Haggerty: Thoughts from Penguins-B's Game 3

Haggerty: Thoughts from Penguins-B's Game 3
June 5, 2013, 9:15 pm
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BOSTON -- Five thoughts from the third period with the Bruins and Penguins locked at 1-1 and headed to overtime in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden.

1) Penguins bringing it now. Outshot the Bruins by a 14-5 margin in the third period, and Bruins are looking slow and sluggish. Boston was just hanging on for overtime.

2) Crosby and Malkin have both been better tonight. Crosby won a faceoff leading to Penguins goal, and both players have hit posts. Penguins really starting to gather some confidence and make it a series.

3) Gregory Campbell with the heroic PK blocking a shot that knocked him out second period after finishing shift, but wasn't out there for the third period. Word is there were crutches immediately brought downstairs to the Bruins dressing room, so that's not a good sign.

4) 38 saves for Tuukka Rask. He has been magnificent in this one, and the only reason it's going to overtime.

5) Matt Cooke has really worked with James Neal and Evgeni Malkin. He's been a factor, an irritant and a guy that Boston has to account for, and he's stayed out of Malkin's way. Dan Bylsma may be onto something.

Five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins tied at a 1-1 score after the first 40 minutes in Game 3 at TD Garden:

1) Penguins get a series of power play chances in the second period, and lo and behold they finally got on the board and managed their first non-0-0 tie of the series. You can see Pittsburgh starting to get a foothold and gain some confidence here as the game is moving along, and start to see why the Penguins are such a difficult team to deal with. Plenty of skill, speed and creativity, but every little toughness and grit when it comes to playoff time.

2) Speaking of grit and toughness, Gregory Campbell showed all kinds of it in the second period on Boston’s last PK of the period. Campbell dove to block an Evgeni Malkin shot and took it off the outside of the ankle area where there isn’t a whole lot of padding. He couldn’t put any weight on the ankle, but somehow managed to courageously finish out the entire rest of the penalty kill before hobbling off the ice. He went down the runway and wasn’t seen after that point, but the Bruins played with a different kind of energy after that point. Inspiring stuff.

3) Twenty-four saves for Tuukka Rask, including some of his best in the second period. He made two stops on James Neal during one Pittsburgh power play, and then made a great save with left leg pad on a Beau Bennett big while cutting through the slot. He had zero chance to stop the goal as S Crosby beat Patrice Bergeron in an offensive zone face-off, and Jaromir Jagr blew his defensive assignment on Chris Kunitz waiting all alone in the left circle.

4) Following Rask’s save on Bennett, Tyler Seguin had a golden chance as a trailer with a free shot at the net, but he missed high and wide with a shot that immediately started moving back to the Boston defensive zone. What could have been a huge momentum-shifter turned into a big fat nothing when No. 19 couldn’t hit the net. He needs to do better. At least if he hits the net instead of trying to pick a corner in that situation, the Bruins can get some pressure in the offensive zone or push for an O-zone face-off. Not a very smart play in hockey IQ terms.

5) Tomas Vokoun was getting better as the second period went along. He left a lot of rebounds around in the first 20-plus minutes, but found his range in the second when he made a series of stops including one skate blade stop on a Zdeno Chara one-timer in the closing seconds of the period. Dan Bylsma certainly made the right choice going back to Vokoun in this game.


Five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins leading the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 1-0 score after the first 20 minutes of action in Game 3 at TD Garden:

1) Kris Letang has been on ice for 7 of the 10 goals allowed by the Penguins in this series. Claude Julien keeps getting Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and David Krejci out on the ice when Letang is defending in his own zone, and predictably it’s turning into an offensive bonanza for the Black and Gold. Pairing him with Matt Niskanen makes it even worse as they have zero strength or size in front of the net, and Lucic was able to dominate the front of the net and give Krejci room to shoot a puck off Niskanen’s skate for the only goal. Letang is a minus-6 in the series, and had several turnovers in his own end through the period.

2) Evgeni Malkin continues to be the best of Pittsburgh’s All-Star cast, and had some of the best chances among the Penguins 10 shots in the first period. He was also clearly frustrated at the end of the first when slashing Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic in the final shift of the period. They clearly have the Russian forward out of his game, and just need to keep at it. In general, the first was one of the better periods Pittsburgh has played in the series, but they still find themselves trailing against a team that’s defending them well.

3) The Bruins have never trailed in this series, and have held the lead for more than 90 percent of the games. The Penguins can’t hope to win or establish their offensive game when they play that way.

4)  The Bruins penalty kill has the Pittsburgh power play 0-for-7 through three games, but the Penguins looked like they were on the verge of clicking in the first period. At one point, Chris Kunitz couldn’t handle a Sidney Crosby tic-tac-toe touch pass right in front of the net, and it was a big moment when he had a clean shot at the Boston net from the slot area.
5) Joe Vitale going after Patrice Bergeron and wiping out a potential Pittsburgh power play on a Johnny Boychuk interference call, and James Neal causing an offsides whistle on an offensive rush for the Penguins when he was mixing it up with Jaromir Jagr just inside the blue line. Two examples of the Penguins continuing to make undisciplined mistakes that really cost a team at this time of year.