Pastrnak hat trick Habs lose Bruins boost Atlantic lead
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Pastrnak beefs up Bruins’ Atlantic lead; Things look grim for hurting Habs

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The Habs simply had no answer for David Pastrnak on Wednesday. With the Bruins winning 4-1, the Canadiens receive another push to undergo painful soul-searching.

Pastrnak surges to Richard lead; Habs can’t stop Bruins’ stars

In this case, Pastrnak was doing the soul-scorching.

Pastrnak skyrocketed to first in the Maurice Richard Trophy race at 41 goals thanks to a brilliant hat trick. Other Bruins certainly helped, particularly when Brad Marchand (three assists) made a tremendous move setting up the 1-0 goal. “Pasta” showed great finish and anticipation on all three goals, though, and figures to give Alex Ovechkin and Auston Matthews a run for their money.

Boston’s top trio combined for all of Boston’s goals, as Patrice Bergeron finished with an empty-netter and an assist.

The Bruins improved their chances of winning the Atlantic Division with this win.

Boston sits at the top spot with 82 points (35-11-12 in 58 games played) ahead of the Lightning (79 points, 37-15-5 in 57 GP).

Pastrnak, Bruins hurt playoff chances for Habs

In the uncomfortably likely event that the Habs miss the playoffs, Pastrnak will rank as one of the leading reasons why.

Pastrnak ended Wednesday with a ridiculous eight goals in four games against the Habs this season.

Montreal is also reeling following news of Shea Weber being injured. While the four-to-six week prognosis beat more pessimistic estimates, it’s another brutal blow to their chances. The Canadiens fell to 27-25-7 (61 points in 59 games played) in 2019-20. It’s tough to imagine them catching other bubble teams, including the Flyers (second wild-card spot with 69 points in 57 GP).

Zdeno Chara and Brendan Gallagher: not friends

Gallagher isn’t quite the pest that Marchand can be, yet he can get under opponents’ skin. Sometimes, that style means losing the benefit of the doubt.

In a moment that would have been more controversial if the game ended up closer, Chara and Gallagher received matching minor penalties from this exchange:

Chara moved his head back in a gesture to imply that Gallagher embellished. It sure seemed like Gallagher and Montreal received a raw deal, with some calling for Chara to be suspended.

No doubt, there was some of that rivalry nastiness on Wednesday. The odds of the Canadiens meeting the Bruins in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs look slim thanks to nights like these, however.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Looking back at the Blackhawks’ Scott Foster game

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With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to take an occasional look back at some notable “this day in hockey history” moments. Today, Scott Foster gets to play a game for the Chicago Blackhawks. 

Before there was David Ayres with the Carolina Hurricanes, there was Scott Foster with the Chicago Blackhawks.

It was two years ago Sunday that Foster, an accountant by day, was forced into action as the emergency goalie against the Winnipeg Jets.

He stopped all seven shots he faced in 14 minutes of ice-time to help the Blackhawks hold on for a 6-2 win. You can see the highlights of his performance in the video above.

At the time of Foster’s appearance the entire thing was pretty unheard of because the NHL hadn’t really seen an appearance like this — a non-professional player forced into a game — in the modern era.

It all happened because of a series of goaltending injuries that left the Blackhawks shorthanded at the position. Chicago signed Foster to an amateur tryout contract the night before the game due to injuries to Corey Crawford and Anton Forsberg. He was supposed to serve as the backup to rookie Collin Delia as he made his NHL debut. Everything was going as planned until Delia was also injured early in the the third period, forcing Foster into the game.

His performance earned him No. 1 star honors for the game.

Because the Blackhawks were already comfortably ahead when he entered the game he did not get credit for the win. It was probably the biggest highlight of the season for the Blackhawks as they missed the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

At the time Foster’s appearance and performance was mostly celebrated and treated as the feel-good story that it was.

But when Ayres had to enter a game for the Hurricanes this season — and ended up being the winning goalie against the Toronto Maple Leafs — there was a very vocal minority that thought it was an embarrassment for the league and that, maybe, the emergency goalie protocol needed to be changed. It was eventually decided that no change needed to be made. Even with two instances in the past couple of years it is still a very rare occurrence that needs a very specific set of circumstances to actually happen.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Olympic hockey on NBC: 2018 women’s gold medal game

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Hockey Week in America continues Sunday with the unforgettable Olympic women’s gold medal game in 2018.

NBC will present the women’s gold medal game at the 2018 Olympics between Team USA and Canada, won by the Americans in a 3-2 shootout in PyeongChang. With the victory, the women’s ice hockey team claimed its second ever Olympic gold medal and ended the Canadians streak of four straight gold medals.

Kenny Albert, AJ Mleczko and Pierre McGuire called the gold medal game in PyeongChang.

You can catch a replay of the 2018 women’s Olympics gold medal game Sunday on NBC at 1 p.m. ET or watch the stream here.

SUNDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Maple Leafs vs. Bruins (Game 7, Round 1, 2013 playoffs) – 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN
• Golden Knights vs. Sharks (Game 7, Round 1, 2019 playoffs) – 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN
• Kings vs. Blackhawks (Game 7, Western Conference Final, 2014 playoffs) – 12 a.m. ET on NBCSN

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

Capitals vs. Penguins on NBCSN: Kuznetsov’s overtime series clincher

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Hockey Week in America continues Saturday with memorable playoff performances in the Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin rivalry.

In 2018, the Capitals and Penguins met in Round 2 for the third straight postseason. Pittsburgh won the previous two series en route to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles. But this time Washington would have its revenge. Evgeny Kuznetsov would score in overtime of Game 6 to help the Capitals advance as they went on to win their first championship in franchise history.

You can catch Game 6 of the 2018 Penguins vs. Capitals playoff game Saturday night on NBCSN beginning at 12:30 a.m. ET or watch the stream here.

SATURDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Capitals vs. Penguins (Game 6, Round 2, 2018 playoffs) – 12:30 a.m. on NBCSN

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

Capitals vs. Penguins on NBCSN: Bonino Bonino Bonino!

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Hockey Week in America continues Saturday with memorable playoff performances in the Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin rivalry.

The Capitals needed a win to force Game 7 in Round 2 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Facing the Penguins yet again, the clawed back from a 3-1 third period deficit to force overtime. It was there, however, that Pittsburgh once again topped their Metro Division rivals. This time it was Nick Bonino breaking their hearts to put the Penguins on a path to the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup title.

You can catch Game 6 of the 2016 Penguins vs. Capitals playoff game Saturday on NBCSN beginning at 10 p.m. ET or watch the stream here.

SATURDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Capitals vs. Penguins (Game 6, Round 2, 2016 playoffs) – 10 p.m. on NBCSN
• Capitals vs. Penguins (Game 6, Round 2, 2018 playoffs) – 12:30 a.m. on NBCSN

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.