In the span of 7:18 in the third period at Consol Energy Center Tuesday night the Bruins went from being on the verge of their best win of the season to an extremely tough, but predictable 3-2 loss to the Penguins. After going to a shootout in Ottawa Monday night, Boston (17-4-3) ran out of gas after it built a 2-0 lead on Pittsburgh (19-8-0) in the first period. The Bruins’ three-game win streak was snapped while the Penguins have now won six consecutive games - the longest current streak in the NHL.
Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin (31 saves; 4-2-0) was standing on his head for most of the game but Chris Kunitz finally figured out a way to beat him, with a laser of a one-timer over his shoulder, before Brandon Sutter scored the tying goal and game-winner on a pair of Bruins giveaways. Pittsburgh outshot Boston 34-16 (by far a season-low in shots for the B’s) and for much of the second and third period, the ice appeared to be tilted in the Penguins’ favor.
The first period was a different story as the B’s got off to a perfect start on the road. Zdeno Chara picked up a power-play goal on a bomb of a slap shot, then Tyler Seguin made it 2-0 after some great work along the boards by Brad Marchand and a feed from Brad Marchand.
Once again, Boston’s first line was non-existent as Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton combined for no points and a plus/minus of minus-6. Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (14 saves) could have taken a nap after allowing those two early goals as Boston never really tested him after that.
Chris Kelly missed the game with a knee injury suffered on Monday but the good news is that early reports paint it as not too serious. Jay Pandolfo skated on the third line in his place.
The Bruins will return home Wednesday and rest up for another toughstretch of three games in four days: vs. Florida on Thursday (7 p.m., NESN), vs. Washington on Saturday (1 p.m., NESN) and at Pittsburgh (12:30 p.m., NBC). Boston not playing at TD Garden on St. Patrick’s Day just feels wrong.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate