Scary Gary Puts Up 3-Points, Pens Beat Bruins 4-2

The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Boston Bruins for the 2nd time in 4-days on Sunday by a score of 4-2.  Unlike Thursday’s game in Boston, the Penguins held onto the lead in the 3rd period and managed to score an empty net insurance goal to seal the win.  Pittsburgh’s reserve netminder Ty Conklin was once again in net and had a fine performance turning away 28 of 30 Boston shots on goal.  The win gave the Penguins 38 points (18-16-2), and launched them from last place to 2nd place in the log-jammed Atlantic Division, ahead of the Rangers who also have 38-points, but less wins (17-15-4).  The Rangers lost to the Senators on Sunday. 

For the Penguins, it wasn’t just a win……there were other items to take note of.  First, the Penguins found offense outside of their 1st line with 3 of the 4 Pittsburgh goals coming from the 3rd line of Erik Christensen, Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque.  Second, Gary Roberts picked up 3-points (2G, 1A, including the empty net insurance tally) and was awarded the game’s 1st star for his performance.  The goals were Roberts’ 2nd and 3rd of the season and first since October 17th.  Third, Erik Christensen turned in a good performance in his natural position at center, picking up 2 assists on Sunday and scoring 4-points (2G, 2A) in his last 3 games.  Fourth, Ty Conklin had a confidence-building 0.934 save percentage win, giving up 2-goals and keeping the Penguins on top in the 3rd period, despite being outshot 11-8.  Lastly, any time that “big Georges Laraque” picks up 2-points (1G, 1A), you just have to feel that things are going well.  Noting their supporting role performances, Gary Roberts said, “We’ve all got to chip in and we’re going to need that for the remainder of the season to win hockey games.”   On the down side, Defenseman Mark Eaton sustained a knee injury in the second period as a Boston player threw a slew foot behind the net that was missed by the refs, but obvious on the video replay.  Eaton left the game and didn’t return.    

In the first period, Boston got on the board first with an early goal from P.J. Axelsson at 3:48 from Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard.  The Boston goal held up as the only tally in the first, with the Bruins outshooting the Penguins 12-10.  The Penguins were 0-for-2 on the power play in the period, including 1:36 of 5-on-3 time.  They killed off the only short-handed situation as Crosby sat for 2-minutes for slashing. 

In the second, the Penguins came to life and scored 3-goals to put them up 3-1.  The 1st came off the stick of Gary Roberts at 2:16.  Working the cycle along the boards, Erik Christensen backhanded the puck to Georges Laraque who was behind the net.  Laraque quickly threw the the puck to the front of the net onto the stick of Gary Roberts who shot the puck past Alexander Auld to tie the game at 1.  Then at 13:04 while on the powerplay, Evgeni Malkin put a blazing shot past Auld from the sideboards after taking a beautiful pass from the center of the ice from Jordan Staal.  Sergei Gonchar picked up the other assist, the 400th of his career.  Then, just 30 seconds later, it was Laraque who capitalized on the third line rampage tapping in a Gary Roberts pass as he drove the net on a 2-on-2 play to make it 3-1.  The goal was Laraque’s 2nd of the season and 50th of his 9-year career.  Erik Christensen picked up the other assist, his 2nd of the night.  Georges Laraque noted that “I like playing with those two guys and hopefully it will keep going.”  The way they have played of late, he may just get his wish.   ”Gary, Christensen and Laraque really set the tone for this game,” coach Michel Therrien said. “They played well.”  Shots were even at 7 in the 2nd, with the Penguins going 1-for-2 on the powerplay and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill. 

Boston pressed the Penguins late in the 3rd when Petteri Nokelainen scored a goal with just 54 seconds to go in the game, while the Bruins’ netminder Auld was pulled from the net.  The Penguins held on, however, and picked up the empty net insurance goal from Gary Roberts, his second tally of the night, with just 10 seconds left in the game.  Sidney Crosby and Colby Armstrong were credited with the assist.  The Penguins were 0-for-1 on the man advantage in the third and killed off their only shorthanded situation.  The Penguins were outshot 11-8 in the final frame.  For Penguins’ netminder Ty Conklin, it was his 2nd start and 2nd win, both coming against the Bruins. 

GAME HIGHLIGHTS VIDEO

The Penguins take a few days rest at home before playing host to the Washington Capitals on Thursday, December 27th, at Mellon Arena.

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