Pastrnak beefs up Bruins’ Atlantic lead; Things look grim for hurting Habs

Pastrnak hat trick Habs lose Bruins boost Atlantic lead
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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.