GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak went nuts in the third period with a hat trick to help spearhead the Bruins to a five-goal outburst that allowed them to erase a three-goal deficit, and win a very unlikely game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Pastrnak finished with three goals and four points along with a plus-1 rating, but it was his turnover that led to a shorthanded goal at the start of the third period that might just have sparked the 21-year-old. From there he scored on a couple of lethal, sizzling shots from the face-off dot and then iced the game with an empty net goal from center ice to cinch the hat trick. Pastrnak finished with a game-high six shots on net in his 17:36 of ice time, and for the first time in a while really looked like the electric, game-breaking performer that we saw on a regular basis earlier in the year.
BLACK EYE: Brett Pesce was picked on in the third period when the Bruins began making their comeback, and he along with the rest of the Hurricanes had no answer for a B’s team that absolutely stampeded them. Pesce finished a game-worst minus-3 for the evening, had just one shot on net in his 16:23 of ice time and finished without a hit or a blocked shot in the kind of performance where you wonder if he was even on the ice. He wasn’t noticeable much at all in the first 40 minutes of the game, but he was on the ice for both the game-tying goal for Danton Heinen and the power play game-winner for David Pastrnak. Pesce had a rough, rough final 10 minutes of the game.
TURNING POINT: It was Matt Grzelcyk scoring Boston’s second goal of the game at nearly the exact midway point of the third period, and from that point on it was just all Bruins as they completely dominated possession, chances and everything else. They outshot the Canes by a 15-8 margin in the final 20 minutes and continued a variation on a season-long theme of completely dominating their opponents in that final period. Credit Grzelcyk, though, for stepping up and helping make the rest of it happen by scoring, and then Brad Marchand did the rest on the bench telling everybody else that they were still in the game down by two goals.
HONORABLE MENTION: Matt Grzelcyk needed to step up in the third period once Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug both went down, and he did exactly that at a time when the Bruins needed the mother of all sparks. Grzelcyk did it by scoring Boston’s second goal of the game, and the first of five unanswered scores to close out the game for the Black and Gold. That led them on their way to an unlikely comeback win, and it capped off a really strong night for the rookie defenseman. Grzelcyk finished with a goal, two points and a plus-2 rating in 19:26 of ice time, had two shots on net, two hits and four big blocked shots while absorbing a lot of minutes in the third period amid injuries. Grizz has had some very quiet games as of late with the Bruins working through an abundance of D-men, but he truly stepped up when the B’s really needed him.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 – the number of consecutive thirty goal seasons for Brad Marchand after scoring his 30th in the first period against Carolina. Marchand becomes the first B’s player to score 30 three straight seasons since fellow Nova Scotia native Glenn Murray did it for the Black and Gold way back in 2001-04.
BOSTON – It looks like Patrice Bergeron made it through his Game 5 return without any pressing issues or lingering problems that should limit his availability for the last couple of potential games in the best-of-seven series with the Maple Leafs.
Bergeron topped 20 minutes of ice time in the 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs in Saturday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden, and had six shots on net, 10 shot attempts, three hits and won 16-of-25 face-offs while being held without any points. There were times where No. 37 looked like he was playing through a little bit of pain, but the numbers certainly don’t back that up as he was still very strong even if he was less than 100 percent.
“I won’t project past Game 6. He made it through [the Game 5 loss] healthy and he finished the game,” said Bruce Cassidy on Saturday night following Game 5. “You always want to see how they are in the morning. I don’t anticipate there will be any issues going into Game 6. Of course, that could change, but that’s the way it is right now.”
Bruce Cassidy indicated after Saturday night’s loss that Bergeron, who has five assists and a plus-3 rating in four games vs. the Leafs, finished the game without issue, and further said at Sunday’s chat with the media that he wasn’t expecting health issues would cause any lineup changes for Monday night’s very important Game 6 in Toronto. Bergeron was also spotted at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday afternoon and certainly looked no worse for the wear, so the B’s aren’t bracing for any last minute scratches in a heavy duty playoff game on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre.
“We’ll reassess on [Monday] morning when guys go back on the ice health-wise,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Sometimes they feel good today and then they get on the ice…I don’t anticipate much going on health-wise, but we went up to Toronto [earlier this week] and one game Bergeron didn’t play and then Grzelcyk in another one. So [a change in the lineup] could happen.”
That would indicate Bergeron came through Saturday night’s heavy workload without any further issues, and that perhaps he’s over the hump with whatever upper-body injury caused him to miss a game in the middle of the series. That’s a great sign with the Black and Gold in serious need of all hands on deck for another chance to eliminate the Maple Leafs on Monday night in Toronto.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while spring appears to finally be arriving in Boston.
*Some solid war stories from the NHL penalty box compiled by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt at Sports Illustrated.
*Keeping an eye on the Tampa Bay Lightning, and rookie D-man Mikhail Sergachev is enjoying a strong playoff series for the Bolts as they advanced past the New Jersey Devils this weekend.
*Nazem Kadri definitely helped make a difference for the Maple Leafs in Game 5 at the Garden, and Toronto is going to need more of that if they’re going to force a Game 7.
*The Philadelphia Flyers are finally ratcheting up some drama with the Penguins in their first-round series.
*Good memories from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Goucher out in Vegas as he talks about Gil Santos at the time of the New England sports legend’s passing this week.
*For something completely different: When you’re writing think pieces about Adam Sandler, it may be time to reevaluate things.