BOSTON -- He was, Dany Sabourin allowed, "a little bit nervous" before the Penguins played Boston last night.
And he should have been.
Not just about being able to stop pucks, but about remembering how to find his way to the goal crease.
It had, after all, been eight months -- since Feb. 21 in Montreal, to be precise -- since Sabourin appeared in a game that counted.
• Game: Penguins vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7:30 p.m.
• Where: Mellon Arena.
• TV: FSN Pittsburgh.
And maybe that layoff showed. Perhaps if he had played a little more often, Sabourin would have stopped all 36 shots Boston threw at him instead of just 35.
As it was, he had to settle for allowing the Penguins (4-2-1) to earn a 2-1 shootout victory against Boston at the TD Banknorth Garden, punctuating a superb showing in regulation and overtime by rejecting four of five shots in the shootout.
"I thought we deserved better," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We played well enough to win."
Well enough to outshoot the Penguins, 36-32, anyway. Trouble is, Phil Kessel -- once in regulation, once in the shootout -- was the only Bruins player to get a puck behind Sabourin.
"He was awesome all night," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "And awesome in the shootout once again."
After backing up Marc-Andre Fleury for six games, Sabourin was selected to start the Penguins' first game away from Mellon Arena since they opened the season with two against Ottawa in Stockholm, Sweden.
"We were trying to fit him in at the right time," coach Michel Therrien said. "And we thought the first official game on the road was the right time."
Although Sabourin made several quality stops, his best came when he preserved a 1-1 tie at 8:18 of the third period by getting his glove on a Marc Savard blast from the slot.
"I was leaning the other way, because I couldn't see the puck," Sabourin said. "He made a good shot."
Just not quite good enough.
Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins scored the goal that decided the shootout in the fifth round, although Sabourin still had to deny Savard before the victory became official.
He also turned aside Patrice Bergeron, Michael Ryder and David Krejci in the shootout after Kessel beat him in the first round.
Petr Sykora also scored on Bruins goalie Tim Thomas in the shootout, while Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby and Miroslav Satan were stopped.
The Bruins were awarded the only three power plays of the opening period -- "We took some lazy penalties," Orpik said -- but the Penguins killed them all. And just six seconds after the third, caused by a hooking minor to Satan, expired, the Penguins took a 1-0 lead.
Satan scored the goal -- his fourth of the season and third in three games -- at 18:51 by sticking a Malkin rebound under the cross bar behind Thomas. The scoring sequence began when Crosby hit Malkin with a lead pass that allowed him to get behind the Boston defense.
Malkin's assist was his 11th point of the season, giving him at least temporary possession of first place in the NHL scoring race. He began the game tied with Washington forward Alexander Semin.
Sabourin turned aside the first 23 shots Boston threw at him before Kessel tied the score on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle during a power play at 13:53 of the second.
"Kessel made a perfect shot," Orpik said.
The goal was the fifth of the season for Kessel, who continues to mature into an impact player for the Bruins in his third pro season.
"His whole demeanor, on and off the ice, has grown in a positive way," Julien said. "He's feeling like he's more part of the team. ... We never questioned his skill level. It was everything else that had to follow."
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Kessel's teammates couldn't follow his lead, and Sabourin frustrated them for the balance of the game. And, in the process, presumably earned the right to go fewer than eight months before he gets another start.
"It's something I don't control," Sabourin said. "All I want to do is get better every day. I just want to show my teammates that I work hard, and that I'm ready when I get the call."
Dave Molinari can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .