After losing Game 1 on Saturday night to the Washington Capitals 3-2 in overtime, one quick look at the scoresheet was not a pretty sight for the top-six forwards of the Boston Bruins. The only point they registered was an assist for David Pastrnak on Nick Ritchie’s second-period power play goal. If the Bruins are going to have a chance to win this series, they need more from their top-six forwards.
Top-Six Responded in Game 2
The Bruins were able to even the series Monday night with a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime victory. It was a bounce-back night for the first two lines. On an assist from Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron scored in the first period and Taylor Hall, the left wing on the second-line, tied the game with 2:49 left in regulation by stuffing home a rebound past Capitals goalie Craig Anderson to force overtime.
In the extra session, Brad Marchand scored his first goal of the series when he one-timed a pass from defensemen Matt Grzelcyk past Anderson. The play started with David Krejci stealing a clearing attempt by Washington at the blue line, which ended up leading to the game-winning goal just 39 seconds into overtime. Three of the four goals came from the Bruins’ top-six forwards. Craig Smith at right wing on the second line had an assist like Pastrnak did in Game 1, which allowed the top-six to rack up six points.
While Pastrnak has two assists in the first two games, the Bruins would benefit even more if he could break through in the goal-scoring department, something that the 24-year-old struggled with at times this season.
Pastrank’s Turn to Light the Lamp
While getting most of its production from the top-six was nice in Game 2, it would be even better for the Bruins if Pastrnak is able to find his goal-scoring touch as the series shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4 at the TD Garden. Missing eight games this season as he was recovering from offseason hip surgery, Pastrank was still able to score 20 goals and have 28 assists despite some scoring droughts.
Pastrnak, who shared the Maurice Rocket Richard Award in the 2019-20 season with Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals with 48 goals, has 20 career playoff goals. Nine of those 20 goals came during the Black and Gold’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019. Last summer at the Toronto playoff bubble was a struggle for the 25th overall pick in the 2014 Entry Draft. In 10 games, he had three goals and seven assists.
Always one of the leaders in shots on the net, Pastrnak had six shots in Game 1 and four more in Game 2 against the Capitals. In Game 2, he had three of his four shots on the net during 5-on-5 play. The Bruins can’t afford to have Pastrnak go through a drought of putting the puck in the net in the playoffs that he battled through in the 56-game regular season.
It’s not like Pastrnak does not have the opportunity to score. He is playing with Marchand and Bergeron on the top-line and two of the best forwards in the series that are two good playmakers. Just playing with them should generate some good scoring chances. He is a key member of the Bruins first power play unit and is past due for a man-advantage goal. At this point, the Bruins would take a goal of any kind from him. He has shown that he’s one of the best players in the league at scoring goals in bunches in his career.
Pastrnak Is Key to a Playoff Run
While the Bruins’ top-six forwards responded in a big way to even the series in Game 2, they were able to do it without Pastrnak scoring a goal. If the Bruins are going to win three more games against Washington and advance to the second round, Pastrnak scoring would be beneficial. If the Bruins have visions of being serious Stanley Cup contenders, then he’ll have to be a bigger factor and producer for Boston in the goal-scoring department.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.