By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
With three goals in the first 15:07 of play, the Bruins looked poised to run Matt Murray and the Penguins out of their own building on Sunday afternoon. But Bruce Cassidy and Co.’s struggles with multi-goal leads continued — and in brutal fashion — as the Bruins blew a three-goal lead and fell to the Pens by a 4-3 final at PPG Paints Arena.
Patrice Bergeron wasted no time cracking this one open for the B’s, as he struck for his 21st goal of the season just 11 seconds into the game, and Anders Bjork made it a two-goal lead for the B’s just 1:51 later.
Up two, a turnaround finish from David Pastrnak made it 3-0 for the Bruins on No. 88’s 37th goal of the season, and the Bruins carried a two-goal lead into the first intermission after Dominik Simon put Pittsburgh on the board.
The Penguins switched roles with the quick-starting Bruins in both the second and third period, too, as Teddy Blueger scored 33 seconds into the second period, and a Jack Johnson shorthanded blast scored 1:41 into the third period brought the black-and-golden rivals back even for the first time since the 10-second mark of the first period.
And all the Penguins needed to finally jump ahead in this one was a behind-the-net gaffe from Charlie McAvoy, which put the puck on Evgeni Malkin’s stick and to Bryan Rust for Rust’s 21st goal of the year, scored with 7:25 left in regulation.
Chasing after the game for the final seven minutes of play, the Bruins were unable to get anything by Murray, and their 6-on-5 sequence with two minutes remaining in regulation was a straight-up disaster before Matt Grzelcyk had to trip Brandon Tanev to deny Pittsburgh an empty-net goal.
Overall, this was the Black and Gold’s fourth time blowing a lead of at least three goals (second time against the Penguins) this season, and the first time that it resulted in a regulation loss for Cassidy’s squad. This latest blown lead joins a list including the aforementioned Nov. 4 win over Pittsburgh, Nov. 12 shootout loss to Florida, and last week’s shootout loss to the Flyers.
In fact, with the Bruins entering the third period with a 200-1-6 record since 2010-11 when leading by at least three goals, this was the B’s first regulation loss in a game when leading by three since an Apr. 4, 2011 loss to the Rangers. Nearly nine years ago. But that stat now reads 200-2-6, and with three of those losses coming in the last three months.
Halak finished with 18 saves on 22 shots, while Murray finished strong with 34 saves (and 14 massive ones in the third).
David Krejci, meanwhile, missed his second straight game due to an upper-body injury.
The Bruins will return to Boston for a Tuesday night meeting with the Golden Knights.