Saturday, April 20

David Pastrnak (three goals) is all the offense the Bruins need in a victory over the Lightning


The hats reigned down after David Pastrnak delivered the third of three-hard earned goals. In a game dripping with playoff intensity, Pastrnak’s 12th career hat trick pushed the Bruins to a statement win, 3-2, over the Lightning at TD Garden.

It was Pastrnak’s second hat trick of the season and his 10th multi-goal game.

The Bruins leapfrogged the Lighting for third place in the Atlantic

The Bruins had to play from behind in the third period after Steven Stamkos scored.

Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman couldn’t control the rebound on a shot from right circle by Jan Rutta. Connor Clifton couldn’t keep Nikita Kucherov from getting a second crack at it. Then, when the puck squeaked loose, Tomas Nosek couldn’t poke it away from the net. Stamkos swooped in and poked it past Swayman to put the Lightning back on top, 2-1.

But an absurd goal by Pastrnak at the 8:17 mark evened the score.

Pastrnak gathered the puck at a difficult angle along the right side of the net. With his back to Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Pastrnak flicked the puck through the tiniest of windows between Vasilevskiy’s pad and the pipe and it sneaked through to even the game at 2.

Neither team has been great on the power play recently. The Bruins came in 1 for 15 over their past five games. The Lighting were 6 for 30 over their last 10.

The Bruins came up empty on three power-play chances. The Lightning had one thanks to a high-sticking penalty on Craig Smith, but couldn’t capitalize.

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The game was gridlocked after the first period, but the Lightning struck first, taking advantage of a Bruins’ miscue on the power play.

Pastrnak dropped off a pass to Brad Marchand at the offensive blue line, and Marchand make a quick pass to Taylor Hall but took a bump from Brandon Hagel that sent him reeling into the neutral zone. Marchand tried to get the puck safely to Charlie McAvoy, but Ondrej Palat was able to strip it and break the other way.

Even though McAvoy had Palat contained, Marchand got caught watching the puck. Hagel slipped behind him, Palat made an easy pass and Palat made an easier finish to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead.

It was just the sixth shorthanded goal allowed by the Bruins this season, but the second the past two games.

The Bruins answered quickly. Hampus Lindholm showed off in one sequence all the skills that made the Bruins target him in a trade. Stamkos tried to play the puck off the boards, Lindholm chased it down behind the net and quickly got it up ice to Erik Haula. Haula shot the puck up to Pastrnak. With Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh draped all over him, Pastrnak was able to knock the puck down, shake free and beat Vasilevskiy with a backhand to even the score at 1.

The teams played four on four when tension boiled over near the end of the second period. A dust-up between Brandon Carlo and Nicholas Paul earned them matching roughing penalties. Pastrnak joined Carlo shortly after when he went flying to deliver a hit on Mikhail Sergachev but came up empty. The resulting tripping penalty gave the Lightning a 4 on 3.

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The teams won’t have to wait long to see each other again. The Bruins travel to Tampa April 8. In some ways, Thursday night was a measuring stick game — not necessarily how the Bruins measure up to a team they’ll see again, but how they’ve progressed over the course of the year.

“Obviously, we’re trying to catch Tampa,” Marchand said. “But there’s still a lot of time left in season. A lot of things can happen. But from where we are now to where we started, we’ve come a long way, which we knew was going to happen.

“We knew there was going to be some growing pains early on with a bunch of new guys and trying to build chemistry, trying to find line combinations, new guys learning in the system, trying to build those bonds off the ice as well. So we knew where we started the year was not where we’re going to end up.”


Julian Benbow can be reached at [email protected].


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