Bruins – Maple Leafs hits: Pastrnak bloodies Muzzin, Krug shaken up

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The Bruins left the Maple Leafs battered after the first period of Game 2 in taking a 2-0 lead, and not just figuratively speaking. (Live Stream Game 2 here; it’s also airing on NBC)

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin had an especially tough time in that opening period.

  • The first painful moment came when Muzzin flubbed a puck that the Bruins were able to retrieve, allowing David Pastrnak to set up Brad Marchand for a pretty 2-0 goal.
  • The second was a literal painful moment, and Pastrnak was once again prominently involved. Pastrnak was whistled for charging Muzzin after a hit in which Pastrnak elevated, leaving Muzzin bleeding. Pastrnak received a two-minute minor penalty for the check: was that too much, to light a punishment, or just right?

(You can see that hit in the video above this post’s headline.)

The Maple Leafs didn’t convert on the ensuing power-play opportunity, and need to rally if they want to win Game 2 and take a 2-0 series lead.

Moments before this post was about to be published, Muzzin got a measure of revenge. He delivered a hard hit on Bruins defenseman Torey Krug, who left the ice slowly and appears to at least be entering concussion protocol. Krug’s had a history of injury issues, during this season in particular, so this is troubling for the Bruins.

Boston responded with a 3-0 goal moments later, so this game could get really nasty. In fact, in the waning moments of the second period, Nazem Kadri was also shaken up by a collision.

Game 2 is airing on NBC. (Live Stream)

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.

Pastrnak’s five-point night helps Bruins tighten hold on second place

Give David Pastrnak the games back that he missed due to injury and it’s more than likely he’d be challenging the Alex Ovechkin and a couple others for the Rocket Richard.

Hell, he might be flirting with a 100-point season, too.

Alas, he’ll have to settle for a new career-high in goals after a magical night.

Gifted does not do Pastrnak justice and doesn’t begin to describe his goal-scoring abilities, and he put another show against the New York Rangers on Wednesday Night Hockey, sniping his third hat trick of the season in a five-point effort that as the Boston Bruins doubled up the Rangers 6-3 on NBCSN.

Pastrnak scored a goal in each period, included two power-play markers and another on the second line after a little line juggling saw Pastrnak move down to play with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk while Bruce Cassidy experimented with new linemates for Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the latter who contributed three assists in the game.

Pastrnak’s goals were his 34, 35 and 36 of the season, surpassing the 35 total he scored last year.

For good measure, ‘Pasta’ added a pair of assists to give him 77 points in 61 games this season. His third hat trick of the current campaign was the first time a Bruins player had achieved the feat since Cam Neely did so 25 years ago during the 1993-94 season.

The win, coupled with the Toronto Maple Leafs only managing to get a point against the Philadelphia Flyers in a 5-4 shootout loss, means the Bruins move six points clear of their Atlantic Division rivals, and will likely have home-ice advantage when the two teams inevitably meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It’s a big deal given that Boston has now won 12 straight at TD Garden.

The Rangers brought the game to 3-2 in the third period before penalty trouble ultimately sealed their fate later in the frame.

Mika Zibanejad scored twice, goals No. 29 and 30, for the lone silver lining for the Blue Shirts, who have won just twice in the month of March.

Henrik Lundqvist put himself in the save of the year conversation with his dandy in the first period.

Lundqvist made his 50th appearance for the Rangers this season, making him the seventh netminder in league history to have appeared in at least 50 games in at least 12 different seasons, joining a pretty elite crew of puck stoppers.

He is one win shy of 450 in his NHL career.


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

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins more than managing without Pastrnak

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Thursday night’s matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

A lot of ink has been spilled this year on the record-setting Tampa Bay Lightning, and for good reason.

They win basically all of the time, they have the guy who’s running away with the Hart and the other guy who’s running away with the Vezina. They haven’t lost a game in their past 10 outings and have points in their past 14. There’s plenty to write home about here.

But not lost on the rest of the NHL is how well the Boston Bruins have been playing as of late. Sure, the second-place Bruins are 19-points back of the Lightning in the Atlantic Division. There will be no catching them. But Boston, too, has points in their past 14 games. And like the Lightning, they haven’t lost in regulation in February.

And while Tampa has benefitted from a relatively healthy lineup this season, and has been without top names like Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, the Bruins have had to forge ahead without their leading scorer (at the time of his injury).

David Pastrnak‘s thumb injury (and subsequent surgery) could have had a devastating impact on the Bruins. He left the team with 31 goals and 66 points in 56 games when disaster struck on Feb. 10. It’s just standard fare to believe the Bruins might struggle without the guy but they’ve done anything but.

