Patient Pastrnak comes through in playoffs for Bruins

BOSTON — David Pastrnak flinched once, then twice, while he drifted into position for the perfect wrist shot that beat Ilya Sorokin for goal No. 1. His second score came in a flash to find a quickly closing shooting window.

To complete the hat trick, Pastrnak again waited out the defense, bringing the puck over the blue line, dipping it toward his backhand before stickhandling into the middle of the ice and wristing it past the Islanders goalie to clinch the Game 1 victory for the Boston Bruins.

“The fact that he waited them out does show that he’s gaining some of his confidence back, and a bit of his swagger,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Sunday, a day after Boston won the opener in a rejuvenated TD Garden. “So that’s good for us. When goal scorers get hot, that’s what happens a lot of the times.”

Islanders coach Barry Trotz said he didn’t blame his goaltender for the loss, but he declined to commit to another start for Sorokin in Game 2 on Monday night. Semyon Varlamov started 35 games in the regular season to Sorokin’s 21 and averaged 2.04 goals allowed to Sorokin’s 2.17.

“I have a couple more hours to mull it over,” Trotz said Sunday.

Pastrnak tied for the NHL lead with 48 goals during the 2019-20 season, then dipped to 20 in 48 games this year. He had just four goals in the last five weeks of the season, then started the first-round series against Washington with three straight goalless games.

But Pastrnak has now had three multi-point games in a row — including his second career postseason hat trick to beat the Islanders 5-2 on Saturday night.

Only Hall of Famers Phil Esposito (4), Cam Neely (3) and Johnny Bucyk (3) have more three-goal games in the postseason for the Bruins, and this one was perfectly timed for the shower of hats from Boston’s first full-capacity crowd since the start of the pandemic.

“It’s a tradition. It’s always fun — especially if it’s your team that scored a hat trick,” Pastrnak said. “You could feel the energy already this morning. We were all excited. On the warmup it felt like 22 players playing their first NHL game. Everybody looking around and so many people. It’s definitely a different game with the fans, and obviously a lot of fun today.”

With Saturday’s outburst, Pastrnak is second to Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon in goals for the 2021 postseason. He also has four assists while serving on the “Perfection Line” with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Asked what his team wasn’t doing against Boston’s top line, Trotz said, “Keeping them off the scoreboard.”

“We’ve got to challenge them a little bit more,” he said. “We backed off. They’re going to make plays through you.”

And that’s what Pastrnak did all night.

Cassidy said the 25-year-old Czech’s patience helped him find openings that might not have been there for a player who was feeling the pressure of a scoring slump.

“I think earlier this year he was trying to jam that in earlier than he needed to,” Cassidy said. “Some of that was because he hadn’t scored in a while. So you press, and it’s human nature, you want to get it in there before the goalie’s set.

“Nothing’s going in and it’s like, ‘OK, I’ve got to get it off even quicker,’” the coach said. “But sometimes it’s the opposite: Take your time a little bit more, get your head up, and try to get it where you need to get it.”

Pastrnak’s third goal came with 4:10 left in the third period after the teams spent the first 55 minutes of the series within a goal of each other. Taylor Hall added an empty-netter in the final 90 seconds.

That was a relief for the crowd, which was listed at 17,400 — the largest to see an NHL game in more than a year.

“The energy, the atmosphere was everything we expected and more,” Bergeron said. “To say that we’ve missed them is an understatement. I think you appreciate it even more when the fans kind of are taken away from the game a little bit for quite some time and you have to play without them. … Special, special night. It was good to have them and good to have the win.”

Also Sunday, Cassidy said that he would see how Craig Smith feels before Game 2. The Bruins right wing missed the third period of the series opener with an unspecified injury after a leg-on-leg collision with Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck.

Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk left the game for a period but was able to return, and Cassidy said he expected him to be available on Monday night. Defenseman Kevan Miller has missed the past two games and isn’t ready to return.

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.