David Pastrnak record his 11th career hat trick and helped the Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, in Tuukka Rask’s return to action Thursday night at TD Garden.
Rask, 34, made his season debut since recovering from offseason hip surgery and signing as an unrestricted free agent with Boston on Tuesday.
His last regular season appearance was way back on May 10, 2021, in a, 3-2, overtime victory against the New York Islanders on home ice before facing the Islanders in the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs– losing in six games while being eliminated on the road on June 9, 2021, in a, 6-2, loss at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Thursday night, however, was different as Rask described an unusual feeling prior to the puck drop.
“It was [emotional]. It was very much out of the normal, I guess, the way I was feeling before the game,” Rask told reporters after the, 3-2, win. He continued, “[I]t was great to see the fans’ support– the best fans.”
Rask (1-0-0, 2.00 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in one game played) made 25 saves on 27 shots against in the win.
Philadelphia netminder, Carter Hart (7-11-4, 2.93 goals-against average, .912 save percentage in 22 games played), stopped 33 out of 36 shots faced in the loss.
The B’s improved to 21-11-2 (44 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, while Philly fell to 13-16-7 (33 points) overall and stuck in 6th place in the Metropolitan Division.
Boston is now 2-1-0 against the Flyers this season.
The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Nick Foligno (lower body), Connor Clifton (COVID-19 protocol), Derek Forbort (COVID-19 protocol), Trent Frederic (upper body), John Moore (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (COVID-19 protocol) on Thursday.
As a result, Jack Ahcan was recalled on an emergency basis from the Providence Bruins (AHL) ahead of the night’s action and paired with Tyler Lewington as Lewington made his Boston debut on the third defensive pairing.
Urho Vaakanainen was promoted to the left side of Charlie McAvoy, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, left everything else the same from Wednesday night’s, 5-1, win against Montréal.
Boston’s long list of scratches Thursday night included Frederic, Foligno, Moore, Forbort, Grzelcyk, Zboril, Clifton and Karson Kuhlman.
Pastrnak (14) kicked things off with a shot that beat Hart’s blocker side to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 1:51 of the first period.
Prior to the goal, Erik Haula had sent a pass across the slot to No. 88, who promptly unloaded an accurate shot into the twine.
Haula (8) and Taylor Hall (16) snagged the assists on Pastrnak’s first goal of the night while a good portion of fans were probably still finding their seats.
A couple minutes later, Nick Seeler cut a rut to the penalty box for holding and presented the Bruins with the night’s first power play at 4:04 of the first period.
About midway through the ensuing skater advantage, Brad Marchand faked a shot and slipped a pass to Pastrnak (15) for a catch and release goal instead– extending Boston’s lead to two-goals in the process.
Marchand (21) and Charlie McAvoy (16) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 5:27.
About 20 seconds later, Ivan Provorov caught Charlie Coyle with a high stick and was assessed a minor infraction at 5:48, but the B’s weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Late in the period, Zack MacEwen checked Hall while Hall was already falling to the ice from prior contact with a Flyer.
This drew the ire of Pastrnak– who would be assessed an interference minor– and Lewington, who squared off in an exchange of pleasantries and brought MacEwen into the box with him as the two received roughing minors.
All three penalties were assessed at 15;28 of the first period and resulted in a power play for Philadelphia.
Boston killed of Pastrnak’s minor, however, and escaped without harm as the Bruins led, 2-0, heading into the first intermission.
The B’s also dominated in shots on goal, 12-6, as they held Philly without a shot through almost the first half of the first period.
The Flyers led in blocked shots (3-2) and hits (10-8), while the Bruins led in takeaways (2-1), giveaways (4-0) and faceoff win percentage (61-39) after one period of play.
Philadelphia was 0/1 on the power play, while Boston was 1/2 heading into the middle frame.
Lewington and MacEwen exchanged pleasantries that quickly escalated into an exchange of fisticuffs at 2:51 of the second period, spurring some momentum in favor of the Flyers, though by how much is a valid question as a few defensive mishaps, breakdowns and miscommunication here and there would lead to Boston giving up a couple of goals later in the period.
Tomáš Nosek was sent to the sin bin for interference at 6:26 of the second period.
Late in the ensuing penalty kill, the Bruins got caught spending too much time in their own zone– unable to get a desperate clear for a line change.
Provorov rocketed a shot from the point that Cam Atkinson (15) redirected up high past Rask from point blank on the doorstep to cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.
Provorov (10) and Keith Yandle (12) notched the assists on Atkinson’s power-play goal at 8:02 of the second period.
About a minute later, Pastrnak and Max Willman got into a shoving match by the benches and each received roughing minors, necessitating 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes at 9:07.
Late in the middle period, after Joel Farabee was denied on a breakaway by Rask– something the Bruins netminder did a few times during the night– the Flyers slipped through the neutral zone on a sloppy effort by the Bruins at getting back into their own zone.
