The Boston Bruins needed a goal Wednesday night, and it was David Pastrnak who came through.
Because who else could it be?
As he’s done often this season, it was the young winger who played hero, scoring the winner in overtime to give the B’s a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Since the Toronto Maple Leafs were idle, Pastrnak’s goal, his 43rd of the campaign, brings him back into a share of the league lead with Auston Matthews.
After a missed shot attempt from Edmonton, Torey Krug poked the puck along the boards, and David Krejci corralled it at the left wing boards. Pastrnak had the foresight to break out, and Krejci found him with a stretch pass to Boston’s offensive blue line. The 23-year-old received the pass, gained the zone and made a move to his backhand to burn Oilers netminder Mike Smith.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 20, 2020
“Torey had the 1-on-2 and made a great defensive play. Krech won the battle and I was gone so he sent it over,” Pastrnak said after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “(Smith made) a little fake poke check, so I figured I’d try to go five-hole.
“As soon as Torey poked it to Krech in the corner (I knew I could break out),” Pastrnak later noted. “He had a split second, and with a player like Krech that’s all you need, if I get a step he’s just going to give it to me.”
Indeed it was Krejci who made the pass, and he revealed to NESN’s Sophia Jurksztowicz after the game what was going through his head when he saw his countryman gunning down the ice.
“Any time I see Pasta open, give him the puck,” Krejci said. “He’s one of the best players in the league, in the world. Just give him the puck, good things happen.”
Tough to argue that logic.
Here are some other notes from Wednesday’s Bruins-Oilers game:
— Tuukka Rask really is playing on another level right now.
While it’s been well-documented that Rask has been at a high level since the All-Star break, it really predates that.
The veteran goalie turned away 28 of the 29 shots he faced against Edmonton. With that performance, Rask now is 9-1-1 with a .951 save percentage and 1.45 goals against average over his last 12 starts.
“He’s really on right now. I’m sure like every other player he feels it at certain times of the year,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley after the game. “He’s seeing pucks and they’re sticking to him and he’s under control. And other times, like a lot of goalies, players it’s a little more of a challenge. But right now he’s in one of those zones, we’ve seen a lot of it lately the last couple years, so good for him. We need goaltending, we’re no different than anyone else. … It looks like nothing is going to get past him, and not a lot has.”
— Cassidy really shortened his bench up front. Outside of Charlie Coyle, none of Boston’s bottom six forwards played more than 12:58 in the win.
Karson Kuhlman, Anders Bjork, Chris Wagner, Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom all played fewer than 11 minutes.
— Similarly, one has to wonder if John Moore is going to slot back into the lineup Friday against the Calgary Flames.
Jeremy Lauzon has been playing over Moore on the third pairing, but the young blueliner was kept to just 14:33 ice time, though he was used plenty on the penalty kill. And while he hasn’t played poorly, sometimes that decreased ice time can be a precursor to Cassidy making a change to the lineup in an upcoming game.
This is a theory more than anything, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
— The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t play Wednesday, so the B’s now are three points clear atop the league standings.
Tampa gets back in action Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights.