Marco Sturm scored one of three Boston goals during a second-period flurry, then won it by being the only player to score in the shootout as the Bruins squandered a two-goal lead before beating the Penguins 4-3 Wednesday night.
Sturm was Boston's first skater in the shootout and, after Pittsburgh's Michel Ouellet shot wide, he stuffed a shot under goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's pads. Evgeni Malkin, who had a goal and an assist, and Sergei Gonchar each missed for Pittsburgh to end it. Gonchar's shot deflected off Thomas' glove and a post.
"I find if I lose a shootout, I feel devastated," Thomas said. "If I win I feel like I did what I'm supposed to do. Shootouts are a lot like poker - there's some skill involved, but it's a whole lot of luck."
Strum, who scored his third goal of the season, didn't get the puck by Fleury the way he planned it.
"I wanted to go backhand, but he closed it up well so that was pretty much my second option," Sturm said. "My last resort was to go five-hole."
The Bruins felt lucky to not have to face Crosby, who missed a game to injury for only the second time in his two-season career. The Penguins appeared to badly miss him, going 0-for-8 on the power play until Mark Recchi scored on a backhander for his sixth of the season to tie it with 30 seconds remaining in regulation.
Recchi also scored Pittsburgh's first goal, late in the first period, before Boston scored three times in 4 1/2 minutes in the second.
Crosby, the NHL's fourth-leading scorer, injured his groin during a 5-3 victory in Philadelphia on Monday and watched from a private box. His status for games Friday and Saturday is uncertain.
"He's always a big part of team, Sidney, but I still think the team played well," Fleury said.
Stanislav Chistov's first goal of the season tied it at 1 on a power play, and Sturm made it 2-1 slightly more than two minutes later. With Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu off for a double minor for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct, Zdeno Chara scored the Bruins' third goal with a slap shot from the high slot after he and Patrice Bergeron exchanged passes.
The Bruins won their eighth in a row against Pittsburgh since 2003.
"We didn't want to give up two goals in the third, but it happened," Sturm said. "It was nice to rebound and get the two points back."
Malkin cut Boston's lead to one by scoring on a short breakaway midway into the third, stealing the puck from Brad Stuart along the boards after coming out of the penalty box and skating in alone for his 10th goal.
Malkin nearly won it in overtime after swiping the puck in the Bruins' end, but Thomas stopped him by sticking out his right skate. Thomas made 16 saves after replacing Brian Finley to start the second period.
"Everybody was confident we could come back, and that the game wasn't over (at 3-1)," Fleury said. "It's always tough to lose like that."
Notes: Crosby missed one game to injury last season. ... The Penguins have only three wins in regulation against Boston in their last 23 tries. ... Thomas started all four games during Boston's winning streak that ended Monday with a 3-2 loss to Florida. Boston has won five of six. ... The Penguins had won two in a row and three of four.