For perhaps the first time in history, NBC made a smart decision by putting two top teams on for a matinee game in an attempt to get some of the usual Sunday afternoon football audience. What unfolded in the next three hours on that sheet of ice in Pittsburgh would be enough to make anyone interested in hockey. With barely any rest between their last three games, the Penguins haven’t made any roster changes. Mike Sullivan decided to ride with Matt Murray for a second consecutive game so the lineup looked identical to Friday night’s game in Detroit.
The only time I remember Agozzino is in the lineup is when I post this image for the recaps.
As Steve Mears likes to say, sticks down, puck down, let’s give up a quick goal.
Letang took Pastrnak, Jack Johnson took Marchand, nobody took Bergeron. There is a lot of blame to go around on this goal from Johnson getting tangled up with Marchand to McCann not picking up the last forward in. Murray puts all of his marbles into Marchand going glove high so Marchand wires it in bottom left. Just a few seconds after the goal a puck was dropped in behind Murray and he pulled a Fleury and bobbled it nearly resulting in an empty net wrap around. That one stayed out but the next one didn’t. A quick turnover in the offensive zone resulted in a 3 on 2 for the Bruins, DeBrusk and Coyle got the puck to Bjork, and he fired one straight to Murray’s head and in.
Not a good start for Matt Murray in any sense, but man what a great shot placement by Bjork. It’s not exactly glove side, and not exactly at the eyes, perfectly placed over the shoulder. I’m not making excuses for Murray, this is the one goal he gave up that should’ve been stopped, but sometimes it is okay to appreciate a good shot. Shortly after this goal, a puck dropped in that Murray batted away and the Pittsburgh faithful gave him a Bronx cheer. It was a cute moment because those same people would literally be losing their shit chanting his name by the end of it. After the second goal the Penguins, as a team, because there were others also playing not named Murray, decided they should start playing hockey. They finally started pushing back and eventually leveled the playing surface. After thirteen minutes of 5v5 play the Bruins put the dagger in when David Pastrnak banked one in off Johnson’s Johnson at 15:07.
Every player in yellow moves during this gif except for Johnson. Some will say it’s because he was protecting a pass to Marchand and that’s fine, my question is why was he just standing there before Pastrnak went around the net and the pass to Marchand was available? Brian Boucher started losing his shit between the glass saying Murray was playing too aggressively on the post for the potential Pastrnak shot. Too close to the post for a potential shot by the leagues leading goal scorer? There’s another word that rhymes with his nickname “Boosh” that is more appropriate with comments like that. For most Steelers fans tuning in the TV was probably turned off and a 1 o’clock trip to Pizza Hut was made at this time. You couldn’t blame them, scoring 4 goals on Jaroslav Halak isn’t something the Penguins were likely to do. Of course, this isn’t a normal hockey team, and unlike the rest of us they don’t quickly give up. A minute after Pastrnak quieted the crowd Sidney Crosby went to work in his office, faked out the entire Boston team while turning around to find Dominik Simon. If you are in the Matt Murray sucks and Dominik Simon can’t score crowd hopefully you didn’t watch the rest of this game. The pass to Simon was perfect because it was from Sid, and Dom lit Da Bomb Baby
DOMINIK SIMON (6) Assisted by Crosby (16) & Hornqvist (8) @ 16:34
This was the 786th assist of Sidney Crosby’s career, and damn if it wasn’t a good one. The entire Boston team committed to Crosby trying to come around the net and find Hornqvist short side, so Sid says “nah bitch” and hits his boy Simon. Hell of a finish by Dom.
The goal brought some life back into the arena. There were a lot of non-calls throughout the period, so naturally, the only penalty goes to Teddy Blueger for a hook softer than the foam ones the Pirates sell. The Penguins killed off the first 90 seconds of the penalty before the period concluded. Not an ideal start for Murray or the Penguins in general, by the time the frame was over the Bruins had 25 scoring chances to the Penguins 13.
Every talking head on NBC said Tristan Jarry should start in goal in the second. It made sense, Murray wasn’t sharp early, the team was only down two. The thing is, none of those talking heads have coached a Stanley Cup team. Hell, one of them couldn’t post a .500 record with Lemieux and Crosby on his roster. Mike Sullivan kept Matt Murray in net because Mike Sullivan is a Jack Adams caliber coaching. Nothing says “I believe in you” more to this group than him leaving Murray in net, it was a hell of a call that most of us mortals would not have had the balls to do. I would’ve put Jarry in as well, I am also not a Stanley Cup winning coach. The Penguins killed off the remaining 30 seconds of the Blueger penalty and as the penalty expired Letang got the puck to Crosby and he once again created wet panties around the Burgh.
TEDDY BLEUGER (7) Assisted by Crosby (17) & Letang (21) @ 0:33
Assist number 787 was just nasty. I would cheat on his assist on the Simon goal with this assist. Just watch this freaking gif for the rest of the day, that pass by Crosby is from another world.
