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Pens survive Bruins comeback in overtime win

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Evgeni Malkin scored on the backdoor of Tuukka Rask with just 2:09 left in the overtime period to lift Pittsburgh to a 6-5 victory over the hot Bruins at PPG Paints Arena

With a week-long break upon them, one of the Penguins’ stars provided an in-game break the home team needed most desperately Sunday night against a Bruins team who won seven of its last eight games.

Malkin scored twice and added an assist.  His game-winner, came when a Kris Letang blocked puck bounced off Rask, sailing all the way to the Bruins zone, where Phil Kessel then corralled it, pushing up the ice and running two-man give-and-go with Malkin against an exhausted Boston blue line, in which the center finished, punching one over the sliding leg of the goalie.

“In OT, I had a great seat for that,” said defenseman Jamie Oleksiak of Malkin and Kessel’s late heroics.  “Just sit back and enjoy it and watch the show.  What they do speaks for itself.  They’re so creative.  They’re so good at reading the ice offensively and knowing where guys are.  It’s definitely nice to have those guys on your team.”

While Oleksiak provided his own heroics scoring the opening goal for Pittsburgh (22-19-3) with a one-timer just four minutes into the game, it was goalie Matt Murray who provided, perhaps the biggest gallant effort, stopping a Brad Marchand penalty shot with 1:01 left in the third period.

Inserted into the game with 2:52 left in the second period after David Backes scored Boston’s (23-11-6) fifth goal over starter Tristan Jarry, Murray stuffed the deking Marchand with his right leg, keeping the game knotted at five.

“It was a game-changer,” said Mike Sullivan of the stop.

“Just stop it.  That was my mindset, to be honest,” said Murray of the crucial save.  “Obviously, it is a big play in the game if they score there.”

The netminder who stopped all six shots he faced in 25:35 continued on the pivotal save, where Marchand went the length of the ice to gather speed and momentum for the shot.

“You definitely have to come out a little further and match his speed almost, because, if you get caught flatfooted, he can just walk right around you if he’s going full speed,” the goalie said.  “That’s what I tried to do.  He made a nice move and I thought he kind of had me on the glove side, so I opened up, and he put it five-hole and I was able to get, I think my back leg on it.”

The Pens pieced together a 3-1 lead after Kessel (18) and Letang (3) tickled the twine in the first 20 minutes, but left the door open in the second period for a Boston rally that saw four goals scored, with the Backes goal that lifted the Bruins to a 5-3 advantage.

Jarry stopped 14 of 19 shots, allowing all four goals on seven shots in the second period.

“I think it got kind of sloppy and they took advantage of it,” said Letang.  “I think it was a wake up call, and we just started tightening up our game and we went to work.  We know that we can be successful when we play the right way.”

Malkin brought momentum back in the paint can, when the center scored on the man-advantage with just four seconds left in the second period.

The best power play unit in hockey scored twice with three opportunities on the second best penalty kill unit Sunday night.

“All year it’s been like that,” Letang continued about the power play, which has scored a league-best 39 goals this year.  “We’ve been confident our power play can get big goals for us and keep us in games.  I think it did tonight again.”

Riley Sheahan provided the game-tying goal on an unassisted finish just 2:54 into the third period.

“I think we’ve been resilient,” said Sidney Crosby, who finished three assists on the night.  “I think we’re playing more of our game.  I think we’re now putting ourselves in position.  I think tonight, when we were down, we did some good things and they capitalized on some of our mistakes, but we stuck with it.  We’re starting to play with some speed and some purpose out there.”

Sullivan continued on Crosby’s thoughts.

“There was a lot of adversity tonight, just within the course of the game, but I thought our guys really just stayed with it,” the coach said.  “We climbed back into the game.  Our power play gets a big goal for us at the end the second period that puts us within striking distance, and then we get a big goal from Riley early in the third.  I give the players so much credit for just staying with it, and staying in the fight.”

Separated by just eight points with the Metropolitan leading Washington Capitals, the Penguins, according to Sullivan, are taking the fate-controlling approach to each game.

“Controlling what we can in order to give ourselves the best chance to win each and every night, that’s the only approach we can take, and that is what we talk about with our players,” coach explained.  “Certainly, to get the results this time of year, is critically important.  You can see how tight the league is, you can see how tight our division is and so, every point you get puts you in a better position moving forward.”

After the moneyline

The Pens came in as slight -110 favorites.  The total, which was set at 5.5 goals went well over with 11 combined goals, and marking just the third time in the past nine games that Pittsburgh has gone over.

Pittsburgh came in as the favorite in 35 of 43 games, going 18-17 with the chalk.  The total has gone 21-19-3 in favor of the over.

Up next

The Penguins will not hit the ice again until Saturday when they host Detroit.  Puck drops at 1 PM.

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