Krejci hat trick leads Bruins over Penguins 8-4

Krejci hat trick leads Bruins over Penguins 8-4

BOSTON – The Bruins went into Thursday night calling their match-up with the reigning champ Penguins a measuring stick game, and they must have come out of it feeling pretty darn good about themselves.

That’s because the Bruins piled up eight goals on the Penguins without their best player in Patrice Bergeron, and exploded with three power play goals in an 8-4 win at TD Garden after a special teams’ slump for the better part of a month.  

The Bruins enjoyed a whopping nine players with multi-point nights including a David Krejci hat trick for the first time in six years, and a two-goal, three point outburst from David Pastrnak after a quiet offensive period from him as of late.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses as Tuukka Rask gave up three tough goals on seven shots in the first period, but the Bruins offense wasn’t going to let them fall behind the Penguins on this night. Instead they poured it on after an early goal from Olli Maatta, and David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Rick Nash all scored within the first six minutes of the game.

Phil Kessel came back and scored on a bad angle goal to seize some of the momentum back, but David Backes and Torey Krug responded with a couple more first period scores that insured the Bruins weren’t going to fall back behind.

The Penguins got another at the end of the first period on a nice individual play from Riley Sheahan, but the Bruins pulled away in the second period when Krejci and Pastrnak continued pouring on the offense. It was a strong night for a couple of the new guys as well with both Nick Holden and Brian Gionta getting on the score sheet in their Bruins debuts, and leading an all-around effort that send a message to a Penguins team that was hurting without injured goalie Matt Murray.


NHL Playoffs: David Pastrnak's absence exposed huge issue for Bruins

NHL Playoffs: David Pastrnak's absence exposed huge issue for Bruins

The Boston Bruins experienced something scary Thursday: They had to play a game without a star player. 

That sound you hear is absolutely nobody shedding any tears for the Bruins, especially around the NHL. The Tampa Bay Lightning sure would like to have Steven Stamkos, but they're plugging along. 

Yet the Bruins being without David Pastrnak in Game 2 against the Hurricanes served as a reminder of a major problem with Boston's roster: Their depth on the wing is nonexistent. 

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In looking at what might sink the Bruins this postseason, my biggest guess was production from wingers outside of Brad Marchand and Pastrnak. Aside from the Bergeron line, there Boston doesn't have a single line with two set-it-and-forget-it wingers. Ondrej Kase has been OK so far with David Krejci, but he'll need to be better. Jake DeBrusk is a good player who has struggled to finish.

What should really illustrate the issue is that Nick Ritchie is not only in the lineup, but on Boston's third line. 

So when Pastrnak was deemed unfit to play in Game 2, there was a domino effect that Boston didn't really have the pieces to withstand in a 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes. Anders Bjork jumped up to Pastrnak's spot and Karson Kuhlman played on the third line. 

The Bergeron line was still good for Boston, the second line allowed a pair of goals and the third line rarely had the puck. There were other reasons for this -- most notably Carolina needing to come out and carry the play -- but all it took was one injury to significantly weaken the Bruins. 

That's where you just can't help but still dwell on how the Bruins approached the trade deadline. Last year, they needed help on the wing and Don Sweeney made a smart move for Marcus Johansson. This year, the focus at the deadline was creating cap space. They did this by paying the Anaheim Ducks a first-round pick and a prospect (Axel Andersson) to take 75 percent of David Backes' contract and throw in Kase. They then downgraded from Danton Heinen to Ritchie, which saved them over $1.3 million. 

Those moves would have been good if it meant they used all that money they saved to get a sure-thing forward they could play at the wing. New Jersey Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri, an annual 25-goal scorer, was available for the right price. Tyler Toffoli was rumored to be on the Bruins' radar, but went to the Vancoucver Canucks for a player, a prospect and picks. 

So while the cash-strapped Bruins managed to create space at the deadline, they opted against using that space to improve a team that was on its way to the Presidents' Trophy. Meanwhile, the Lightning were adding real pieces like Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman. 

Kase has been good so far. If he can continue to get better playing alongside Krejci, that checks a major box. Ritchie is what he is. The Bruins would have been better off keeping Heinen, as that trade just created another hole. 

The Bruins need more on the wing, and they don't really have it. If Pastrnak's injury is serious, Sweeney's trade deadline oversight could be even more costly.

Bruins vs. Hurricanes Talking Points: Late mistake costs B's in Game 2 loss

Bruins vs. Hurricanes Talking Points: Late mistake costs B's in Game 2 loss

The Carolina Hurricanes responded in Game 2 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Boston Bruins with a 3-2 win that tied the series at 1-1.

Here are some talking points from Game 2:

GOLD STAR: The Hurricanes' star players didn't exactly light it up in Game 1, but they came to play in Game 2 for Carolina. Andrei Svechnikov is one of the best young players in the NHL and he showed it on Thursday night while scoring a go-ahead goal in the second period on a one-time rocket that beat Tuukka Rask to the blocker side and gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead.

Svechnikov finished with a goal and two points and a plus-2 rating in 15 minutes of ice time. He also added three hits while mixing things up physically with Charlie McAvoy on a hard hit in the corner followed by an up-close-and-personal encounter with Zdeno Chara.

Svechnikov showed both the physicality and the skill in an impressive package in Carolina’s win over Boston in Game 2.

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BLACK EYE: Jake DeBrusk has now had a bevy of offensive chances in the first two games of this series and he continues to have issues finishing off those chances. DeBrusk at least a half-dozen Grade-A scoring chances in Game 1 -- he hit a pair of posts and missed an empty net -- but couldn’t do anything to push the B’s over the finish line in an eventual double-overtime win.

DeBrusk again had chances in Game 2 on a line that was clicking with David Krejci and Ondrej Kase most of the night, but couldn’t finish on any plays where another goal could have made a big difference for the Black and Gold. Add in that he was a minus-2 in the game, it wasn’t a banner night for DeBrusk. 

TURNING POINT: About midway through the second period the Bruins lost their energy and verve, and Carolina seemed to take over the pace and style of the game while getting to the Black and Gold with their speed and pressure. That Bruins had a couple of chances to clear pucks ahead of the Hurricanes scoring the game-winning goal, and it was David Krejci who eventually made the key mistake.

Instead of icing the puck and calming things down, the Bruins center threw a blind puck to the side boards that Martin Necas instantly picked up and carried behind the net before feeding Dougie Hamilton for a point blast. Krejci was brilliant with a goal and two points while playing over 20 minutes of ice time, but his mistake in the third period ended up being very costly for Boston. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Brad Marchand enjoyed his best game in the bubble when he scored a power-play strike at the end of the second period to tie up the game and showed he was engaged both mentally and physically in the series. Marchand camped at the post and banged home the power-play rebound of a Patrice Bergeron shot that rang off the post, and finished with a goal and two points in 20:31 of ice time.

Marchand added four shots on net, seven shot attempts and two hits in an active all-around game where he was shooting the puck and getting much closer to his game. Marchand had some excellent shifts on the penalty kill as well while bringing his “A” game for the Black and Gold in a very close loss without his right wing partner-in-crime David Pastrnak

BY THE NUMBERS: .889 – the save percentage for Rask in two games vs. Carolina in this series while stopping just 48 of the 54 shots that he’s faced and allowing 3.00 goals per game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “There’s no atmosphere. So it feels like an exhibition game. We’re trying our best to ramp and get energized, and make it feel like it’s a playoff game.” – Rask, critical of the bubble hockey atmosphere after Thursday's loss.

His teammates sure seemed to play like it was a playoff game, though.