Pastrnak, Bruins take 3-2 series lead after wild third period

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David Pastrnak has taken a lot of heat in these playoffs.

While Pastrnak had nine points in 11 games coming into Game 5 on Saturday night in Boston, he also suffered through two streaks without a goal (one for three games, the other for four) during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and those struggles drew plenty of attention.

The hot Pastrnak takes will further be cooled after a two-goal performance, including the timeliest of timely goals to break a tie game late in the third period, providing the sauce needed to push the Bruins past the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 to take a 3-2 series lead.

Boston’s best had been anything but prior to Game 4, with just a single point — a goal off Pastrnak’s skate. The result was a 2-1 series deficit. When your top three players — Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron — don’t score, games aren’t won.

That changed in Game 4 when the trio combined for three goals and five points in a 4-1 win to level the affair. On Saturday, the outpouring of offense continued with a further six points attributed to them.

Marchand set up Pastrnak twice in the game and scored the goal to make it 2-0 early in the third.

The narrative for this story initially read like a book of praise for Tuukka Rask with about 10 minutes left in the third period.

Not only had Rask stifled the Columbus Blue Jackets at every juncture, but a 10-1 start to the final frame on the shot clock also suggested that perhaps the Blue Jackets had started to run on empty.

Columbus appeared to punch themselves out in the second frame (they looked gassed throughout the first two periods, if we’re being honest). They found 15 shots but couldn’t find a way past Rask, who looked particularly on point on Columbus’ lone power-play attempt in the period.

But a sharp-angle shot from Seth Jones that squeaked over the goal line breathed some life into the Blue Jackets and ushered in three minutes of mayhem that would wildly change the game.

Pastrnak’s first of the game was the answer the Bruins were looking for right after a long break for a review. The goal came 43 seconds after Jones’ to steady the ship.

Or not.

Ryan Dzingel answered 51 seconds after that and Dean Kukan tied the game just under two minutes later as the Blue Jackets resurrected themselves and their chances in the game.

Pastrnak’s goal at 18:32 puts the Bruins on the right side of the odds. Teams that win Game 5 in a series level at 2-2 coming into go on to win said series roughly 80 percent of the time.

Boston will get their chance to finish off the Blue Jackets at 7 p.m. on Monday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The Blue Jackets have yet to face elimination in these playoffs but will have the cannon on their side in Game 6. They’ve shown tremendous resiliency, and they’ll have to find that resolve two more times if they want to book a date against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck