Healthy Line-Up Gets the Win in Saturday Matinee.
Boston, MA – The return of David Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm, and Linus Ullmark sparked the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 win over the visiting New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Pastrnak’s goal and assist, coupled with Ullmark’s 30 save performance, helped the Bruins break the 100-point plateau for the season.
“A lot. This time of year, when you know you’re dog days, so to speak, looking forward to the playoffs but still got to play games and play well against a good hockey club,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy of the lift that the returning trio provided. “A little bit of energy, different energy to the room. We saw it early with Hampus (Lindholm) on the breakouts and transition plays. Pasta (Pastrnak) to finish obviously.”
“They’re very good NHL players, elite you could say,” added Cassidy. “So it’s going to make a difference in your lineup.”
Ullmark was tested early and often in the opening period. The 6′-4″ Swede missed the last week after taking an Erik Brannstrom slap shot to the head during the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to Ottawa on April 14, 2022. Ullmark looked like he didn’t miss a beat as he made 12 saves in the first.
“No worries,” said Ullmark when asked if rust might be a concern as the game got underway. “So far into the season everything is kind of in places no I wasn’t worried at all.”
Ullmark credited the early test from the Rangers, and his teammates’ help quickly put him back in game shape.
“I thought the boys in front did a tremendous job of keeping me on my toes and helping me out there in the beginning,” said Ullmark. “When you get those kinds of looks in the beginning it’s long gone after just a few minutes.”
Pastrnak tallied goal number 39 on the season when he deposited a Patrice Bergeron pass past Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin (32 saves) at 19:25 of the first period. Pastrnak was back in action for the Bruins after missing the last eight games due to injury.
“It’s nice that I was able to come back and help the team,” said Pastrnak. “The first couple of shifts I felt some rust but got better as the game went on.”
“There was a little bit on puck handling, the ice was not great, and coming back off injury it was a little bumpy,” said Pastrnak. “It is what it is and I’m happy with the game. That’s a good team we beat today, great win.”
Boston struck again just 1:07 into the second period when Taylor Hall beat Shesterkin on a breakaway for his 18th. Erik Haula hit Hall through the neutral zone to spring the Bruins winger in alone on Shesterkin to make it 2-0 Boston. Pastrnak earned the secondary assist on Hall’s goal, his 500th NHL point. Pastrnak is the third youngest Bruin to reach the 500-point plateau behind Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque.
“Yeah, it’s nice. If you told me as a kid, I wouldn’t believe it,” said Pastrnak of his accomplishment. “I’m happy. It’s something to look back on and enjoy with family and friends but at the same time there’s other goals in my mind.”
“Taylor had a lot of juice today,” Cassidy said when asked about Pastrnak’s return helping his linemate. “The goal they (Hall) scored, was Pasta in the seam. He’s in the dead perfect spot. Now we’ve got them (Rangers) in a transition play.”
“They were looking for each other,” Cassidy added. “Taylor still got his shots off. I think it made him better, made them both better.”
Ullmark again turned back all ten Rangers shots he faced in the middle period as he did in the first.
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A Too Many Men on the ice penalty victimized the Bruins at 1:42 of the third period. Mika Zibanejad pulled one back at 2:58 when he slammed a Chris Kreider cross-crease pass past Ullmark to cut the deficit to 2-1. Zibanejad’s power-play strike was his 29th goal of the season.
The Bruins had a hiccup leading up to the Rangers’ goal on the play. Defenseman Brandon Carlo got tangled up with Alexis Lafreniere as he made his way in on Ullmark. Carlo lost his stick before crashing into Ullmark while the puck squirted into the far corner. Kreider picked up the loose puck and found Zibanejad all alone to the left of Ullmark while Carlo retrieved his stick behind the Bruins’ net.
Boston regained the two-goal lead at 9:37 when Trent Frederic slapped a Craig Smith rebound past Shesterkin for his seventh goal. Smith chased down a long Connor Clifton pass off the end boards before firing off a shot that Shesterkin turned away, but Frederic was in a position to bat the rebound between the goalie’s arm and leg.
“They had better looks tonight,” said Cassidy of the third line. “Smitty (Craig Smith) had a couple walking into the slot. More of their game closer to the net shot and rebound. That’s what they’ve done. Good for them. Hopefully, it gets them going a little bit.
The Bruins square off against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday at 7:00 pm EST. New York will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. That game will have significant implications as the two teams are one and two in the Metropolitan Division. Carolina is ahead on 110 points to New York’s 108.