Bruins

Pastrnak happily eyes his first playoff appearance

Pastrnak happily eyes his first playoff appearance

BOSTON -- David Pastrnak certainly paid the price for his first Stanley Cup playoff experience. 

The 20-year-old was sporting a giant, multi-colored and stitched up gash around his left eye from a Victor Hedman high stick during Boston's 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. But he also had a giant, crooked smile on his face after scoring a pair of goals in the victory. 

"Obviously it's a new feeling for me, you know, so I'm really enjoying it," said Pastrnak, who led the Bruins with a plus-3 rating in the win and finished with seven shot attempts to go along with his 33rd and 34th goals, and 70th point, of the season. "It's a lot of fun, and it's exciting.

"You know, now we've got ourselves in a spot we can actually fight for home ice and a good spot in playoffs. We can play a little bit more relaxed and know that we've made it, so it's a lot of fun. It's still hockey. We'll try [to win], obviously and it's going to be a little tougher, you know. [But we're] going to be ready for it. It's my third year and it finally came, but it's the first of more to come."

Everybody should be excited at the prospect of what an electric offensive player like Pastrnak could do to elevate his game going into the postseason, and a top-notch, tough performance in a high pressure game like Tuesday night's was a good coming attraction. It was also a nice bounce-back from a subpar Pastrnak outing over the weekend in Chicago, where he was dropped from David Krejci's line and the 12:25 of ice time vs. the Blackhawks was his lowest total for the entire season. 

So it was clear interim coach Bruce Cassidy was looking for a response from Pastrnak after the rare soft, turnover-prone performance from his dazzling young forward, and let's just say he got the hard-nosed, intelligent answer he was seeking out from his Czech winger in the Tampa win. 

"I thought he was terrific," said Cassidy. "We sat down a little bit this morning, talked about his game. In Chicago, I thought he had his moments, and I thought he could've been heavier on the puck in certain situations to give us a better chance to defend when we did give it up. David is going to be a creative player. We want that in him. He's dynamic, he can be a game-changer, and we want all those things. We want him to want the puck, and those situations play to his strengths. 

"But he also has to realize those times in a game when it gets closed down against good players that check him well that, you know, you've got to put the puck in a good place if you've got to give it up. That was the only message [to be sent]. Listen, he's a gamer. He comes to play every night. He's a terrific kid, he's got great character, and he wants to make a difference. So we're just trying to temper some of those situations where, you know, there's just too much risk."

So message received and delivered from Cassidy to another key player for the Bruins, and once again it elicited a big-time performance in a game the B's absolutely needed to get to punch Pastrnak's playoff ticket for the very first time.

Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

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Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

GOLD STAR: Who else but Anton Khudobin? The Bruins backup netminder improved to 6-0-2 on the season and upped his NHL-leading save percentage to .938 while making 40 saves in a shootout win over the New Jersey Devils. Khudobin was outstanding stoning players like Nico Hischier and Blake Coleman on breakaways, and stood tall in the third period while the Bruins were outshot 15-5 and ended up tying the game. Even better Khudobin was super-competitive in the shootout where he was challenging shooters, and even stared down Hischier after he poke-checked the puck away from him on his attempt. The Bruins don’t win Wednesday night’s game without Khudobin playing the way he did, and that should pretty much guarantee that he plays again on Friday afternoon against the Penguins.

BLACK EYE: One shot and one hit in 8:28 of ice time for Jimmy Hayes in his first game against his old Bruins team, so pretty much par for the course from the underachieving big guy. Hayes has scored a couple of goals for the Devils this season, but he’s been mostly the same as in the past with sporadic scoring, intermittent tough guy play in the danger areas and then long stretches where you don’t even notice the 6-foot-6 guy out on the ice. Of the two ex-Bruins forwards going up against their old team tonight, Drew Stafford was by far the better of the two with three shots on net and at least one pretty decent scoring chance among them after stealing a puck from Frank Vatrano.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins set things up for their shootout win with a strong opening first period when it came to finishing off plays. Yes, they were outshot by a 15-10 margin, but they also made two big plays with Jake DeBrusk scoring a goal and then David Pastrnak setting up Patrice Bergeron for his fifth goal of the season. Beyond that Anton Khudobin also stopped 14 pucks in the first period that included a number of scoring chances for the Devils, and it showed what the Bruins are capable of when they’re on the right side of some key plays early in the game. Sure, the Devils clawed their way back in, but the Bruins felt like they had the game in control because of the work they put in during the first period.

HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie McAvoy led all skaters with a game-high 27:04 of ice time, and played a strong game while totaling three shots on net and three blocked shots. But he saved the real good stuff for the 11th round of the shootout when he threw a nifty stick move at Cory Schneider, and then roofed a backhanded attempt in tight and close to the net. The McAvoy shootout move begged the question why it took so long to get to him, but also mercifully closed out a shootout session that felt like it could have gone on forever between the Bruins and Devils. The finishing move from the 19-year-old was pure, unadulterated skill with the puck.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the first NHL career point for Matt Grzelcyk arrived in the first period when he picked up an assist on a lead pass off the boards that freed Jake DeBrusk up for a goal-scoring rush.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s the end of a road trip, so give the guys credit. They dug down deep and found a way to get the two points.” – Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy,  

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Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

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Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

NEWARK, N.J. Charlie McCoy scored in the 11th round of the shootout to lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Anton Khudobin made 40 saves as Boston improved to 9-7-4 with its third straight win-all with Khudobin in goal.

Jake DeBrusk and Patrice Bergeron scored first period goals for the Bruins.

New Jersey has dropped three of its last five in falling to 12-5-4.

Jesper Bratt and Brian Gibbons scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider made 27 saves.

The shootout opened with Hall and David Pastrnak trading goals. And it stayed that way until McAvoy's game-winner

Prior to the extra period, the first of three regular season meetings between the longtime Eastern Conference rivals was essentially a special teams affair.

Despite not scoring on their four power plays and surrendering a man advantage goal to the Devils, it was the Bruins who left with two points thanks to two first period even strength strikes and the play of their ostensible backup goaltender.

The Bruins struck first when rookie left winger DeBrusk opened the scoring with his fifth of the season with a shot from the right circle at 1:25. And Bergeron added to Boston's lead with his fifth of the season at 11:02.

The Bruins had a two-goal lead and Khudobin, who made his third straight start, tried to make it hold up with a pad save on a Nico Hischier break-in with and a diving stop on Travis Zajac in a span of 1:13. But there was nothing he could do on Bratt's power play goal with 2:50 left as New Jersey's rookie right winger lifted a loose puck in the slot to halve the deficit while Brian Boyle was tied up with Zdeno Chara in front of Khudobin. A video review upheld the goal.

The game remained 2-1 until the Devils equalized on Gibbons' top-of-the-crease deflection with 4:44 left in regulation. Up to that point, though, Khudobin was the story as the netminder stopped a Blake Coleman shorthanded attempt with 10:35 left in the second. Khudobin also benefitted from Hischier, the first overall pick in last June's NHL draft, losing control of the puck alongside the goal line late in the period. Midway through the third, Khudobin stoned Hischier from the top of the crease.

The Devils outshot the Bruins, 42-29.

NOTES: Prior to the game, New Jersey announced RW Kyle Palmieri would miss 4-6 weeks with a broken right foot, suffered in the Devils' 4-3 overtime win in Minnesota Monday. The team later announced Palmieri had been placed on the injured reserve retroactive to Monday. .New Jersey scratched D Dalton Prout and RW Stefan Noesen. .Bruins C Ryan Spooner dressed for the first time since suffering a torn right adductor on Oct. 15. .Boston scratched LW Matt Beleskey, D Torey Krug and D Paul Postma. .The Bruins did not have LW Anders Bjork (undisclosed), LW Brad Marchand (upper body injury), RW David Backes (colon surgery) and D Adam McQuaid (broken right fibula). .Boston announced RW Jordan Szwarz had been sent down to AHL Providence. .The Devils announced Friday's home game against Vancouver will coincide with the team hosting the NHL and NHLPA "joint initiative Hockey Fights Cancer" as part of the "annual Cancer Awareness Month."

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.

Devils: Host Vancouver Friday night.

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