To have that vision in real-time is something we cannot comprehend. And let’s not take anything away from the goal, which demonstrated some silky smooth hands and patience by Blueger who, indeed, saved the world with this one. The Penguins would get a powerplay chance 12:09 when Chris Wagner, who is a certified wang, interfered with Malkin. 51 seconds into the penalty brad Marchand started dry-humping Kris Letang’s legs, I mean, we’ve all wanted to do it so kudos to Marchand for going for it. Kelley Sutherland, who had himself a day, watched as Letang tried to get away while Marchand went in for a Brad Job. Eventually, a penalty was called and they both went off for two. This is NHL reffing, folks,,,
The two teams would continue getting chippy and Boston would continue to scrum things up after every whistle. At one point Chara floated in, landed a retaliatory punch, and skated out without a call. It’s incredible how a 6’9″ player can be so invisible.
Anyways, neither team would find the net again in the period.
Really good response by Murray and the Penguins. Sullivan rolled the dice knowing that an early powerplay goal given up in the second would be game over, but he also knew that if the Pens got the next goal to make it 3-2 they would be in it. Some people say Mike Sullivan “protects” Matt Murray. Leaving him in this game was the exact opposite of protection, it was a “you got yourself into this, get us out” prove it moment.
The Penguins were only down one, it would be difficult enough to get that goal back, so the refs made it even harder by ringing Kris Letang up for elbowing, you guessed it, Brad Marchand…
I don’t really have the words for this call. Mike Sullivan was rightfully pissed. The Penguins were rightfully pissed. Brad Marchand was magically okay. Jack Johnson said “HEY! Dats my pardner!” and avenged the penalty with a short-handed slapshot fired with the power of Zeus’ dick
JACK JOHNSON (3) Assisted by Tanev (12) @ 1:41 SHG
Don’t look at me, I’ve loved the Johnson signing form the beginning! Unreal timing for this goal from Johnson, and yet another play set up by the damn tenacity of Brandon Tanev. Lady Rutherford most likely got some last night after Jim saw his two most criticized free agent signings team up to drop the hammer on Boston.
Don’t lie, you jumped off your couch in your sweats and celebrated this goal the same was as JJ. The Penguins killed off the rest of the penalty, and Matt Murray once again became Matthew Murray. The Bruins were desperate to retake the lead but Murray wasn’t having it. The Penguins got their looks too as this game started to look like it was bound for overtime. Overtime would be an achievement. Wes Crosby tweeted out that since 2010-11 the Bruins were 200-1-6 when having a 3 goal lead. The Penguins had erased that, but that’s not enough. This team has something else. This team has that feel. This team has that swagger. This team has that want. Evgeni Malkin has had his full share of criticism for not wanting it enough, for not playing hard enough, for not doing the little things. Would that Evgeni Malkin skate in with 8 minutes left and lay a hit on Charlie McAvoy that would send him back to prep school? Would the Evgeni Malkin of old, who would lose his cool and take bad penalties stay focused after that hit to turn around and make a pass to Bryan Rust alone on the doorstep? Remember when people used to complain that Bryan Rust was only in the top 6 because he was “Sullivan’s boy” and the team needed “real scoring wingers for Sid and Geno.” Remember when this Penguins team started giving you those tingly feelings down there that you haven’t felt since Nashville in 2016? When Bryan Rust fired this puck into the net, the entire league took notice, these Penguins are on a mother fucking mission.
BRYAN RUST (21) Assisted by Malkin (35) @ 12:35
This play by Malkin is the type of plays that champions make. The hit is one thing. Having the hockey IQ to then put a perfect pass on the tape of a streaking forward without even looking is not something you would expect from a player outside of the best 100 to ever play this game. In his 888th game Malkin picked up his 646th assist, and it was beautiful. The goal blew the roof off of the arena as the comeback was complete. The Bruins would open the hatches and bring the flood but Matt Murray has logged on.
Time would tick down, Malkin would make his signature drop pass turnover with 30 seconds left that gave the Bruins one last scoring chance but Time would tick down and the Penguins closed out the biggest gut-check win of their season.
- Possibly the worst officiating I’ve seen. I’ve been recapping games for three years and have probably mentioned the refs 5 times max. This game was atrocious.
- After a horrid start, Matt Murray turned in a solid game, finishing the game with a .919 save percentage despite giving up the 3 goals
- Both Doms were injured during this game and are being evaluated. With only one game left before the bye week I would expect to see Blandisi and Di Pauli back up for tomorrow night
- Mike Sullivan not leading the Jack Adams race is a joke
- Jack Johnson is going to make boneheaded plays from time to time. Matt Murray is going to allow bad goals from time to time. I don’t care. This team is special and you can feel it. It’s time to enjoy some hockey. 87 and 71 aren’t getting any younger, but those two are carrying this team and you just get that sense that they are hungry for number 4
- Fuck Boston