March 12, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: Another brutal final frame dooms B's

By Jesse Connolly

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins couldn't help but laugh at how terrible the Bruins were in the third period. (Getty Images)

Final: Pittsburgh 3, Boston 2

Recap: Despite putting just five pucks on net in the opening 20 minutes, the Bruins finished the first period with a 2-0 lead. Zdeno Chara opened the scoring with a power-play goal, as his slapper caught iron and went into the back of Marc-Andre Fleury’s net at the 4:45 mark. At 13:30, a great feed and even better finish by Tyler Seguin made it 2-0, as No. 19’s unstoppable wrister zipped past a nearly-helpless Fleury.

But Boston’s offensive attack remained lackluster throughout the game, which saw them finish with just 16 shots on goal. That gave the pressing Penguins a chance to climb back into things.

Chris Kunitz cut the lead in half with 6:18 left, Brandon Sutter tied it 51 seconds later and followed that up with 2:03 to go in regulation with what proved to be the game-winner, as Anton Khudobin and the Bruins surrendered three goals in 4:15 of hockey.

Records: Pittsburgh 19-8-0, 38 points; Boston 17-4-3, 37 points

Key Play of the Game: The ship was quickly taking on water and on its way down, but Dennis Seidenberg’s egregious turnover that led to the Pens’ third goal was still the straw the broke the camel’s back. No. 44 was deep in the corner and sent an outlet pass to the far side of the B’s blue line that simply looked gift-wrapped for Sutter the moment it left the defenseman’s stick.

Connolly’s Commendations: It would’ve been great if Khudobin came up with a big stop on any of Pittsburgh’s three third-period strikes, but he was hung out to dry by a Bruins’ squad that spent damn near 80 percent of the game in the defensive zone. Boston’s backup finished with 31 saves on 34 shots (.912 save percentage).

Rich Peverley shifted over to center in Chris Kelly’s absence and was in absolute beast mode at the dot, winning 10-of-13 faceoffs on the night.

Connolly’s Critiques: It was another rough night for Boston’s top-line wingers. Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton were both minus-2 again. Lucic had zero shots and just one hit to his credit. Horton squandered an early scoring chance. The two remain stuck in a rut.

The Merlot Line line was collectively minus-3 with just two shots (both from Greg Campbell) and one hit (Shawn Thornton) on the night.

Notes: Dennis Seidenberg played in his 200th game as a Bruin tonight. Coach Claude Julien elected to put Jay Pandolfo in as the third line left wing, as was expected. Pandolfo (Burlington, Mass.) saw 11:05 of ice time, including 1:39 on the PK.

Final Thoughts: These third-period collapses are getting all too familiar for the Bruins, who aren’t even a week removed from coughing up a three-goal, third-period lead down in Washington against the Caps. Tonight, Fleury was rocking a .600 save percentage after one period. The fact that the B’s didn’t pepper him over the final 40 minutes of play – no matter how fatigued they may have been – is extremely frustrating.

Next: The Bruins will return home to host the Panthers on Thursday night at 7 o’clock.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