PITTSBURGH – Better late than never, right?
After failing to beat goalie Anton Khudobin for more than 53 minutes, the Pittsburgh Penguins scored three times to defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2 before 18,640 at Consol Energy Center Tuesday night.
Brandon Sutter scored the last two goals as the Penguins extended their winning streak to a season-best six games.
“It’s a good finish to a tough game,” Sutter said.
The Penguins fell behind 2-0 in the first period, and then had to contend with Boston’s defense and a strong performance from Khudobin, who started for just the sixth time in 24 games.
On a night when Sidney Crosby was shut out and Evgeni Malkin (upper body injury) sat out, the Penguins got another goal from Chris Kunitz and two from Sutter, who had his second multiple-goal game this month. The three goals came in a span of 4:15.
“I thought in the second and third periods, we definitely got to our game,” Crosby said. “I think we believed if we kept going, we would eventually get the puck in. It seemed like it took forever.”
The Penguins had 34 shots and 5:34 of power play time, including a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 1:05. Khudobin stopped Greg Adams on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush with Matt Cooke, and James Neal hit a post early in the third period.
Despite the zero on the scoreboard, the Penguins didn’t lose their focus, Bylsma said.
“We didn’t let frustration set in,” he said.
That would have been easy to do because the Bruins are the NHL’s best defensive team.
“They were true to form,” Bylsma said. “They’re tough to play against.”
A couple of factors may have been at work in the comeback. As the game wore on, Bylsma moved Sutter up to the second line, working with Neal and Beau Bennett. Boston played on Monday night and traveled, which could have led to some fatigue at the end of the game.
Kunitz scored at 13:42, his 18th of the season. He moved to the right faceoff dot and was in position to one-time Kris Letang’s cross-ice pass in off Khudobin’s arm.
“That changed the whole game,” Sutter said. “We were kind of stuck in a rut and that gave us some jump.”
Sutter’s first goal at 14:33 tied the score. Bennett got a Milan Lucic turnover in the neutral zone, and moved the puck ahead to Neal. Neal made a nice backhand pass, and Sutter finished the play with a shot under Khudobin’s glove.
“We stuck with it, put more pucks on net and they started going in,” Sutter said. “It’s a big boost. To squeeze it out in the last few minutes is huge.”
Sutter’s winning goal started when he picked off defenseman Dennis Seidenberg’s attempted clearing pass. The other defenseman, Johnny Boychuk, tried to block the shot, but Sutter was able to put a hard 12-foot wrist shot over Khudobin’s glove.
Sutter had just jumped on the ice on a line change. Crosby was still on the ice and was available at the side of the net as a passing option for an easy tap-in, but Sutter opted to shoot.
“I was definitely waiting for it,” Crosby said with a smile. “He made a great shot and I was happy to see it in the back of the net.”
Zdeno Chara scored a power play goal for the Bruins at 4:45 of the first, launching a shot from the right point that hit Matc-Andre Fleury’s stick and deflected in off the cross bar.
Tyler Seguin made it 2-0 at 13:30 when he fired in Patrice Bergeron’s pass from eight feet.
“We didn’t give them a lot, but they got two goals,” Bylsma said.
The teams will meet again at Consol Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
The Penguins have had three third-period comebacks, second only to Edmonton’s four in the NHL. …Pascal Dupuis had a game-high six hits. …Letang put eight shots on goal and attempted four other shots. …The Penguins have won eight of the last 10 at home. … Boston had been 11-0-1 when scoring first. … The Penguins play at Toronto Thursday at 7 p.m.