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Penguins 4, Bruins 2

Bruins blow another lead, this time in loss to Danton Heinen and the Penguins

As refreshed as the Bruins might have felt coming out of the All-Star break and as encouraged as they might have been after winning 12 of 17 games once teams returned in January from the league-wide hiatus, they were reminded in their 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins of some of the red flags that started to pop up at the end of the season’s first half.

The Bruins had lost three of their last five, and in both wins and losses, they had built leads and watched them unravel.

They had a two-goal lead against the Colorado Avalanche going into the third period on Jan. 26 and let the Avalanche come back to win 4-3 in overtime. They took another two-goal lead into the third against the Seattle Kraken on Feb. 1, but let Seattle score twice in the first eight minutes before salvaging a 3-2 victory.

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Against the Penguins at TD Garden on Tuesday, the Bruins’ lead didn’t even last to the final frame. They jumped out to another two-goal lead only to give it up faster than they got it.

And there was more. Patrice Bergeron left in the third period and did not return. And Brad Marchand might be facing a suspension. He was ejected in the final seconds after punching Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry in the crease after the whistle.

The Penguins snapped a four-game losing streak, while the Bruins took their third loss in five games.

“They were opportunistic,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We need to be better. We need saves when we do break down. We’re not a perfect team.”

The Bruins got their first goal of the night on the power play after a Radim Zohorna tripping penalty. Bergeron won the face-off, then made a play to keep the puck in the offensive zone and find Taylor Hall, who hit Pastrnak on the left side for his 23d goal of the season and his 12th power-play tally.

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Late in the first, a Penguins line change set up a Bruins 3-on-1 rush with Erik Haula, Hall, and Pastrnak forming a triangle around John Marino. From the left side, Haula hit Hall in the middle; Jarry got a glove to Hall’s shot, but couldn’t squeeze it. The puck popped free and Pastrnak was waiting to pounce, swatting it out of mid-air for his second goal of the night and giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead.

Pastrnak now has 40 career multi-goal games, six this season. The Bruins came in 5-0 this year when Pastrnak scored multiple goals in a game and 30-10 all-time. Pastrnak has scored 16 goals since the start of January and Hall’s assisted on nine of them.

“We like to play with each other and building our chemistry, getting better,” Bergeron said. “But you know, still a lot of game to work at.”

Danton Heinen, the Bruins’ fourth-round pick in 2014 who was traded to Anaheim in 2020, made his mark in the second period, going forehand to backhand to beat Jeremy Swayman and cut the Bruins lead to 2-1.

Heinen scored nine goals for the Penguins in his first 30 games, but since the league went on hiatus in December, he’d been in a 10-game drought. He snapped out of it with his first multi-goal game since his Bruins days.

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His second goal tied it at 2-2. He let a wrist shot go from the right circle that bounced off Swayman’s shoulder and played hide-and-seek until Swayman knocked it into the net himself.

“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” Pastrnak said. “I think we’re a better team but we made a lot of mistakes and Pittsburgh has a great team and a lot of skill and they were able to capitalize on every mistake.”

The Penguins made the comeback complete at the 12:53 mark, putting too many bodies in front of Swayman for him to handle. Brian Rust recovered his own miss, went behind the net, and spotted Sidney Crosby set up on the other side. Crosby snapped off a quick shot that barely wriggled past Swayman to put Pittsburgh up, 3-2.

Swayman was back on the Bruins roster after being assigned last month to AHL Providence when Tuukka Rask made his attempt at a comeback from offseason hip surgery. It was his first start since Jan. 6. He gave up three goals for the seventh time this season.

“Goaltending picks you up some nights and it can deflate you,” Cassidy said. “I think we saw both in the second period, so it gets away from us a little bit.”

The Bruins’ best shot to even it came after Crosby went to the penalty box for roughing at the 9:25 mark in the third, but the Bruins didn’t get a shot off on the ensuing power play. The Penguins sealed it with an empty-net goal by Bryan Rust with 1:29 left.

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But the momentum was Pittsburgh’s long before that.

“As a coach you’re trying to get that message across,” Cassidy said. “Things happen quick, so I’ve got to do a better job with that. Obviously, the players have to recognize when the other team’s making a push and get the game back and the momentum back into our favor when those things happen.”


Julian Benbow can be reached at julian.benbow@globe.com.