The Pittsburgh Penguins would not be the butt of any jokes last night.

After the Bruins beat the Penguins by a combined score of 9-1 in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals in Pittsburgh, they encountered a much more competitive, more structurally sound team in Game 3 last night at the Garden.

But it didn’t matter.

Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winner with 4:41 left in the second overtime to lift the Bruins to a 2-1 win in an absolute, nail-biting thriller. The B’s now have a 3-0 series lead and are one game away from the Stanley Cup finals.

The game could easily have gone the Penguins way. They peppered Tuukka Rask with 54 shots (10 from Evgeni Malkin), but the slim Finn came up with the game of his life. The Pens also hit a few posts, including one from Craig Adams in the second OT.

In the end, however, it came down to a couple of battles won by the B’s.

Both teams had their chances in the overtime sessions, but it was the Bruins’ Mr. Clutch that finally ended it. Bergeron had lots of help. Jaromir Jagr won a puck battle in the neutral zone off Malkin and got the puck to Brad Marchand. Marchand charged up the left wing and spotted Bergeron coming down the middle.

He zipped the puck across and, with Brooks Orpik draped over him, Bergeron, who delivered the game-tying and OT winner in the Game 7 victory over Toronto, was able to chip it past Tomas Vokoun for the winner.

“Bergy, he does everything right,” said Marchand. “It’s little things like that that makes him a great player. Orpik’s a big strong player and the way he outbattled him and put that puck in, it shows that he can do everything. And we’re very lucky to have him.”

It’s the third huge goal the Marchand-Bergeron duo has come up with in similar fashion. Bergeron fed Marchand for the overtime game-winner in Game 1 against the Rangers and then Bergeron fed him again for a big third period goal in Game 2 against the Rangers.

“That’s what happens when you’ve been together for three years, as a duo anyway,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of the Bergeron-Marchand combo chemistry.

Added Marchand: “Normally, Bergy’s the playmaker. He sees the ice better than I do. But I was happy to repay the favor.”

For the third time in as many games, the B’s scored the first goal, and, again, it didn’t take long.

In Game 2, Marchand put the B’s up just 28 seconds into the game. Last night, the B’s had to wait all of 1 minute and 42 seconds and they got on the board because of some poor defensive zone coverage by the Penguins. David Krejci calmly stepped out from behind the net and beat Vokoun with a shortside shot for his ninth goal of the postseason.

Despite the early jump, for a long time this one looked like it would be going to the Penguins. Through three periods, the Pens outshot the B’s, 39-25, and were playing a much more disciplined brand of team defense. The Pittsburgh defensemen were not surrendering the blue line as easily as they had in the first two games and, as a result, the B’s had trouble gaining the zone.