Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, right, fights with Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007. The Penguins beat the Bruins 5-4 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston, MA -- In one of the more entertaining games of the season, the Boston Bruins came back from a 4-0 deficit to tie the Pittsburgh Penguins in regulation and force overtime and eventually a game-deciding shootout. Erik Christensen scored the game-winner in the penalty shot contest and the Pens took the extra point back to PA>
"I am proud of every guy in here tonight," said Boston's Marc Savard, who assisted on the Bruins game-tying goal. "We stayed with it.
"We took the positives out (of our play) and we battled all night.
"That is the kind of hockey we want to play," he said.
The Penguins came to Boston with Sidney Crosby -- a.k.a. Super Sid -- and the Black & Gold hoped to be the Next One's Kryptonite.
But if Crosby was allergic to anything in the Garden, Evgeni Malkin seemed to be immune, and just 55 seconds into the contest he beat Boston netminder Tim Thomas on a short breakaway.
Crosby himself left no doubt as to his own superstar status as he quickly joined his teammate Malkin by scoring a goal at 8:26 -- his 16th of the season.
Malkin then one-upped his line mate at 11:53 with his second of the game and put Boston in a very deep 3-0 hole.
Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, right, stands in his crease as the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate a goal by Sidney Crosby in the first period of their hockey game in Boston, Thursday Dec. 20, 2007. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston captain Zdeno Chara, realized that the game was quickly getting out of hand and looked as if the defenseman was going to box noted NHL tough-guy George Laraque.
However, thanks to the momentum of his first punch, he made like his father Zdenek, an Olympic-level wrestler, and ended the prolonged prelude and posturing to the bout by quickly wrestling Laraque to the ice at 12:30.
The pair attempted to rekindle the fisticuffs after serving minors for delay of game, but again, the excitement was over too quickly as Laraque ended up putting Chara on the ice. Both earned fighting majors at 14:36 for their efforts in the second pairing.
"When Z stands up against the consensus (top) heavyweight in the league when we are down three to nothing it shows that he cares," said Thomas. "He was trying to get the team back into the game.
"So (we thought) we may lose him for a few minutes, but we'll battle (too)."
Meanwhile, on the Pittsburgh end of the ice, former University of New Hampshire Wildcat goaltender Ty Conklin was actually the bulletproof one to start, and had stopped 13 Bruins shots by the end of the first period.
The second period began strangely, as Andrew Ference and Crosby paired off in the corner to Thomas' left and fought out their differences at 5:09. It was Crosby's first fight in the NHL and, in fact, his first major penalty. The fight with Ference also completed "The Kid's" first Gordie Howe hat trick.
But Pittsburgh continued their domination of the contest when Christensen took a feed from former Boston University Terrier defenseman, Ryan Whitney, and beat Thomas cleanly at 11:26 to make the score 4-0 Pitt.
And then everything changed.
First, Boston finally solved Conklin when Marco Sturm tipped one by the Penguins goalie to make the score 4-1 at 16:04.
Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman celebrates his third-period goal, which tied the game at 4-4, forcing overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday Dec. 20, 2007. Pittsburgh won 5-4 in overtime. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
And then veteran Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson put the B's within two with a shorthanded bid, off a terrific play on a face off by Jeremy Reich, at 17:38. The goal sent Pittsburgh to the room for the second intermission nursing at two-goal lead -- a.k.a. "The worst lead in hockey."
Unfortunately, during the second break Boston learned that veteran Bruins sniper Glen Murray had sustained a "mid body injury" and would not return to the game. However, despite the loss of one of their most dangerous goal scorers, the B's did not relent, and nearing the midpoint of the third, had carried play in the session.
And Boston continued to hold sway on the ice, if not the scoreboard, as the period progressed and a late goal from B's rookie Pettri Nokelainen (13:14) put the Bruins within one goal, 4-3, with less than seven minutes to play.
Finally, and with an improvised power play unit on the ice, Boston tied the game, 4-4.
Defenseman Dennis Wideman, using a screen, fired a puck through that crowd and also past Conklin to send the TD Banknorth Garden, now in witness to a amazing Bruins comeback, into delirium at 17:05.
"We did the opposite of what we would have done in the past," said Wideman. "We came out...and found ourselves behind the eight ball.
"But I think it was a great stepping stone for us to come out and be able to come back and tie that game up and at least get a point out of it."
Thomas was tested down the stretch, but sent the game to OT with some heroics of is own. Pittsburgh themselves fought with desperation in the 4-on-4 period, but despite their not being able to mount much of an attack, the Bruins held on for a shootout.
"They made some pretty nice plays," admitted a disappointed Thomas. "(But) we caught on to some of the plays and were able to nullify them as the game went on."
That set up UVM (Thomas) versus UNH (Conklin) for the penalty shot contest.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang scores as he shoots over Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas to score in overtime during an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007. The Penguins beat the Bruins 5-4. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Conklin, who had to make 37 saves in three periods plus OT, was able to put a pad on the shots he saw in the shootout and his teammate Christensen scored the game winner against Thomas to give Pittsburgh the 5-4 win.
"Obviously we came out on the short end," explained Savard post-contest, "but we got a point (despite) not being totally satisfied."
Boston head coach Claude Julien seemed pleased with his team's ability to salvage the evening.
"We certainly weren't satisfied with the first half of our game," he said. "And we were heading toward embarrassment there.
"At the same time, you have to give those guys credit for bouncing back and at least getting a point.
"We are certainly not satisfied, because we should have had a win in our building...but we have some banged up players here who are working through some injuries and we have to give them credit for coming back," Julien said.
Boston will practice tomorrow before taking on the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
· With tonight's shootout point, the Bruins continued their record as the only team in the league to not go consecutive games with regulation losses. The Bruins have not gone two straight games without gaining at least one point.
· The Bruins erased a four goal deficit tonight to send the game into overtime. The last time the B's came back from an 0-4 deficit was on April 20, 1995 when the Ottawa Sentors took a 4-0 lead and the Black & Gold earned a 6-5 victory.
· P. J. Axelsson's shorthanded goal at 17:38 of the third period was the Bruins second shorthanded goal of the season.
· Axelsson has figured in both shorthanded tallies with an assist on chuck kobasew's shorthanded strike October 6 in phoenix.