Penguins, Sutter rally past stunned Bruins
The crowd was on its feet, the Boston Bruins were battered and the world's greatest hockey player wanted the puck.
Brandon Sutter, however, took care of business on his own. It was, after all, his night.
Sutter capped off a furious comeback as the Penguins' offensive machine finally came to life in a 3-2 comeback victory against the Bruins on Tuesday at Consol Energy Center.
“I was definitely waiting for it,” said Sidney Crosby, who was anticipating a pass from Sutter during the two-on-one with 2:03 remaining.
“Hopefully, guys will just make the right play.”
Crosby has never looked happier after snapping one of his scoring streaks, this one of eight games.
Sutter, like on his game-tying goal 3:26 earlier, took the wrist shot and buried it against Bruins goaltender Anton Khodobin. The Penguins scored three goals in a 4:15 span to rally from a 2-0 deficit.
“I think Sid will be all right for a day,” Sutter said. “He's already jabbed me a bit. But it's a good win for us.”
The Penguins have won six consecutive games, opened a commanding nine-point lead in the Atlantic Division and are tied with Montreal atop the Eastern Conference with 38 points.
Red-hot left wing Chris Kunitz, a catalyst during this winning streak, ignited the Penguins' rally with 6:18 remaining when he buried a one-timer from defenseman Kris Letang.
“Our team felt like we were going to get another goal,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
Instead, the Penguins got two, and Bylsma's optimism wasn't without reason.
Midway through the second period, the Penguins began to take control. Boston went ahead early on goals by two of its stars, defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Tyler Seguin.
The Bruins, perhaps fatigued after playing Monday in Ottawa, went into a conservative formation, all five skaters frequently skating backwards through the neutral during the game's final 30 minutes. The Penguins outshot the Bruins, 34-16.
“We definitely got to our game in the second and third periods,” said Crosby, who said he sensed Boston was tiring. “We earned it.”
The Penguins still hadn't scored midway through the third period, and when they squandered a two-man advantage that lasted 65 seconds, the Bruins looked poised to hang on.
The goals from Kunitz and Sutter changed everything.
After Sutter had evened the game, he was the first player on the ice for a line change when Kunitz skated to the bench. Bylsma explained that even though Kunitz is a winger, he prefers centers hit the ice first during line changes for defensive purposes.
And in this case, Sutter turned defense into offense.
The center, acquired from Carolina as part of the trade for Jordan Staal, picked off defenseman Dennis Seidenberg's pass at the Boston blue line.
With Crosby open on the right wing, Sutter had the choice to pass to the NHL's leading scorer or take the shot.
“As soon as I got the puck,” Sutter said, “I saw him. I was thinking pass. Then, (defenseman Johnny Boychuk) went down. I either had to make a nice pass or just shoot it, just a read and react.”
He read the play correctly, and the crowd reacted boisterously in one of Consol's signature moments.
“I'm glad,” Letang said, “that he made the right decision.”