in the first period. Hayes went down holding his face, and left the ice for a brief period. No penalty was called on the play, but Hayes was sporting a few gashes across his face in the locker room postgame. Hey, no one ever said hockey was pretty, right?