For the second time in six days, the Boston Bruins played a game minus their captain Patrice Bergeron, who was out resting some nagging injuries, according to coach Jim Montgomery. For the second time in six days, it was no Bergeron, no problem for the Bruins.
David Pastrnak recorded his 14th career hat trick, including two goals in the third period, and the Bruins dealt the Pittsburgh Penguins a tough, 4-3, loss as they need every point possible to secure one of the two Eastern Conference wild card spots in the postseason, that begins April 17. Here are three takeaways from the Bruins’ 59th win of the season.
Bruins Special Teams Nearly Perfect
The Bruins went a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill, including three in the third period, but their power play played a big part in the victory. Struggling would be an understatement in describing the man advantage of late, but that changed against Pittsburgh by going 2-for-3.
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Charlie McAvoy opened the scoring in the first period when he took a pass from Pavel Zacha and scored into an open net for an early 1-0 lead. With three seconds left in the first period, the Penguins were whistled for their third penalty, and the Bruins cashed in early in the second period. As the power play was expiring, Dmitry Orlov flipped a backhander from the blue line towards Tristan Jarry and Pastrnak was able to deflect it by the Penguins netminder for a 2-1 lead and his 100th point of the season. Even though they didn’t score on their middle opportunity in the game, it was a better-looking overall power play with zone entries, puck movement, and finishing. It was the first game since Dec. 19 against the Florida Panthers where the Black and Gold had two power-play goals in a game.
Boston was called for the final five penalties of the game and their penalty kill was up to the challenge against an explosive power play unit that Pittsburgh has. In the second period, they successfully killed a 5-on-3 opportunity, then in the third period after the Penguins tied the game, they had three power plays in the final 7:33, but again, the Bruins were able to successfully kill each opportunity. Orlov was on the ice for 7:26 when Boston was down a man and Brandon Carlo logged 5:33. Tomas Nosek (5:12), Charlie Coyle (5:11), Brad Marchand (3:47) and McAvoy (3:29) all logged over three minutes on the penalty kill with Orlov and Carlo. On their six power plays, the Penguins landed only six shots on the net.
Bruins’ Top-Six Plays Well in Bergeron’s Absence
It’s safe to say that Zacha’s addition to the Bruins this season has been nothing short of a huge addition. Usually, on the left wing on the second line with David Krejci and Pastrnak, he was bumped to center Marchand and DeBrusk on the first line and made a smooth transition.
They combined for seven shots on the net in 8:37 5-on-5 with an xGF% of 99.28% and held a 4-1 advantage in shots on the net. Zacha picked up three assists in the game, on McAvoy’s goal and the last two by Pastrnak. Tyler Bertuzzi was moved up to the left wing on the second line with Krejci and Pastrnak. In 10:36 5-on-5, they combined for eight shots on Jarry, and finished with a 44.91 xGF%. Bertuzzi finished the game with a team-high five hits in one of his more physical games with his new team. In the third period, Krejci set up Pastrnak’s game-winning goal with 2:26 left when he laid a perfect pass to his linemate’s stick and he beat Jarry inside the left post to break the 3-3 tie.
No Bergeron against a team desperate for any kind of points and the Bruins’ top-six still goes out and dominates a game offensively. It just goes to show the depth that general manager (GM) Don Sweeney has given Montgomery this season.
Orlov Plays Pivotal Role in All Situations Again
If there is one player that is earning some time off in the next two weeks, it’s certainly Orlov, who once again, excelled in all situations. Along with his penalty killing, he had an assist on the power play and logged a team-high 24:11 in time-on-ice. Just as important as his defensive game, his offensive game has been just as big an addition to the Bruins.
He was second to Pastrnak’s eight shots on the net with six, picked up an assist on Pastrnak’s second-period goal, and dished out a pair of hits. He is someone who has fit in perfectly into Montgomery’s system which gives the defensemen more freedom offensively. Sweeney’s trade for Orlov and Garnet Hathaway is one of the top moves that was made at the deadline by any GM.
Quick Bruins’ Takeaways
- Jeremy Swayman made 21 saves, but it was Jake Guentzel who was frustrated the most. Despite scoring a third-period goal, Guentzel was stopped on a breakaway twice by Swayman, including late in the first period when the Bruins goalie stopped his first shot and the rebound was there for the Penguins’ left winger to bury, but the puck rolled off of his stick. Swayman’s best period was the second when he stopped all 12 shots that were sent his way.
- Nick Foligno gets a lot of headlines when it comes to which Bruin is having a bounce-back season, but on the heels of the injured left wing is Tomas Nosek. Along with login over five minutes on the penalty kill, he was 7-for-11 on faceoffs. When Boston is fully healthy, it’s going to be hard for Montgomery to keep him out of the lineup in the playoffs.
There is no rest for the Bruins as they play the second leg of their back-to-back games on Sunday (April 2) against the St. Louis Blues, which is a homecoming for Montgomery who was an assistant on Craig Berube’s staff last season. Bergeron will miss his second consecutive game, but as the Bruins have shown in the last six days, they are more than willing to go on the road in a tough environment and play without their leader and have success.
Stats are from Natural Stat Trick.