RALEIGH, North Carolina -- Every once in a while David Pastrnak does something outrageous to remind just how special he is as a hockey player, and the 21-year-old did that once again in the third period of Tuesday night’s epic comeback in Carolina. Pastrnak scored a hat trick in the final 10 minutes of the game and led a five-goal onslaught that brought the B’s all the way back from a three-goal deficit, and instead gave them a 6-4 win over the Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
Mix the three goals with a slick, no-look pass from Pastrnak to Brad Marchand for Boston’s first goal in the first period, and it was an electric night for No. 88 when it looked like it was going to be all kinds of forgettable after the second period. Some nights it’s the dazzling speed or the clever playmaking, but on this night it was hammering pucks past Cam Ward with the kind of shot and release reserved for natural goal-scorers.
“Unbelievable. That kid. When he turns it on he is special,” said Brad Marchand of Pastrnak, who clearly turned it on scoring his 25th, 26th and 27th goals of the season during Boston’s late game outburst. “He just kind of took over in the third, but it was a phenomenal play on that first [goal].”
Redemption might have actually been the best motivator for Pastrnak as it was his power play misplay at the offensive blue line that turned a puck over, and gave a free shorthanded chance for Carolina that Brock McGinn put in 51 seconds into the third period. It’s certainly the mark of a maturing young player when they’re immediately looking to atone for their mistakes, and it’s the mark of a great player that they can do it with that kind of a three-goal exclamation point.
“That’s the sign of maturity and that he cares,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He probably figures that he let the team down, and now he’s got to go do something to pick them up again. He certainly did that. Good for him and we needed it. Let’s face it. Your top guys need to be your top guys, especially when you’re down a few. They came through again.”
It still took another nine minutes for Pastrnak and the Bruins to get going, but then it was the right winger blasting slappers from both face-off circles before finishing things off with an empty net goal for his first career hat trick.
“It was a weird game. There wasn’t much energy in the game, and we didn’t play well…or up to our standards. Then the [Matt Grzelcyk] goal happens and it’s 4-2, so that definitely got us going. We don’t quit. That definitely showed [in the game],” said Pastrnak, who led the Bruins with six shots on net in his nearly 18 minutes of ice time. “It was awesome for us. We had 2-on-1s on two shifts in a row after we got it to 4-4. I don’t get it. The whole night we don’t have the legs and look kind of tired. No energy.
“Then we get a couple of goals and everybody is flying. Everything clicks for us. I guess we all wish we know how to turn the click. I think a big part is that we’re a good team, and we have a lot of good players.”
And Pastrnak is one of those best players in the middle of a late season hot streak with four goals and 10 points in his last five games along with a plus-4 rating and 21 shots on net. That's a bit of a change from last season when he was targeted with physical play, and wasn't quite as explosive late in the year as he was early on.
That has not been the case this month.
It’s been something watching Pastrnak and Marchand continue to do their thing at this point while missing their center, and even every once in a while erupt for something truly special as they did in a previously sleepy Tuesday night game in Carolina.