Boston’s Patrice Bergeron scored 15 minutes, 19 seconds into the second overtime to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday and a 3-0 series lead in the NHL Eastern Conference finals.
The victory put Boston firmly in control of the best-of-seven series to advance to the Stanley Cup finals when they host Game 4 tonight.
“It was a battle. They played hard all night,” Bergeron said. “It was a tough game, we found a way.”
David Krejci also scored for Boston in the first period. He leads the playoffs in scoring with nine goals and 12 assists.
Chris Kunitz scored Pittsburgh’s only goal in the second.
That left it 1-1 after two periods, and it stayed that way through two more. However, 4:41 before the second overtime was to expire, Brad Marchand grabbed the puck along the left-wing boards and centered it, where Bergeron redirected it past Tomas Vokoun and into the net.
“That was a great play by March,” Bergeron said. “I just was trying to get open going to the net and he found my stick.”
That set off a celebration in Boston — the first for the Bruins at home this series after they won the first two games of the series in Pittsburgh 3-0 and 6-1. It is the first time all season that Pittsburgh have lost three consecutive games.
The good news for the Penguins: The last of three teams to blow a 3-0 lead in an NHL playoff series was Boston, when they lost four in a row to Philadelphia in the 2010 Eastern Conference semi-finals.
After two Boston blowouts, the Penguins matched the Bruins and even outshot them 39-25 in regulation — including a third period in which Pittsburgh held a 14-4 advantage, despite two Boston power plays. The Bruins did not muster a shot in the final 7:30 of regulation.
However, the Bruins had the better chances in overtime, including Nathan Horton’s breakaway that Vokoun turned aside just 2:21 in and another shot by Horton that went off the right post with 12:25 on the clock.
Pittsburgh forced Boston goalie Tuuka Rask to make a save with five minutes left in the first OT, when Craig Adams tried to poke home a rebound.
“That surprise me? No,” Bergeron said of Rask’s play. “He is doing everything now. He is awesome.”
The Bruins scored just 102 seconds into the game, when Krejci circled around the net and took a slap-shot that caromed in off Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen.
However, the Penguins tied it in the second, when Kunitz one-timed a pass from Paul Martin over Rask’s right shoulder.
Pittsburgh went none-for-six on power plays. Boston was none-for-five.