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Boston surpasses Tampa in the Atlantic with Pastrnak’s hat trick

For the first time this season, the Boston Bruins are in a divisional playoff spot after David Pastrnak recorded his 12th career hat trick in a, 3-2, victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night at TD Garden.

Pastrnak tied John Bucyk for the third-most hat tricks in a Bruins uniform in the process, trailing only Phil Esposito (26) and Cam Neely (14), while Jeremy Swayman (19-8-3, 2.09 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in 31 games played) made 22 saves on 24 shots against in the win for Boston.

Tampa netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy (32-14-4, 2.39 goals-against average, .920 save percentage in 50 games played) stopped 36 out of 39 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 40-19-5 (85 points) overall and moved ahead of the Lightning in the standings– taking over 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, despite being tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs in points for 2nd (Toronto has played in one game fewer than Boston, however).

The Bolts fell to 39-18-6 (84 points) on the season and dropped to 4th place in the Atlantic, but in command of the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference– four points ahead of the Washington Capitals in the wild card race.

The B’s were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Patrice Bergeron (elbow) on Thursday as Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, informed reporters ahead of the game that Bergeron was not cleared and is likely to return Saturday afternoon against the New York Islanders.

Cassidy made one change to his lineup– scratching Mike Reilly in favor of dressing Hampus Lindholm in his Boston debut alongside Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pairing.

Reilly joined Marc McLaughlin, Josh Brown and Anton Blidh in the press box as healthy scratches against Tampa.

Erik Cernak caught Tomáš Nosek with a high stick and drew blood– yielding a four-minute double minor for high sticking at 1:20 of the first period.

The Bruins did not convert on the resulting extended power play and presented the Lightning with the next opportunity on the skater advantage after Craig Smith inadvertently caught Victor Hedman with a high stick at 5:17 of the first period.

Tampa didn’t score on the resulting power play, however.

Late in the period, Cernak cut a rut back to the penalty box for interference at 14:19, but Boston’s power play went by the wayside unconverted.

Through one period, the score remained tied, 0-0, despite the Bruins holding a, 12-8, advantage in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in blocked shots (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (56-44), while the Bolts held the advantage in giveaways (3-1) and hits (11-10) entering the first intermission.

Both teams had four takeaways each, while the Lightning were 0/1 and the Bruins were 0/3 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Mikhail Sergachev caught Taylor Hall with a high stick at 6:04 of the second period, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.

Instead, Tampa scored a shorthanded goal– just the sixth shorthanded goal against allowed by the Bruins this season– as Brad Marchand botched a play in the neutral zone, which led to a fast breakout the other direction for the Lightning before Ondrej Palat setup Brandon Hagel (22) for a one-timer goal– beating Swayman while crashing the slot.

Palat (21) had the only assist on the goal as the Bolts took a, 1-0, lead at 7:11 of the second period.

It was also the second shorthanded goal allowed in as many games for Boston.

The B’s answered back relatively quickly, however, as Lindholm setup Erik Haula for an indirect pass up ice to Pastrnak– sending Pastrnak (34) in on a breakaway before going to his backhand and elevating a shot past Vasilevskiy on the blocker side– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

Haula (20) and Lindholm (18) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s first goal of the game at 9:55 of the second period.

Lindholm’s secondary assist marked his first point as a Bruin, which made him the first defender to record a point in his B’s debut since McAvoy (1-1–2) did so in 2017-18 with Boston.

Moments later, Swayman was assessed an infraction for tripping Anthony Cirelli as Cirelli skated past the Bruins goaltender and collided with Swayman’s blocker as Swayman made a save.

Interesting.

Nevertheless, Boston was shorthanded at 14:47, but managed to make the kill and Smith (who served the minor) was freed from the box without issue.

Late in the period, Nick Paul and Brandon Carlo exchanged pleasantries after a stoppage in play and each took a trip to their respective penalty box with roughing minors– yielding two minutes of 4-on-4 action at 17:57 as a result.

