After a shameful showing in Game 2 where they got blown out, 6-1, on their home ice the Penguins showed true character in Game 3 as they poured everything they had into attempting to climb back into this series. But the Bruins managed to take Pittsburgh’s best shot and still survived for an unforgettable 2-1 win in double overtime. Patrice Bergeron gave Boston a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals, with a beautiful tip in from Brad Marchand and Jaromir Jagr.
In a postseason that is quickly accumulating numerous special moments, this was a signature victory for the Bruins, who improved to 4-1 in overtime on Bergeron’s second OT winner. As Tuukka Rask said, “you don’t get wins like this too many times in your career.” Added Bruins head coach Claude Julien, “five periods is mentally exhausting. We have a lot of character to stay sharp. We didn’t have a bad game (in regulation) but it wasn’t our top game. I thought we played better in overtime, we were the team we had to be.”
Rask played the game of his life, making a career-high 53 saves as he boosted his teammates after they got a gift goal by David Krejci 1:42 into the contest. After the shots were even at 10 in the first period, Pittsburgh turned it up a notch in the second period (15-11) and especiallyin the third (14-4). It became a shooting gallery for the Penguins so it was inevitable that Rask would allow a goal at some point under the constant pressure. Chris Kunitz had the lone tally for Pittsburgh, a one-timer from Paul Martin over Rask’s shoulder at 8:51 in the second period.
Evgeni Malkin had another game full of chances but he has yet to notch any points in the series, ditto for Sidney Crosby who continues to do his best Alex Rodriguez in the playoffs impression. Not that they needed any extra motivation as they tried to put Pittsburgh on the brink of elimination but the Bruins rallied around Gregory Campbell who heroically blocked a shot in the second period and was clearly injured but he stayed out there for the rest of the shift until the puck was cleared. It was a fitting metaphor for the Bruins’ current roll (winners of eight out of their last nine games); they are doing all the little things it takes to win a championship.
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Bergeron talked about Jagr, whom he called a “legend,” and how the future Hall of Famer has bought in.
“That little detail (on the winning goal), he fought for the puck along the boards and won it. That started the play and got it to Marchand. You notice that as a teammates, it’s what we all need to do.”
One of the main reasons that Boston finds itself up 3-0 in the series is because it has completely neutralized Pittsburgh’s lethal power play. The Penguins are 0-of-12 in the playoffs, including 0-of-6 tonight. The Bruins were able to survive a pair of man advantages in overtime, but not even their mandatory too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty could derail them. Game 4 is Friday (8 p.m., NBCSN) at TD Garden as the Bruins will look to close out the Penguins.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate