3 takeaways from the Bruins’ tense victory over the Penguins
David Pastrnak netted a hat trick to score his 100th point of the season and helped the Bruins set a franchise mark for points.
The load management portion of Boston’s historic regular season continued in Pittsburgh on Saturday, with Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron staying home to attend to nagging injuries.
So did the victories.
The Bruins had to overcome a few hurdles without their captain. The Penguins responded to each Boston tally to even things up, beginning with Bryan Rust’s crafty marker on a slick feed from Sidney Crosby just 73 ticks after Charlie McAvoy’s opening power-play tally at 6:20 of the first period.
Jim Montgomery’s squad didn’t receive the benefit of the doubt on multiple third-period calls, including on a failed goaltender interference on Jake Guentzel’s equalizer. The original call stood despite Crosby’s stick contacting Jeremy Swayman in the crease with 7:30 remaining in regulation.
Boston’s league-leading penalty kill delivered another stout performance, killing off a trio of penalties in the final 20, including a pair of borderline infractions from David Krejci and Pastrnak. The latter of the Czech duo put the PK in position to seal Saturday’s 4-3 win.
A couple of days removed from clinching the Presidents’ Trophy with the overtime winner against Columbus, Pastrnak picked up where he left off. The crafty playmaker surpassed the 100-point threshold for the first time in his career and capped off his latest hat trick to put the Bruins ahead for good at 17:34 of the final frame.
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins set another franchise record with their 123rd point following their 59th victory.
Pastrnak added more milestones to his career season.
With Bergeron sitting out this weekend, the Bruins turned to one of their superstars to help ease the burden.
The Bruins surely didn’t lack in scoring chances, peppering Tristan Jarry with 35 shots. Pastrnak led all players with eight shots on net in 19:32 time on ice.
Pastrnak showcased his scoring variety on Saturday, beginning with his tip on Dmitry Orlov’s backhanded attempt for Boston’s second power-play goal.
By the third, Pastrnak’s quick release provided nightmares for Pittsburgh’s D. He found time in the slot to set up for the one-timer to secure goals No. 55 and 56 on the season.
“It’s obviously amazing and very humbling for an organization like the Bruins that has so much history,” Pastrnak said to the press after notching points No. 100, 101, and 102 on Saturday. “I definitely feel honored…and as I said, I love Boston, and I’m happy I can play in this organization.
Pastrnak carried the Bruins to victory. In the process, he solidified his place in team history, scoring the most goals in a season since Phil Esposito’s 61 markers in 1974-75.
Pastrnak won’t catch Esposito’s single-season mark of 76 set in 1970-71. But a 60-goal season remains a possibility with six regular season games remaining.
The Bruins weren’t rattled by Crosby’s interference decision.
More often than not, any superstar will receive the benefit of the doubt whenever a borderline call presents itself.
Indeed, Crosby received that treatment of multiple officiating decisions during his Hall of Fame career. That trend continued on Saturday during a pivotal third-period sequence.
With one assist under his belt on a stellar first-period feed to Bryan Rust, Crosby provided a helping hand on a different matter with the Bruins holding a 3-2 lead. A net-front battle with Brandon Carlo resulted in Crosby’s stick making contact with Swayman in the blue paint.
The Bruins challenged. They failed with a review for the first time this season.
The Situation Room in Toronto deemed that Carlo caused Crosby to make contact with Swayman, thus keeping the original call intact.
Montgomery admitted to having second thoughts before challenging Guentzel’s tying marker. Still, he didn’t buy the explanation.
The Bruins killed off the minor from the failed interference challenge. But the borderline infractions didn’t end with Pittsburgh’s third equalizer.
Boston’s shorthanded unit needed to kill off a Krejci minor for boarding and a Pastrnak high-stick within the final 4:48 of play. They prevailed and earned their deserved outcome following their spirited three-zone effort.
“I just liked the way the team played,” Montgomery told reporters. “We kept battling, and there was a lot of adversity within that game, so I’m very proud of the group. They played the right way, and we got rewarded for it.”
The power play found results amid more fine-tuning.
Boston’s ongoing struggles with the man advantage reached one of its lowest points of the season in Tuesday’s loss to Nashville.
After a night full of slow entries into the attacking end and even slower puck movement with possession in the attacking zone, the Bruins needed to somehow change things up. They opted for the personnel route for Thursday’s matchup against the lowly Blue Jackets.
It wasn’t necessarily a night-and-day improvement. The Bruins, again, struggled to gain clean entries on a handful of occasions. But they established enough traction to notch a needed power-play goal in the second on Tyler Bertuzzi’s tap-in.
The “secondary unit” of Bertuzzi, Pastrnak, Krejci, McAvoy and Pavel Zacha struck twice in Saturday’s win. They notched their tallies by crashing the net.
A slick setup from Zacha sprung McAvoy for a doorstep tally on the game’s first goal. A Pastrnak tip on Orlov’s backhanded feed from the point gave Boston its second power-play goal.
While some of the slow-developing setups remained, the Bruins finally managed to score multiple times with the man advantage for the first time since their Dec. 19 win against the Florida Panthers.
The fine-tuning will continue over the final six games. With this load management stretch continuing for some of their battle-tested veterans, the Bruins will likely keep their rotating personnel on their two power-play units.
Twelve years ago, the Bruins hoisted the Stanley Cup without an effective power play. And while their 5v5 success made up for their three-month rut, they’d like the man advantage to, at the very least, provide a complimentary piece when they begin their first-round series in a couple of weeks.
Source: Boston Globe
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