ST LOUIS – As has been the case in each of the first three rounds of the playoffs this spring, there’s only so long that you can hold down the Perfection Line.
Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak finally busted through for a combined two goals and five points on Saturday night in Boston’s 7-2 massacre of the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 at the Enterprise Center. Bergeron led the way with a goal and three points including the B’s first goal of the game during a three-goal uprising in the first period, and it put far into the rearview the first two games of the series when the high-powered, pretty perfect trio combined for just a single empty net goal.
After the game it was pretty clear that the three forwards were getting perturbed about the media converging on them after a couple of so-so games in the Stanley Cup Final, with Marchand multiple times saying that they “just got lucky tonight” in finally breaking through offensively.
“Yeah, we got lucky tonight,” said Marchand, while choking down the laughter while answering the question. "We’ll take that one and hopefully we’re good next time. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. We knew we would be better, but it was just one of those nights where things bounce your way. You can’t expect that to happen every night.”
Marchand and everybody else knows that luck ain’t got nothing to do with it, but it’s pretty clear that an angry, determined Perfection Line with a point to prove is a pretty good thing for the Bruins.
It was Bergeron that started things off in the first period when he tipped home a Torey Krug point rocket on the power play, and then loudly and aggressively celebrated with his teammates at the Bruins bench. Then it was Pastrnak just 41 seconds into the second period making the Blues pay for incorrectly attempting to challenge an offside play on a goal, and he popped in the PP rebound of another Torey Krug shot from the point.
Both Marchand and Bergeron picked up the helpers on a Krug point blast on the PP that chased Jordan Binnington from the game when it was a 5-1 lead for the Black and Gold, and that was enough for the top line to ensure Boston once again had the home-ice advantage. The trio still only combined for 10 shots on net and 14 shot attempts overall and there wasn’t any 5-on-5 production in a trend that’s been consistent during these Cup Final. But it won’t really matter if Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak can be that efficient and deadly as they were on the man advantage on Saturday night, and it doesn’t really matter where the goals come from as long as they arrive against a Blues team that’s outgunned offensively in this series.
The best part is the Bruins sounded genuinely unsatisfied after just blowing the doors off the Blues, and have their eyes on the goal.
“We are comfortable playing in these kinds of games. Now we need to refocus and just get back to it tomorrow,” said Pastrnak. “We know that we still haven’t played our best. But we won and now we need to meet tomorrow, watch the video and get even better. That’s our focus in this group. We’ve got a lot of good players so we know we can elevate even more.”
And the Bruins collectively were confident it was going to come from their top three forwards just like it has all season. Pastrnak smirked when asked what kind of pressure those three put on themselves to step up and score in this pivotal Game 3 win, and gave the perfect answer in response to the question showing A) their general annoyance at the criticism over the first couple of games and B) just how sky-high their confidence is after lighting up opposing teams for the better part of the last two seasons as the NHL’s most prominent line.
“I don’t know,” said Pastrnak, when asked how much pressure they felt to perform after going silent in the first two games. “From a [scale] of 1-10 about a ‘2.’ Yeah. It’s about time that we get going. But the whole playoffs we’ve had all the lines going, and that’s how a team works.”
The numbers back up the notion that it just takes a little time for Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak to figure out the other team in each of the three previous playoff series. In Games 1 and 2 of each playoff series the Perfection Line has combined for just four 5-on-5 points with a minus-17 in eight games during this playoff run. In Games 3-7 of the playoff series thus far the top trio has combined for 19 goals, 39 points and a plus-29 in 12 games played this far in this postseason.
That pretty much tells the story that it takes a couple of games for the Perfection Line to assess their opponent, figure out what’s going to work and then get to work on exploiting whatever matchup they’re going to be in for a best-of-seven series.
The good news for the Bruins?
Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak are now locked in on the Blues after their two-goal outburst in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final series, and need only two similar uprisings to capture the Cup and prove once and for all that there is something pretty damn perfect about them as a trio.
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