Here are my talking points from Sunday afternoon's unexpected collapse in Pittsburgh . . .
GOLD STAR: Sidney Crosby didn’t have a real hand in the Penguins' game-tying or game-winning goals. But it was the superstar that got Pittsburgh back in the game after they went down 3-0 in the first period. Crosby carried John Moore on his back and fed Dominik Simon for Pittsburgh’s first goal, to give them signs of life. Then he made a highlight-reel backhanded, between-the-legs pass to Teddy Blueger in the second period to push them closer. Crosby finished with two assists in 18:27 of ice time, two shot attempts, four hits and took 24 draws in a gritty-feeling, playoff-style game. This was an amazing lesson in how the little things can make a huge impact. He only had one shot on net, but was a dominant figure in the game.
BLACK EYE: Charlie McAvoy coughed up the puck to Evgeni Malkin behind the Bruins' net midway through the third period in a tie game. That set up the game-winning goal for Pittsburgh, and capped another blown three-goal lead for the Black and Gold. McAvoy clearly wasn’t hard enough on the puck on the game-deciding play. He finished with a minus-2 rating in 26:52 of ice time, and wasn’t good at all in the third period. He continues to miss the net on far too many shooting chances, and still doesn’t have a goal just one game away from the All-Star break. At times McAvoy has been solid defensively, blocking shots and playing the body. But his whole game is puck-moving, and he froze on that play behind the net.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a power play early in the third period, after Kris Letang elbowed Brad Marchand in the head and knocked his helmet off (an attempt to get even for their second-period scrap). But the Bruins' top power-play unit stayed on the ice for too long, and that turned into a shorthanded Penguins rush going the other way. Brad Marchand lagged behind Jack Johnson as the trailer going up the ice. Then Brandon Tanev fed a pass to a wide open, trailing Johnson, and he rifled it past Jaroslav Halak for the game-tying goal. At that point it felt like the Bruins were going to once again lose a game where they held a three-goal lead.
HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron certainly did his job on Sunday afternoon. He scored the game's first goal 11 seconds into the game, beautifully finishing a David Pastrnak transition pass. Bergeron finished with the goal and a plus-1 rating in 18:41 of ice time, four shots on net, five shot attempts and dominated the dot with a whopping 20-of-25 face-offs won. Bergeron and Pastrnak (goal, assist, nine shots) did everything they could do. But beyond them, and Brandon Carlo finishing with a plus-3 rating in 21:13 of ice time, there were many B’s players that needed to be better.
BY THE NUMBERS: 16-1-6 — the B’s record when leading after two periods this season. That's among the worst records in the NHL, made even worse by finally losing one of those in regulation.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “There are good players in this league. They make good plays. I need to be stronger on the puck.” –Charlie McAvoy, on the game-deciding play in the third period where he gave up the puck to Evgeni Malkin for Pittsburgh’s game-winning goal.
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