For the second time this season, David Pastrnak recorded a hat trick against the Montreal Canadiens as the Boston Bruins defeated the Habs, 4-1, at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
Pastrnak regained the lead as top goal scorer in the league with 41 goals so far this season and became the first player since Gordie Howe to score multiple hat tricks against Montreal in the same season (Howe did so back in 1951-52).
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (21-5-6 record, 2.11 goals against average, .930 save percentage in 33 games played), made 28 saves on 29 shots against for a .966 SV% in the win.
Canadiens netminder, Carey Price (24-20-4, 2.73 GAA, .913 SV% in 48 games played) stopped 34 out of 37 shots faced for a .919 SV% in the loss.
Boston improved to 35-11-12 (82 points) on the season and remained atop the entire league, while Montreal fell to 27-25-7 (61 points) and stayed put in 5th place in the Atlantic Division.
The B’s also improved to 20-2-9 at home this season and have won eight out of their last ten games.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body) and Jeremy Lauzon (suspension) on Wednesday.
Lauzon wrapped up his two game suspension from last Saturday’s, 4-2, win against the Arizona Coyotes for an illegal hit to the head of Coyotes forward, Derek Stepan.
Meanwhile, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor changes among his forwards against the Canadiens.
Joakim Nordstrom was back in the lineup after missing the last four games due to allergy related complications and resumed his usual role on the fourth line left wing– reuniting the Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner trio.
Cassidy moved Danton Heinen to the third line right wing with Anders Bjork at left wing and Charlie Coyle down the middle.
As a result, Par Lindholm joined Anton Blidh as Boston’s only healthy scratches against Montreal as Urho Vaakanainen was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) late Sunday night after being recalled on an emergency basis.
Wednesday night marked the 750th all time regular season matchup between the B’s and Habs. Montreal has won 363 of those matches, while Boston has now won 284 of them. The two clubs tied in 103 times in that span.
Almost midway through the opening frame, Brad Marchand snaked his way into the attacking zone and through Montreal’s defense before curling a pass to Pastrnak (39) for a one-timer into the back of the twine– giving Boston the game’s first lead, 1-0.
Marchand (47) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal– his 39th of the season, which established a new career-high in goals for No. 88 in black and gold– at 6:59 of the first period.
The pair of wingers on Boston’s first line each have amassed at least 70 points in the last four seasons– marking the 10th time a Bruins player has recorded 70-plus points in four or more consecutive seasons.
Just past the midpoint of the first period, the Canadiens made an error in judgment and had too many skaters on the ice– yielding the first power play of the night to the Bruins at 10:32, but Boston did not convert on the ensuing legal skater advantage.
Late in the opening frame, Marchand got tangled up with Jeff Petry in front of the Montreal net as the two players exchanged shoves and roughing penalties (with Marchand earning an extra slashing minor in the process).
The Canadiens had their first power play of the night at 18:48 of the first period while Heinen served Marchand’s extra minor in the box.
Montreal’s power play would extend into the second period as the two teams entered the first intermission with the B’s in the lead on the scoreboard, 1-0, and in shots on goal, 11-10.
After one period of play, Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (6-2) and takeaways (2-0), while the Habs led in hits (12-11) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).
Both teams had four giveaways aside and were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
The Habs began the second period with 48 seconds remaining on their power play, but their special teams were no match for Boston’s penalty kill fresh off the intermission as the Bruins killed off Marchand’s minor.
Moments later, Pastrnak (40) tallied his second goal of the game after Kuraly fed Pastrnak with pass while on a two-on-one break-in that led to Pastrnak deking and scoring top-shelf while Price dove in desperation.
Kuraly (15) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal and the B’s led, 2-0, at 4:16 of the second period.
For the first time since Glen Murray tallied 44 goals in the 2002-03 season, a Bruin recorded 40 or more goals in a season as Pastrnak reached and surpassed the 40-goal plateau.
He also required the fewest games (58) by a Bruins player to score 40 goals in a season since Cam Neely reached 40 goals in 36 games played in 1993-94 (which is also the fastest in franchise history to reach 40 goals).
Less than a minute later, Marco Scandella ripped a shot from the point that went off of Nick Suzuki’s (12) hip and past Rask– cutting Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, and putting the Habs on the scoreboard.
Scandella (8) had the only assist on Suzuki’s unintentional redirection goal at 4:52 of the second period.
Shortly thereafter, Heinen slashed Artturi Lehkonen and was sent to the box at 5:38.
