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Penguins collapse against Bruins

| Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011

Rock bottom had a homecoming Monday night at Consol Energy Center.

Four unanswered goals by the Boston Bruins erased a two-goal deficit with 3 1/2 minutes remaining and lifted them past the Penguins, 4-2.

This collapse by the Penguins came exactly two months to the day that the Bruins scored five unanswered goals to erase a two-goal deficit to leave this building with a 7-4 win.

"A two-goal lead is the worst thing in hockey," Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek said.

Think so?

How about two late penalties taken by defensive-minded players, each wearing an "A" to signify their status at an alternate captain?

Former Penguin winger Mark Recchi's goal with 50 seconds pushed the Bruins ahead, 3-2.

Penguins center Jordan Staal, arguably among the NHL's best penalty-killing forwards, was in the sin bin for holding when Recchi, his former Pittsburgh landlord, scored.

The Bruins had pulled even with 3:11 remaining on center Brad Marchand's goal. He scored 12 seconds after defenseman Zdeno knuckled a shot past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik was in the penalty box for Chara's goal. He had committed a boarding minor against Bruins winger Blake Wheeler.

The two players were racing toward the puck as it neared the boards, and Orpik caught Wheeler.

"He looked right at me and saw me coming," Orpik said. "I guess it's a difference of opinion there. If I'm in the same position, I've got to protect myself a little better. It's tough for me to hold up there."

Holding third-period leads are becoming a problem for the Penguins, who have dropped three games when ahead at the second intermission.

They've dropped at least four games at home during which they held a third-period lead.

"We have to get that killer instinct," forward Mike Rupp said. "This should have been a tap-in. We were up two goals. That should be a gimme."

Fleury's teammates didn't help by were turning over pucks in the final period.

"Our goaltender played outstanding," coach Dan Bylsma said of Fleury, who made 28 saves and faced 12 third-period shots.

Rupp had scored at 11:39 of the second period, his first goal in 13 games and the Penguins' first marker in 154:01 dating to last Thursday night at Montreal. Defenseman Kris Letang's power-play goal less than four minutes later seemed to have the Penguins set up well for a welcome win.

However, they arrived from the second period seemingly in a turnover-happy mood, and the Bruins converted those mistakes -- first into momentum, then into quality chances, finally into goals.

Boston center Gregory Campbell scored into an open net with 8 seconds remaining.

By then, a sellout crowd had been silenced.

From their seats in the media area, general manager Ray Shero pursed his lips, while under his breath goalie coach Gilles Meloche uttered expletives at replays of the Bruins' goals.

The Penguins have played too well for this loss to be a rock-bottom moment. They were 7-8-1 after that home loss to the Bruins Nov. 10.

They are 19-6-3 since and 26-14-4 (56 points) overall, but they are on a 1-3-2 run and are just 5-6-2 since the end of a 12-game winning streak.

About last night: Rupp said, "I don't even know what happened."

Dejà vu is like that.

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Pens vs. Bruins

Pens vs. Bruins

The Pittsburgh Penguins host the Boston Bruins Monday, January 10, 2011 at the Consol Energy Center.

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