During the offseason, Boston went through some big, sometimes Zdeno Chara-sized changes. They still employ “The Perfection Line,” though, and that made the difference as the Bruins stunned the Flyers 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday.
David Pastrnak was especially explosive, collecting a hat trick in regulation, then assisting on Patrice Bergeron‘s overtime power-play game-winner. Like Pastrnak, Bergeron generated four points (1G, 3A). While Brad Marchand “only” ended up with an assist, he was usual ubiquitous self.
It seemed like Carter Hart and the Flyers would hold the Bruins at bay, even after a bad start. Instead, the penalties started piling up, and “The Perfection Line” reminded the hockey world why you shouldn’t leave the door open even a crack against them.
Pastrnak hitting the ground running after offseason surgery
Considering that David Pastrnak is recovering from offseason surgery, and seemed to come back sooner than some expected, you’d anticipate rust for the star winger. Instead, Pastrnak remained productive early and often for the Bruins against the Flyers.
Coming into Wednesday, Pastrnak had three points (2G, 1A) in two games, both against the Washington Capitals. When Pastrnak scored just 12 seconds into the game, it seemed like the up-and-down Flyers might have a “here we go again” feeling.
For much of the first period, it seemed like it would be a long night for the Flyers.
At the end of the first period the Flyers and Bruins each have 8 shots on net.
At 5-on-5 the Flyers have a 45.45 Corsi-for percentage (15 shot attempts for, 18 against) and a 58.65 Expected Goals-for percentage. pic.twitter.com/7qGPEd33Yo
— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 4, 2021
Philly shook off that start, but Pastrnak frequently created dangerous chances alongside partners in crime Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Down 3-1 in the third period, the Bruins got some new life after Bergeron coolly found Pastrnak for a beauty of a goal.
Despite an awkward zone entry, the Bruins gained a territorial advantage in the waning moments of the third period. From there, Pastrnak would not be denied, collecting the ninth hat trick of his career by making it 3-3 with about 15 seconds remaining in regulation.
Hayes, JVR leading the way for the Flyers
With Sean Couturier sidelined, the Flyers need other top players to answer the call. It hasn’t always been pretty; Kevin Hayes ranked among Flyers who took lethal late penalties during the Bruins’ rally.
But credit big-budget Flyers for delivering.
James van Riemsdyk and Hayes both cost at least $7M in salary cap terms, and they’ve been leaders in scoring. JVR kept creating chances, and finally boosted his team-leading points total to 14 with a crisp assist to Joel Farabee. Meanwhile, Hayes scored his sixth goal of the season, one that tied the game 1-1 at the time.
On Wednesday, the best stars of the Flyers couldn’t outshine the Bruins’ best. But Hayes and JVR are at least giving their team a shot.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.