Prior to the ensuing faceoff on the power play for Montreal, Zdeno Chara and Brendan Gallagher exchanged pleasantries with Chara promptly delivering a swift cross check to Gallagher and Gallagher receiving a roughing minor as the two were sent to their respective penalty boxes with Heinen already in Boston’s sin bin at 5:38 of the middle frame.
The Canadiens didn’t convert on the resulting power play.
Late in the second period, the nastiness continued with Jonathan Drouin and Wagner exchanging shoves and receiving roughing infractions at 14:32.
While on the ensuing 4-on-4 action, Joel Armia took a penalty for roughing against Torey Krug at 15:14 and yielded a 4-on-3 advantage for Boston for an abbreviated 1:19 span.
Montreal failed to clear a rebound in the resulting zone time for the Bruins as Patrice Bergeron battled Petry’s net front presence before the loose puck ended up on Pastrnak’s stick.
Pastrnak (41) slid the rubber biscuit through Price’s five-hole into the far side of the goal for his fourth hat trick of the season and first since Jan. 9th against the Winnipeg Jets.
Pastrnak’s hat trick goal was unassisted at 15:45 of the second period as Pastrnak joined Washington Capitals prolific goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin, as the only other active player to score nine hat tricks (including regular season and playoffs) prior to his 24th birthday.
Pastrnak’s third goal of the game was also his eighth goal against Montreal this season and left him second to Phil Esposito in Bruins franchise history for the most hat tricks in a single season– Pastrnak has four thus far, while Esposito notched seven hat tricks in the 1970-71 season for Boston.
Shortly after play resumed, Kuraly bumped into his own defender, Charlie McAvoy, and went down the tunnel, but returned to play unharmed ahead of the third period.
Entering the second intermission, the B’s led the Habs, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 26-19, in shots on goal through 40 minutes of play.
Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (11-2) and takeaways (4-1), while Montreal led in giveaways (8-6) and faceoff win% (56-44).
Both teams recorded 17 hits aside after two periods of action. The Canadiens were 0/2 on the skater advantage, while the Bruins were 1/2 on the power play heading into the final period.
Early in the final frame, McAvoy sent the puck off the boards and out of play, but received an automatic delay of game penalty despite the on-ice officials convening to determine if the puck had gone clearly out of play or otherwise (it was evident via replay that the puck glanced off the boards, changed direction and traveled out of the playing surface, but alas, delay of game penalties of this nature cannot be subject to video review).
So the Canadiens went on the power play at 4:19 of the third period, but the Habs continued to struggle on the skater advantage.
Gallagher tried to get under the skin of Bruins defender, John Moore, in the dying seconds of Montreal’s power play in effort to yield an extension on the advantage, but Moore was not biting and Gallagher actually caught the B’s defender with a high stick at 6:18, reversing the skater advantage from the Habs to Boston.
Despite being presented with another power play opportunity of the night, the Bruins failed to convert while Gallagher was in the box.
With about 2:34 remaining in the game, Canadiens head coach, Claude Julien, pulled Price for an extra attacker to try to muster a pair of goals for his team in the dying minutes of the game.
Despite using his team’s timeout after a stoppage with 43.7 seconds remaining, Montreal’s last ditch effort was no match for Boston’s strong defense and forward progression.
Pastrnak flipped the puck down the ice whereby Marchand won a battle along the boards and was able to free the puck to Bergeron (24) for the empty net goal that sealed the deal on Boston’s, 4-1, victory.
Marchand (48) had the only assist on Bergeron’s empty netter at 19:40 of the third period and finished the night with a pair of helpers.
At the final horn the Bruins had won and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 38-29, with the final score reading as a, 4-1, win over the Canadiens.
Boston wrapped up Wednesday night ahead of Montreal in blocked shots (13-6), as well, while the Habs finished the game leading in giveaways (10-8), hits (27-25) and faceoff win% (58-42).
The Canadiens went 0/3 on the skater advantage and the B’s went 1/3 on the power play in Wednesday night’s matchup.
Rask extended his franchise record for longest point streak to open a season at home– improving to 13-0-6 at TD Garden this season with the win.
The Bruins also improved to 20-5-3 when leading after the first period, 20-1-6 when leading after two periods and 21-7-8 when scoring the game’s first goal this season.
Boston wraps up their two-game homestand against the Detroit Red Wings next Saturday (Feb. 15th) before going on a four-game road trip with stops against the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.