Boston, MA – The Montreal Canadiens rolled onto Causeway St. Wednesday night for an Original Six matchup with the Boston Bruins.
History has shown that when these two clubs meet, the game tends to get chippy with frequent hard hits and fisticuffs. While a “fight” did happen, one player in particular had a very special night: David Pastrnak.
It took the 23-year-old less than two full periods to record his fourth hat trick of the season, and to take back the lead for the most goals in the National Hockey League with 41.
“Obviously I am happy for that,” said Pastrnak on his new career high. “It’s something I haven’t accomplished yet in my career. Obviously exited, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
The Bruins began the game with a surge, making it difficult for the Habs to generate consistent offense early on in the first period.
Therefore, it was not a surprise when Boston scored first. Just a second under seven minutes into the first, Pastrnak gave the Bruins the lead, but with a bit of help from lineman Brad Marchand.
Marchand put on a show; entering the offensive zone, dangling the puck around Montreal defender Marco Scandella, then passed the puck to Pastrnak who crashed to the net and shot it into an open Montreal net.
The play, however, was not the only highlight of the opening 20 minutes. With just under 2 minutes to go, Brad Marchand got in a tussle with Canadiens defender Jeff Petry behidn the play. Marchand, who was going to receive a slashing penalty before a fight broke out, was assessed a roughing penalty. Petry was also given a roughing minor, and the Canadiens would go on the power play to end the first period and open the second period of play.
“There’s always a little bit of high emotions when you play Montreal,” said Marchand on the tensions between the two teams. “The fans get excited, so a little bit of that. But it wasn’t that bad.”
The Habs were unable to score on the player-advantage, as the Bruins kill off one of Marchand’s penalties.
However, it was about to get interesting for the Bruins this period.
Just over 4 minutes into the second, Sean Kuraly skated down the right wing with the puck in a rush with Pastrnak. Kuraly found Pastrnak’s stick who was crashing the slot and shot it past Price to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.
However, Montreal answered back about 40 seconds later. Scandella shot the puck at the blue line, through traffic, and onto the stick of Nick Suzuki who tipped it over the right shoulder of Tuukka Rask to cut the Bruins lead in half.
The Canadiens would get an opportunity to tie the game less than a minute later, as Danton Heinan was called for slashing.
However four seconds into the power play, Brendan Gallagher and Zdeno Chara exchanged minor penalties; Gallagher was called for roughing while Chara was whistled for cross-checking.
All penalties were killed off by both teams, and play resumed.
Late into the second period, Chris Wagner and Jonathon Drouin were both sent to the box for roughing.
While on the 4-on-4, Joel Armia was called for roughing as well; the Bruins were given a 4-on-3 power play. It was the perfect opportunity for Pastrnak to take advantage, and extend the Bruins lead.
And he did just that.
Marchand took a shot from the left of Carey Price, but Price blocked it and redirected it to Patrice Bergeron who was in front. Bergeron was unable to get a stick on the puck, as it bounced to Pastrnak who was crashing the net from the left wing. The Czech native knocked it home for his third goal of the game, re-claiming the NHL lead for goals with 41 on the season.
Armia exited the penalty box, and the Bruins would go into the third period with a 3-1 lead.
Montreal was given a chance to cut the deficit yet again when Charlie McAvoy was called for a delay of game penalty 4:19 into the final period. However, the Canadiens were unable to converse, and even took their own penalty with one second remaining on the power play as Gallagher was called for high sticking.
Both teams killed their penalties, and the score remained 3-1.
Montreal’s head coach Claude Julien pulled Price for the extra-attacker with less then three minutes to go in the period with hope to give the Canadiens a breath of hope.
However with 19.8 seconds to go, Bergeron scored on the empty net to give the Bruins their ninth win in their last 10 games.
“We only play [Montreal] four times,” Bruce Cassidy said. “That’s another reason why you lose some of the rivalry. It used to be eight times at least, so we don’t see them that much to develop that hatred. You get them [on] a back-to-back. I liked the way we handled it. They are a good hockey club. Early on we scored. They had a couple really good shifts….then we took our breath and off we went. We handled things well, [and] I thought the start of the third, you want to make sure that you’re playing the right way and when it is 3-1 you don’t want to give up an early goal. So, I thought we did a lot of those things well. We had some desperation in our game to keep the puck out of the net. So as much as Pasta was the star of the night, obviously offensively, I thought a lot of our guys deserve credit for–Torey had a huge shot block in the second period, Z at the end–guys were really working hard to help Tuukka out, to keep it out of our net. And that’s how you win.”
Up next, the Bruins will be home again this Saturday as the Detroit Red Wings come into Boston for a matinee game.