Boston, MA – The visiting Philadelphia Flyers are the latest victim of Boston Bruins’ surging play. Powered by David Pastrnak’s hat-trick, the team’s second in two nights, and 25 saves from Tuukka Rask in his return to the Bruins lineup, the team has now won four straight and seven of their last eight since turning the calendar to the new year.
“Oh man, I was so happy to have him back. You have no idea,” said Pastrnak of Rask’s return. “I was ready to leave it all out there for him. I told him I was going to get a hat trick before the game. He didn’t believe me.”
“It’s really good to have him back,” Pastrnak said. “He’s one of my closest friends, and I missed him, obviously. He was outstanding, the saves he made. Great to have him back. I could be sitting here for 15 minutes talking about him.”
As for his play, Pastrnak’s performance spoke for itself.
Pastrnak put the Bruins ahead early when he rifled an Erik Haula pass past Carter Hart at 1:51 of the first period. Pastrnak kept the play alive at the Flyers’ blue line when he ringed the boards. Taylor Hall gathered the puck and dished to Haula, who found Pastrnak in the slot for his 14th goal of the year.
A Holding penalty on Flyers defenseman Nick Seeler at 4:04 gave the Bruins the advantage. Once again, Pastrnak found the back of the net for Boston to make it 2-0 at 5:27. Brad Marchand fired off a cross-ice no-look pass to Pastrnak just below the left face-off dot, where he wristed the puck past Hart for his second goal of the night.
Rask made his first start for the Bruins since June of 2021 and didn’t see his first shot on goal until 9:20 of the opening frame.
“It was emotional,” said Rask. “It was very much out of the normal, I guess, the way I was feeling before the game … It was great to see the fan support. The best fans.”
“It felt like I was home, basically.” added the 34-year-old Finn.
“It’s been great; we were chatting in Finnish today,” said Rask of having a few countrymen around the locker room this year. Haula and Urho Vaakanainen add to the comfort factor. “There was even a Finnish song playing after the game, so it’s been great. We’ve had enough Czechs, Slovaks, and Swedes, so it’s about time we get some Finns.”
The Flyers crawled back into the game in the second period. A fight between Flyers forward Zack MacEwen and Bruins defenseman Tyler Lewington gave the visitors the spark they needed almost three minutes into the period.
An Interference call on Boston center Tomas Nosek put the Flyers on the power play at 6:26.
Cam Atkinson capitalized on the man advantage when he redirected an Ivan Provorov shot from the blue line past Rask to make it 2-1 at 8:02. Provorov and Keith Yandle assisted on Atkinson’s 15th of the season.
Rask stonewalled Joel Farabee on a breakaway bid around the 10:30 mark. However, Farabee would have his when he skated through four Bruins and dished to Atkinson, who quickly fired a pass back across for Farabee to tap the puck into the Bruins net. The game-tying goal was Farabee’s 11th goal of the year.
The Bruins had a five-on-three power play with Justin Braun off for Tripping at 15:16, then Max Willman for Hooking at 16:29. Pastrnak struck for his third goal of the night at 16:45 when he deposited a Charlie McAvoy pass past a stickless Hart to regain the Bruins 3-2 lead.
The Flyers had a push over the final ten minutes of the third period, but Rask was a wall as he turned back all 12 Philadelphia shots. The bruins tried to give this one away as back-to-back Delay of Game penalties gave the Flyers a five-on-three power play for fifty-one seconds with just over six minutes remaining.
Philadelphia pulled Hart with just under four minutes remaining, but the Bruins hung on to pull out the 3-2 win in Rask’s return to action after 18 months off for hip surgery.
“We got sloppy in the second,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “Philly’s that team that will take advantage of it.”
“Some guys that are typically strong on pucks or make good plays were just a little, or just didn’t execute or made a wrong decision,” said Cassidy. “We needed a couple of stops there. After that, we reeled it in.”
The Bruins host the Nashville Predators at 1:00 pm while the Flyers host the New York Rangers at 7:00 pm Saturday.