BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins pulled off a major comeback on Saturday night, rallying past the Pittsburgh Penguins with two late goals.
But most of the talk after the game centered around a first-period incident that sent Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik to Massachusetts General Hospital.
Orpik, with his head already on the ice after being tossed down by Bruins right winger Shawn Thornton, was then knocked out by two punches thrown by Thornton, still wearing his gloves. After a 10-minute delay, Orpik was wheeled off the ice.
The Penguins announced after the game Orpik had been released from the hospital to join the team on its flight home.
Thornton, a tough guy not known for being dirty, received a match penalty and will have a disciplinary hearing with the league.
"I feel awful. It wasn't my intention for that outcome," a contrite Thornton said after center David Krejci and defenseman Zdeno Chara scored in the final 1:39, Chara connecting with 13 seconds left, to give the Bruins a 3-2 win.
"I know Brooksie. I've gotten to know him over the last seven years here, I skate with him in the summer and through the lockout. I've texted him a couple of times. I feel awful. It's not what I wanted to see or anybody wanted to see."
Orpik, who played at Boston College, knocked Boston right winger Loui Eriksson out of the game just 21 seconds in with a high hit that gave Eriksson his second concussion of the season (he missed five games with the other one).
Thornton went after Orpik later in the period, picking up a penalty that led to the game's first goal, by left winger Chris Kunitz. Then, center Sidney Crosby knocked down Boston left winger Brad Marchand, and Neal, skating past Marchand, who was down on all fours, kneed the Bruin in the head for a penalty.
At the other end, Thornton charged into a get-together and flipped Orpik to the ice before knocking him out. Some 10 minutes later, Orpik, a former Boston College star, was wheeled off, in front of a stunned crowd.
"Obviously I made a mistake," Thornton said. "I'm aware of it. I've been told that I'll be having a hearing. It's hard for me to say much more than it was not my intention. I feel awful. I felt sick all game."
Neal, who will have a phone hearing with the league, later denied doing anything wrong.
"I was skating by him, I haven't like seen the replay or anything so I mean I hit him in the head with my leg or my foot or my knee or shin area, I don't know," he said.
Bruins coach Claude Julien, blaming both teams for the messy period, announced Eriksson had a concussion, and that center Chris Kelly had been slashed late in the game and will also be missing Sunday night in Toronto.
Neal came out of the penalty box to score the second power play goal connected to Thornton. The game stayed 2-1 until the dramatic ending.
Right winger Reilly Smith (No. 6) scored the first Boston goal and assisted on Chara's winner. Smith scored on his team's first shot, 10:13 into the game. Smith missed a wide-open net in the third period and Chara clanged one off the crossbar with two minutes left.
NHL scoring leader Crosby picked up an assist, his 11th point in the last six games. Defenseman Matt Niskanen assisted on both Pittsburgh goals as the Bruins captured the rubber game of the three-game season series.
Many expect the teams to meet again in the playoffs. The Bruins swept the Penguins in the Eastern finals last season.
It wasn't the first ugly incident between the conference rivals -- Boston center Marc Savard suffering a serious concussion that eventually seems to have ended his career when nailed by a Matt Cooke elbow in 2010.
Thornton recently told ESPN he's a strong believer in "the code" among fighters -- that you don't hit a player when he's down.
With Thornton gone via match penalty and Eriksson hurt, the Bruins played more than 2 1/2 periods with only 10 forwards, while the visitors were down to five defensemen.
NOTES: Pittsburgh C Evgeni Malkin missed his second straight game because of a lower body injury. ... The Bruins were down two defensemen. Johnny Boychuk (back sprain) is slated miss only 3-to-7 days after his spill into the boards in Montreal on Thursday night, when he left the ice on a stretcher, while Adam McQuaid missed his second straight and eighth in the last 10 games because of a lower body injury. McQuaid was to accompany the team to Toronto for Sunday night's game against the Maple Leafs but won't play. The game starts a four-game trip for the Bruins. ... The Penguins host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.