BOSTON -- The Penguins finally showed up and played their best game of the series thus far, but it wasn't enough, as Bruins center Patrice Bergeron scored 15:19 into double overtime to give the Bruins a 2-1 win and a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bruins wouldn't have escaped regulation if not for the goaltending of Tuukka Rask, who made 53 saves and has now allowed just two goals on 110 shots in the series.
Boston took an early lead on a David Krejci goal 1:42 into regulation, but Chris Kunitz tied it for Pittsburgh 8:51 into the second period. From then on it was a goaltending duel between Rask and Tomas Vokoun, who made 39 saves for the Penguins.
The Bruins have a chance to sweep the Penguins in Game 4 on Friday at TD Garden and advance to the Stanley Cup finals.
Rask ready as Pens wake up: With the exception of the first period of Game 1, Rask had not faced the pressure one would expect from the league's best offense. But that offense was bound to wake up, and when it did in Game 3, the Bruins netminder was ready. Rask had some help from the posts at times, but he once again showed why he is truly a No. 1 goalie. He was the main reason the Bruins made it to overtime, making a late save on Kunitz, and then had two big stops on Pascal Dupuis late in the first overtime. Rask continues to be there for his teammates.
"I don't think any of us can really relate to what happens in the net," Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said. "It takes a rare species to do what they do and be as concentrated as they are. We're in the flow of the game and get to be up and down, up and down and sometimes they have to just sit there and just wait for some action. I honestly can't relate to what they go through to be mentally sharp. They're different birds."
Marchand-Bergeron OT connection strikes again: Following the Bruins' 3-2 overtime win over the Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in which he took a Bergeron feed in front to win the game, Marchand was asked how many times he and Bergeron would try that play in overtime, since it's how Bergeron scored off a Marchand feed to win Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Toronto. "Until it doesn't work anymore," Marchand had said. It's still working, as Wednesday's winner was almost exactly the same play.
"Well, that's what happens when you've been together for three years," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "As a duo anyways, they've learned to play with each other extremely well, and as you probably know, obviously Jags made a big play in front of their bench to get the puck to them, but, it's about driving the net, and Bergy drove hard and had a guy on him and managed to get his stick in the right place and March made a great play. He was extremely patient. He could've got rid of that puck a little bit earlier, but he waited for Bergy to get in position before he slid over."
Jagr gets better as game wears on: Jaromir Jagr, 41, appeared to have the best legs in overtime, as he battled hard along the boards to retrieve the puck and get it up to Marchand, who then fed it to Bergeron for the winner. The veteran winger and future Hall of Famer paced himself with his puck smarts, and then used his reserve energy to help his team win it.
"Obviously the first couple of days, guys were in awe of him because you've seen all the highlights and you've seen what he's capable of through his career," Ference said. "But then as time passes, the way that he works, tries to perfect himself and tries to learn and always better himself, I think guys respect that. And not only that, he's not too good to not buy into what we're trying to do or make plays that don't have a chance of getting on his highlight reel. When he's inducted into the hall of fame, those plays tonight and the last game aren't going to make it on the highlights but they got us wins. He's doing the little things that it takes this time of year to help his linemates and put us over the top."
Krejci train keeps rolling along Krejci's first-period goal was his ninth of the playoffs and another example of just how hot the Czech center is. On the goal, Krejci came out of the corner looking to pass and threw it across in front, but it got deflected in by a Penguins player and the Bruins had an early 1-0 lead 1:42 into regulation. Krejci now leads the NHL in playoff points with 21 and goals with nine.
Penalty kill strong, but power play fails in clutch: The Bruins' penalty kill wasn't its usual self in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but Boston is once again dominating in the conference finals. Boston has now killed off 12 straight Pittsburgh power plays. The Bruins' PK was a huge factor in helping the them get to overtime. On the flip side, the Bruins power-play woes have returned. They went 0-for-5 and failed to capitalize on two man advantages in the third period that could've broken the 1-1 deadlock.
Campbell all guts: Late in the second period with the Penguins on the power play, Bruins center Gregory Campbell blocked an Evgeni Malkin shot and was clearly in pain as he appeared to injure his leg. But instead of staying down or heading to the bench and leaving his team in a 5-on-3 jam, Campbell stayed on to help his teammates and even broke up a pass as the Bruins eventually cleared the puck and stopped the sustained pressure by the Penguins. In fact, that gave the Bruins momentum, and they ended up with some solid scoring chances that forced the Penguins to use their timeout. Campbell did not return, and Tyler Seguin double-shifted, taking Campbell's spot between Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille.
"He's a man that he does whatever the team needs, and he's willing to sacrifice his body," captain Zdeno Chara said. "For sure it was an outstanding block by him and you saw that the rest of the time he spent on that kill he was willing to do whatever he could on that one leg, so this one is for sure for him."
Second- and third-period blues: The Bruins had arguably their worst period of the series in the third period in Game 3. They were outshot 15-4 and many times looked to be playing prevent defense instead of the aggressive style that earned them a 2-0 series lead heading into this game. In the second period, they were outshot 15-11, gave the Penguins three power plays (though the first one on Krejci for roughing was questionable) and played mediocre hockey at best. Thankfully for the Bruins, Rask was ready, and the Penguins were able to muster just the one goal.
Crowd makes presence felt: While the Bruins gave them something to cheer about early with Krejci's goal, the 17,565 fans on hand for Game 3 at TD Garden made their presence felt throughout the game. Even as the Bruins struggled in the second period, when Kunitz's goal tied the game at 1-1, Bruins fans were still loud and let their team know they were behind them. They should applaud themselves for truly giving the Bruins home advantage.
Lineup remains the same: There were no changes in the lineup from Game 3, and with the way things had gone through the first two games, why would there be? Here's what the forward lines and defensive pairings looked like.
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jaromir Jagr
Rich Peverley-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid