If anyone thought the Bruins were going to mail it in for the final seven games since clinching the Presidents’ Trophy, they are sadly mistaken.
With the Pittsburgh Penguins desperately trying to hold onto the final playoff spot and a date with the B’s in the first round, David Pastrnak posted his second hat trick of the year in dramatic fashion and beat the Pens, 4-3, at PPG Pains Arena on Saturday. It was win No. 59 for the B’s.
Pastrnak notched his third goal of the game and 56th of the season when he ripped home a David Krejci feed to give the B’s a 4-3 lead.
Pastrnak then had to sit in the box and watch his team kill off the sixth Penguin power play after his was called for high-sticking with 57 seconds left.
Pittsburgh tied the game for the third time on the afternoon with 7:30 left in the third period when Brandon Carlo did not connect with Hampus Lindholm on a pass behind the net. Eventually, Jake Guentzel rifled home a Brian Dumoulin pass when Jeremy Swayman was slow to get over.
There was a reason for that. Sidney Crosby had hit Swayman in the mask with his stck. The B’s challenged it, lost the challenge and had to kill off the ensuing power play. Then they had to kill off a Krejci boarding penalty before Pastrnak gave the B’s the lead again.
Pastrnak broke a 2-2 tie with his second goal of the game and 55th of the season when he one-timed Pavel Zacha’s pass from the top of the right circle that beat Tristan Jarry at 7:07.
The B’s had taken a 2-1 lead into the third period but lost on some bad luck. Off a Pittsburgh rush, Bryan Rust took a shot that Swayman stopped but could not control. A backing up Charlie McAvoy slid backwards into Swayman and knocked the puck in. It was originally waved off, but it was correctly upheld for Rust’s second of the game.
The B’s dominated much of the first period, outshooting Pittsburgh 12-4, but it was 1-1 after 20 minutes.
McAvoy got the B’s on the board first late in their first power play of the game off a brilliant play by Zacha, filling in for Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron will miss the weekend’s games as he nurses “nagging injuries,” according to coach Jim Montgomery. From behind the net, Tyler Bertuzzi tried to feed Zacha out front but the puck was deflected. Zacha dove to get the puck and fed McAvoy for an easy backdoor goal at 6:20.
But just 1:13 later, the Pens tied it up. On a Crosby rush, McAvoy over-committed to the Pens’ captain and Crosby was able to slip a nice pass through Dmitry Orlov’s skates to a wide open Rust, who snapped it over Swayman’s glove to knot the game.
While Pittsburgh didn’t have a lot of chances in the first, the ones it did have were glittering. Late in the period, Swayman stoned Jake Guentzel on a breakaway and, with an empty cage staring at him, Guentzel heeled the rebound chance wide.
In the waning seconds of the period, Evgeni Malkin tripped Brad Marchand on a breakout and the B’s began the second period with some healthy power play time. They cashed in again. With time running down on the advantage, Orlov kept the puck in at the left point, then sprinted to the middle of the blue line before sending a backhander toward the net.
At the top of the crease, Pastrnak deflected it down and past Jarry for his 54th goal and 100th point. Pastrnak became just the third Bruin in the past 20 years to hit the century mark. Marchand (36-54-100 in 79 games in 2018-19) and Joe Thornton (36-65-101 in 77 games in 2002-03) were the others.
While the B’s continued to carry most of the play, any lapse seemed to result in a Pittsburgh odd-man rush. On one of them, Swayman denied Guentzel and then Rust on the rebound.
The B’s got themselves in deep trouble late in the period when, with 45 seconds left on Jake DeBrusk’s high-sticking penalty, Carlo was whistled for interference on Crosby. But the B’s came up with the big kill to go into the second intermission with their one-goal lead.