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Talking Points: Craig Smith Plays OT Hero For Boston Bruins

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Here are the Talking Points for the Boston Bruins 3-2 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

GOLD STAR: it was fitting that Craig Smith got the game-winner in overtime after he was all around the net throughout the game. In fact, it was Smith that had a golden chance to score and put things away in the third period after a dogged Brad Marchand puck-hunting play set Smith up with a perfect scoring chance at a key moment in the game. Smith didn’t get the shot off that he wanted there, but instead he finished off a 2-on-0 break in overtime off a David Krejci feed with just 11 seconds remaining in the extra session. Smith had a team-high seven shots on net and 10 overall shot attempts along with a couple of takeaways in 17:37 of very active ice time and continues to being something to the table in terms of third line depth, and as an option that Bruce Cassidy can bump up to the top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in spots. Smith has two goals and four points in five games and has as advertised thus far, and that’s a very good thing for the Bruins.

BLACK EYE: Sid the Kid was not exactly dominant in this one. Sidney Crosby didn’t have his “A” game with the Penguins on Tuesday night. He possibly knock Jake DeBrusk out of the game with a textbook, old school hip check in the first period, but beyond that he finished with a minus-2, just two shots on net and lost 19-of-27 face-offs over the course of the overtime game. Evgeni Malkin had some great chances to win the game in overtime with a couple of breakaways and was a factor throughout the game, but Crosby was largely invisible considering his standing as one of the best players in the league. Crosby played a whopping 22:12 of ice time but didn’t have a ton to show for it when it was all over. He wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t exactly vintage Sid either.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins could have hung their heads after letting in a pair of third period goals to force overtime against the Penguins, and they did allow Evgeni Malkin a pair of Grade-A breakaway chances in overtime. Malkin hit the crossbar on the first breakaway and then Malkin ended up frittering away a 3-on-0 scoring chance later in the OT when Tuukka Rask was able to get a pad on the loose puck in front. That opened the door up for the Bruins to rush the Penguins net while engineering a 2-on-0 odd-man rush with David Krejci and Craig Smith. The B’s didn’t screw that one up with Smith’s goal and it continues a trend where East Division games are coming down to overtime, or shootouts, as the teams battle for playoff position.

HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie McAvoy has been pretty strong all season and he was excellent again on Tuesday night assisting on all three of Boston’s goals while leading the Boston Bruins with 27:34 of ice time. It was McAvoy that made a great play on the shorthanded goal stepping up to turn over a puck from the Penguins after a hot Sidney Crosby pass, and then fed Brad Marchand heading the other way for the highlight reel shorthanded score. McAvoy only had a single shot on net and didn’t have any hits as he wasn’t as overly physical as he is at other times, but he did add a couple blocked shots while controlling the game with the puck on his stick throughout the game. There was nothing sexy about McAvoy’s game on Tuesday, but he looked every bit the No. 1 defenseman that he’s developed into for the Boston Bruins.

BY THE NUMBERS: 28 – the number of shorthanded goals for Brad Marchand, which is the all-time best in Bruins franchise history and makes him the NHL’s active leader in shorthanded goals. The 28 shorthanded goals also puts him a tie for 28th all-time in NHL history with a number of players including Mark Howe Jeremy Roenick, Mike Richards and Rod Brind’Amour among others.

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QUOTE TO NOTE: “We have high expectations for our group no matter who is in or out of the lineup. We expect everybody to perform at their best every night and we push each other. I think that’s a reason why we’re good every year. It’s part of the culture in this room.” –Brad Marchand, on the Bruins overcoming injuries and roster turnover to get off to a 4-1-1 start to the regular season.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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[…] Want the flipside of the Penguins loss? How about the talking points of the Boston Bruins win? (Boston Hockey Now) […]

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