BOSTON -- It could have been worse, of course.
If Sidney Crosby hadn't swatted a puck past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask with less than a second remaining in regulation Monday night at TD Garden, the Penguins would have returned home from their two-game road trip with nothing more than a couple of losses and a lot of regrets.
As it was, Crosby's goal salvaged a point for them, even though Boston defenseman Torey Krug gave the Bruins a 4-3 victory by hammering a slap shot past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the left faceoff dot 34 seconds into overtime.
The loss dropped the Penguins' record to 15-9-1. It also snapped a seven-game regular-season winning streak against the Bruins and a run of six consecutive victories at TD Garden.
And failing to claim that second point wasn't the only bad news for the Penguins, as coach Dan Bylsma revealed after the game that winger Beau Bennett needed surgery to repair an injured hand/wrist and will be out for eight to 10 weeks.
The Penguins also played without winger Tanner Glass, who is believed to have injured a hand blocking a P.K. Subban shot Saturday while killing a penalty in Montreal.
Bylsma said Glass' injury will be re-evaluated after the Penguins return home.
While the point they got for taking the game to overtime was a decent consolation prize for the Penguins, considering that they never led in the game, the most encouraging thing for them likely was that winger James Neal continues to rediscover his scoring touch.
He recorded his second two-goal game in three nights, and came within inches of earning a hat trick, as he put a shot off the crossbar with a little more than four minutes to go in the second period.
"That's a dangerous shot, anytime he can get it off," Bylsma said.
Neal scored his first of the game 37 seconds into the second, when he beat Rask on the stick side from above the right hash mark.
He then tied the score at 11:09 of the third, scoring from near the left dot for his sixth this season.
"I was lucky enough to find some good spots and get some good passes," Neal said.
Luck probably wasn't that much of a factor -- Neal is one of the league's most lethal goal-scorers when his game is in sync -- but the Penguins could have used a little good fortune earlier in the game.
They recorded 10 of the first 11 shots and generated a number of quality scoring chances in the first half of the opening period, but still were trailing, 2-0, at the intermission.
As was the case in their 3-2 loss Saturday in Montreal, the course of the game could have been altered dramatically if the Penguins had been able to capitalize on at least one of those early chances.
"The start was tough," Crosby said. "We outplayed them. They had a couple of chances and scored. If we score one there, maybe it's a different outcome."
As it was, they had to play from behind for much of the game.
Loui Eriksson put Boston up, 1-0, at 12:27 of the first, when he got behind the Penguins defense and put a backhander between Fleury's legs to cap an odd-man rush that began when Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik shanked a shot attempt in the Bruins zone.
Reilly Smith beat Fleury from the inner edge of the left circle on a power play at 15:43 -- the only man-advantage goal the Penguins have given up in the past seven games -- to make it 2-0, and force the Penguins to try to come back against one of hockey's stingiest goalies and team defenses.
Which they managed to do it.
"I liked the way, against this tough team, we stayed with it and stayed with the game plan and did come out with a tie after regulation," Bylsma said.
That didn't seem likely when, with the score tied, 2-2, late in regulation, Crosby inadvertently deflected a shot by Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara past Fleury to put Boston back in front.
"That's the last thing a goalie wants you to do," Crosby said. "I shouldn't have done that."
He earned redemption as time was about to expire, however, converting the Kunitz pass for his 13th goal of the season.
That goal, which was confirmed by video review, deflated the crowd, but only briefly, as Krug ended the game just minutes later, leaving the Penguins to again reflect on what could -- or should -- have been.
"We're a way better team than what we've been showing," Neal said. "We can't keep saying we deserve a little better. We have to make it happen."
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG. First Published November 25, 2013 9:55 PM