The Bruins will enter Thursday’s matchup against the Lightning with a 6-0-1 record since Pastrnak began his absence, and scoring hasn’t hit a snag during that time — the Bruins are average 3.71 goals per game in that span.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

The key to any team succeeding in the face of a major injury to one of its best and most productive players is others stepping up to fill the void. For Boston, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk heard the rallying cries loud and clear.

Krejci had 43 points in 56 games (0.77/game) prior to Pastrnak’s departure but has contributed 12 in the seven games since (1.71/game). Similarly, Jake DeBrusk had 19 points in 40 games (0.40/game) before Pastrnak’s ailment and 11 since then (1.57/game). Not surprisingly, the duo is the team’s two top scorers during that time.

Couple that with no slow down in Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron‘s game and you’ve essentially plugged the hole that could have led to a drastic leak. So you have a Boston Bruins team that has been able to hold off the Toronto Maple Leafs and retain that second-place standing.

And the good news is that Pastrnak is back to skating now as of this past Monday. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Pastrnak would be in a cast for the next two weeks (down to a week and a half at this point) and then will return to the lineup as his comfort level allows.

This is all to say that a very good Bruins team is getting their best player back just in time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Mike Milbury (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Paul Burmeister alongside Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter.

Injured thumb to keep Bruins’ Pastrnak out at least two weeks

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As the Boston Bruins host the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN), they’ll do so without the services of leading scorer David Pastrnak.

According to the team, as Pastrnak was walking to his ride following a sponsorship dinner on Sunday night he fell and injured his left thumb, which required surgery. That injury will keep him sidelined for at least two weeks, after which he’ll be re-evaluated. This should not jeopardize the rest of his 2018-19 NHL season, according to general manager Don Sweeney.

“I met with David yesterday morning,” said general manager Don Sweeney. “He was extremely upset, disappointed. He obviously feels like he let everybody down despite it being an accident.”

The Bruins’ positive spin for this is that it’ll give Pastrnak some time to rest up, but who knows if the injury will affect him once he’s back in the lineup.

Sweeney said on Tuesday that this injury will not affect his plans for the upcoming Feb. 25 trade deadline. If those plans included going out and adding a winger who can score, then yeah, sure. If not, well, that’s a head-scratcher.

The offense on the Bruins drops off after Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci. Jake DeBrusk is next in points with only 19, compared to Krejci’s 43. As a team they’ve scored 162 goals, averaging 2.88 per night in 56 games. They could use a couple of impactful forwards to help with secondary scoring, espcially with Tuesday’s news.

Artemi Panarin is out there, but will the price be too high for Sweeney to pay? And is he hesitant to go out and make a big deadline splash after the Rick Nash acquisition didn’t pan out a year ago?

“My feeling is that we would like to try and add without necessarily giving up what we know is a big part of our future,” Sweeney said during a season ticket holder event over the weekend, per NHL.com. “We committed assets last year to take a swing where we felt we needed to address an area of need and we will try and do a similar thing this year. I can’t guarantee that’ll happen. This time of the year, prices are generally pretty high, but we’re going to try. We’re going to try because I think we still need it.”

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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.

Lightning bounce Bruins from playoffs in five games

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The Tampa Bay Lightning will play for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Lightning earned a 3-1 decision in Game 5 on Sunday afternoon against the Boston Bruins, sending the Bruins into hibernation mode after taking the series 4-1.

The series will be largely defined by what the line of Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson were able to accomplish after Tampa’s top line of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and J.T. Miller took a back seat.

Point scored his third goal of the series to erase David Krejci‘s first-period tally, slotting home after making a patient play around Tuukka Rask.

Point, who finished with seven points in the series, helped the Lightning rebound from their 6-2 Game 1 defeat with a four-point night, a performance that one could argue was a turning point in the series. The Lightning cruised from there, allowing eight goals during their four-game winning streak.

Point’s time-on-ice jumped by over two minutes from Game 1 to Game 5, and it was well-deserved.

Contributions from Tampa’s top line weren’t as relevant as they were against the New Jersey Devils. Kucherov had 10 points in that series but just two points in the second round. Stamkos had a pivotal goal in Game 4 to force overtime, but had only an empty-netter otherwise.

Miller made his presence felt in Game 5, first by knocking David Backes out of the game with a crushing hit in the second period, and then minutes later, offering up the go-ahead goal that stood as the game-winner.

Boston, meanwhile, couldn’t find much in the way of scoring outside of Game 1.

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak combined four just four goals over the final four games of the series and secondary scoring from the Bruins was virtually non-existent, ultimately spelling the end to Boston’s season.

The Lightning now waits for the winner between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Washington leads the series 3-2 after a 6-3 win on Saturday.


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