BOSTON -- It would have been pretty easy for the Bruins to fail the Monday night gut-check test, but instead they passed with flying colors after a disastrous ending to the third period.
As the clock wound down on regulation, Sidney Crosby freed himself on the doorstep with the Penguins goalie pulled for an extra skater, and he banged home the game-tying goal for Pittsburgh with 0.3 seconds remaining. A video review of the play provided irrefutable evidence that Crosby's goal was good, which meant it was once again going to overtime for the Black and Gold.
Never mind the circumstance behind the game-tying goal. Things had to be frustrating for a group of players that pride themselves on taking players like Crosby right out of the game plan.
“It’s crazy how it happened, but there’s no room to sit back and sulk. You’ve got to make sure you get in there and get right back at it,” said defenseman Torey Krug. “Otherwise they’re going to take advantage of something, you know, a guy sulking or something.”
Rather than hang their heads, or wonder where the coverage had wandered off to when the Face of the NHL tied the game, the Bruins knew they needed to compose themselves headed into overtime.
That meant putting three forwards and a defenseman out on the ice for the 4-on-4 overtime session, and taking the action to the Penguins. The Bruins nearly scored on a Jarome Iginla rush that split the defense to start the overtime session, and that set up Krug’s sizzling game-winner less than a minute into overtime.
“Things happen and it doesn’t matter when the goals get scored. Honestly, you’re always kind of mad about that, but we didn’t let that bother us,” said Tuukka Rask. “We went out there in overtime and took the puck to their zone, and then scored a goal. I think that’s a great sign for a hockey team that you don’t get down on yourself after a goal like that.”
None of it should be surprising, however. Even a newcomer like Krug has experienced the ultimate highs and lows of a Stanley Cup Final run, and knows how to roll with the regular season punches that might be headed his way.
“We were okay. We’ve been through these kinds of situations before, and I think the experience of that has helped us out. We were calm, and we just got ourselves ready for the overtime,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “To me, when you get scored like that late, it can be devastating for certain teams.
“But it just made us probably a little hungrier. We went out there and showed some character and ended it early.”
The kind of character Julien is referring to is the fading memories of playoff collapses that build composure and calmness in the worst of circumstances. That’s exactly what the Bruins called upon when Sid the Kid tried to play hero at the end of the third period Monday night in Boston.
But instead, the Bruins' playoff experience and unwillingness to get down on bended knee once again prevented them from breaking when the Penguins attempted to get one last laugh in Boston.