Atkinson and Farabee had a de facto 2-on-1 as McAvoy went chasing and Farabee skated around him before Vaakanainen was left on his own trying to breakup the passing lane.
By that point Farabee had already surrendered the puck to Atkinson coming down the other side boards whereby Atkinson then duffed a pass back to Farabee for a one-timer opportunity that went by the wayside– but not completely.
Farabee’s (11) patience paid off as the Flyers forward kept his composure and gathered the puck a half step behind him in his stride and promptly buried the rubber biscuit in the empty twine behind Rask– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.
Atkinson (13) and Yandle (13) earned the assists on the goal at exactly 15:00 of the second period.
It didn’t take Philadelphia long to lose the momentum that they had generated from Boston’s misfortune, however.
Justin Braun tripped up Craig Smith at 15:16 and Willman followed his teammate into the box at 16:29 for hooking Pastrnak.
The Bruins had 48 seconds of an ensuing 5-on-3 advantage. It took them less than 20 seconds to score their second power-play goal of the game.
Marchand worked the puck around the zone to McAvoy, who fed Pastrnak (16) in his usual spot from the high slot at the faceoff circle for a one-timer blast that beat Hart and gave Boston a, 3-2, lead at 16:45 of the second period.
McAvoy (17) and Marchand (22) had the assists on the goal which completed the hat trick for Pastrnak on Thursday night– marking the 11th hat trick of his NHL career (the third-most among active NHLers trailing Alex Ovechkin, 28, and Evgeni Malkin, 12).
Only Phil Esposito (26), Cam Neely (13) and John Bucyk (12) had more hat tricks in their Bruins tenures than Pastrnak has so far.
It was also the first hat trick in back-to-back games for Boston since April 7-9, 1998, when Sergei Samsonov scored a hat trick one game after Steve Heinze notched three goals for the Bruins, as noted by 98.5 The Sports Hub Bruins beat reporter, Ty Anderson.
And if you’re wondering “when was the last time a hat trick had been scored by Boston on back-to-back calendar days?”
Well, that was on Dec. 4th and 5th in 1982, when Barry Pederson scored hat tricks in both, 6-4, victories– though one was in Montréal (Dec. 4th) and the other was against Philadelphia (Dec. 5th), per WEEI‘s Scott McLaughlin.
As for the last time the Bruins scored multiple hat tricks in the month of January? That was a bit more recent.
Patrice Bergeron scored his first career hat trick in a, 6-0, win against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 11, 2011, six days prior to Zdeno Chara’s first career hat trick in a, 7-0, win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 17, 2011.
Oh and Pastrnak’s two power-play goals (75) helped him surpass Bobby Orr (74) for sole possession of the eighth-most in Bruins franchise history.
Anyway, through 40 minutes of action in Boston, the B’s led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and, 29-15, in shots on goal– including a, 17-9, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.
The Bruins also led in blocked shots (6-5), giveaways (8-2) and faceoff win% (62-39).
Philadelphia held the advantage in takeaways (6-2), as well as hits (17-13), while the Flyers went 1/2 on the power play and the Bruins were 2/4.
There were no goals scored in the third period as the two teams swapped chances before the Flyers eventually outshot Boston in the final frame alone.
Brandon Carlo sent an errant puck over the glass for an automatic delay of game minor at 12:05 and Coyle followed it up with another delay of game infraction for a puck over the glass at 13:15.
With a 5-on-3 advantage upcoming before an abbreviated regular 5-on-4 power play, Philadelphia’s interim head coach, Mike Yeo, used his timeout to inspire his players to do something on the special teams.
The Bruins were down two skaters for 51 seconds and managed to make the kill on both penalties.
With 3:24 remaining in the action, Yeo pulled Hart for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail.
At the final horn, Boston had won, 3-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 36-27, despite trailing Philadelphia, 12-7, in shots on net in the third period alone.
The Bruins led their own building leading in blocked shots (16-6) and giveaways (11-3), while the Flyers exited TD Garden leading in hits (23-18).
Both teams split the final faceoff win% total, 50-50, as Philly went 1/4 on the power play and Boston went 2/4.
The B’s improved to 14-5-0 (7-3-0 at home) when scoring first, 15-0-0 (7-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 16-1-0 (6-1-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.
Philadelphia fell to 2-14-2 (1-9-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-11-2 (0-6-2 on the road) when trailing after one and (1-15-3 (1-9-2 on the road) when trailing through the second period in 2021-22.
The Bruins (2-0-0) continue their seven-game homestand Saturday afternoon against the Nashville Predators.
Boston then hosts the Carolina Hurricanes next Tuesday and will retire Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 prior to the game in a ceremony set to begin at 7 p.m. ET. The Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks will also visit Boston before the B’s hit the road on Jan. 26th in Colorado.