Tampa had a rare 4-on-3 power play less than a minute later when Pastrnak tripped Sergachev at 18:47.

The Lightning did not capitalize on their skater advantage, however.

After 40 minutes of action in Boston, the score remained tied, 1-1, despite the Bruins leading the Lightning in shots on goal, 29-14, including a, 17-6, advantage in the second period alone.

The B’s led in blocked shots (11-10), takeaways (10-8), hits (18-17) and faceoff win% (55-45), while the Bolts led in giveaways (7-3).

Tampa was 0/3 and Boston was 0/4 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Nikita Kucherov slashed Derek Forbort 48 seconds into the third period, but the Bruins failed to convert on the ensuing power play.

Tampa caught Boston in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Kucherov snagged a rebound and dropped a pass back to Brayden Point, who then sent the rubber biscuit to Steven Stamkos (28) as he crashed the net and scored on Swayman– giving the Lightning a, 2-1, lead at 3:51 of the third period as a result.

Point (23) and Kucherov (23) tallied the assists on the goal.

Almost five minutes later, Pastrnak (35) tied things up, 2-2, courtesy of some great hand-eye coordination to settle a pass from Haula while spinning and working a backhand through Vasilevskiy’s short side along the post at 8:17.

Haula (21) and Connor Clifton (5) tabbed the assists on Pastrnak’s second goal of the game as the Bruins grabbed momentum in their favor and stayed hungry.

Forbort and Pat Maroon were assessed roughing minors at 9:21 and after two minutes of 4-on-4 action, things settled on the ice a bit.

Late in the third, Tampa tried to clear the zone but an errant puck bounced off of Cirelli and was kept in Boston’s attacking zone as Haula worked the puck to the front of the net on a shot with purpose to generate a rebound.

Hall had a brief chance and made contact, but it was Pastrnak (36) who buried the rubber biscuit into the twine for the hat trick goal and a, 3-2, lead at 15:50 of the third period.

Hall (33) and Haula (22) had the assists as Boston pulled ahead for the first time late Thursday night and never looked back.

Pastrnak’s hat trick marked the 12th of his career and sixth this season for the Bruins, while Haula capped off his first career three-assist game in the processs.

With 1:08 remaining in the action, Jon Cooper, pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but the Lightning couldn’t muster anything else past Swayman– not even after the Bolts used their timeout after a stoppage with 56.4 seconds left to draw up a plan to at least force overtime.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 3-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 39-24, despite both teams amassing 10 shots on goal each in the third period alone.

The Lightning left TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (14-12) and giveaways (9-6), while the Bruins finished the action leading in hits (29-26) and faceoff win% (57-44).

The B’s went 0/5 on the power play while the Bolts finished Thursday night 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Tampa has now lost six out of their last eight games, while Boston is 13-2-1 in their last 16 games and improved to 2-0-1 against the Lightning this season with one more game left in their regular season series in Tampa on April 8th.

The Bruins improved to 12-5-2 (5-3-1 at home) when tied after one period, 11-12-3 (7-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal and 10-4-0 (6-1-0 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

The Bolts dropped to 11-6-1 (5-4-0 on the road) when tied after the first period, 23-3-4 (12-1-2 on the road) when scoring first and 10-4-1 (5-3-0 on the road) when tied after the second period in 2021-22.

The B’s continue their five-game homestand (1-0-0) Saturday afternoon against the New York Islanders.

Boston hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils next Tuesday and Thursday to finish the month of March before the Columbus Blue Jackets make a trip to TD Garden on April 2nd.

By Nick Lanciani

Three years in live sports production (TV/radio), a degree in communication, a minor in sport management and yet I paint things in my spare time to distract myself from my unemployment. Anyway, I write stuff on Down the Frozen River, make/appear on podcasts, used to write stuff for Couch Guy Sports and still apply to jobs for a living.