BOSTON — The Pittsburgh Penguins are using hard work in the absence of captain Sidney Crosby and finding ways to win.
The effort added up to an overtime road victory against the Boston Bruins.
Dustin Jeffrey scored his second goal of the game 1:52 into OT and the Penguins snapped the Bruins’ winning streak at seven with a 3-2 decision on Saturday night.
“I just think it shows our team character,” Jeffrey said. “We talk about the losses, but we’re getting points, even if they’re overtime losses. We’re keeping pace and we’re two points behind the conference leader. With 16 or 17 games left, it’s something that we can reach.”
The Penguins moved two points behind Eastern Conference- and Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots, and Jordan Staal also scored for Pittsburgh, which had won only one of the previous seven — including four overtime losses.
Pittsburgh was again without Crosby, who missed his 26th game with a concussion, but Fleury kept the Penguins in it. Boston outshot Pittsburgh 7-2 early, getting a few good scoring chances.
“As we’ve said all year, we have a standard of the way we want to play,” forward Matt Cooke said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Sid and Geno (Evgeni Malkin) or it’s (Craig Adams) and Dusty (Jeffrey), we want to play that way. We want to model our team around a certain standard, and we’ve done that successfully. That’s our focus.”
David Krejci got the Bruins even at 2 when he scored with 33 seconds left in regulation while Boston goalie Tim Thomas was pulled for an extra skater.
Zdeno Chara had the other goal for Boston, which was on its longest winning streak since a 10-game run from Dec. 12, 2008, to Jan. 1, 2009.
Thomas finished with 37 saves but was beaten for the winning goal when Jeffrey broke in alone, after he stole a pass from defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. He got the goalie out of position and tucked a shot in.
Jeffrey recently returned after missing six games with an undisclosed lower body injury. He has seven goals in 18 games this season.
“They’ve been less offensive, obviously, without Sidney, but they played a very good game,” Thomas said. “They’re playing very well together. They’re big, they’re strong and they did a good job of keeping the puck in.”
Krejci had tied it with a wrist shot from the slot after he took a feed from Nathan Horton. The goal came seconds after Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle blocked Cooke’s shot after Thomas had vacated the net.
“When you work hard you get rewarded,” Boston coach Claude Julien said of the Penguins. “They got a break and got the puck in the net.”
Boston took a 1-0 lead on Chara’s goal 7:26 into the second period. Krejci made a soft backhand pass from the boards to Chara, who moved into the slot and beat Fleury with a rising wrist shot for his first goal since his first hat trick in a win over Carolina on Jan. 17.
Pittsburgh tied it seconds after Fleury made a nice save on Johnny Boychuk’s hard shot from the point. Staal finished a 2-on-1 break with Tyler Kennedy by slipping the puck behind Thomas, who moved across to try to cut down Kennedy’s angle.
Just 70 seconds later, the Penguins made it 2-1 on Jeffrey’s first goal.
“We’ve been battling hard in games and maybe not getting the two points and coming out on the back end on some overtimes,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “Tonight, getting down early in the game and responding right away with the goal … and then to keep going and get the lead.”
Fleury’s best save came 2½ minutes in when Michael Ryder made a move in front and was in alone. Fleury denied him with a splendid left pad save as Ryder tried to tuck the puck inside the right post.
Horton broke free about 5 minutes later, but Fleury cut down the angle and made a pad stop on a wrist shot from the right circle. Brad Marchand had a good chance early in the third, but he shot into Fleury’s pads from the bottom of the left circle.
The Bruins won both games in Pittsburgh with late rallies, but the Penguins earned two victories in Boston.
Notes: Boston C Patrice Bergeron left the team for personal reasons on Friday and is expected to return Monday. … Bruins D Steven Kampfer was out with an undisclosed injury. … Penguins LW Cooke played his 800th NHL game. … Former Bruins great Milt Schmidt turned 93. He got a big ovation when they showed his birthday on the video board, and the public address announcer said he was watching the game on TV. … Boston D Matt Bartkowski played his third game of the season, all against Pittsburgh. … Bruins RW Mark Recchi played his 1,636th game, moving into sixth place on the NHL career list.