David Pastrnak is one of the best goal-scorers in the NHL, but the Bruins winger might be seeing this one in his sleep for a while.
The Boston sniper must be thinking “what if?” after a first-period gaffe in the B’s eventual 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders in Game 4 of their Stanley Cup playoffs second-round series. New York’s win evened the series at two games apiece.
Perhaps Game 4 would have played out differently had Pastrnak capitalized on a golden opportunity late in the first period. The 2020 Rocket Richard Trophy was left all alone in the left faceoff circle where Patrice Bergeron found him with a gorgeous cross-ice pass. The entire New York defense and goalie Semyon Varlamov bit on Bergeron’s carry down the opposite wing, leaving a wide-open cage for Pastrnak to give Boston an early lead.
Instead, he hit the post.
Of course, who knows how things would have gone had Pastrnak scored that goal, but it was effectively a one-goal final until the Islanders added a pair of late emtpy-net goals.
Pastrnak’s miss was a sign of a frustrating night to come.
“That’s when you know it might be a tough night for us in terms of getting things to go our way, when your best player hits the post on an open net, and it just kind of sits there,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game over Zoom. “It’s going to be one of those nights where you’re probably not going to get the breaks so you have to go earn them yourself.”
Here are some more notes from Bruins-Islanders Game 4.
— The Bruins certainly struggled to earn those breaks late in the game, as the Islanders put them in a death lock after Mat Barzal scored the eventual game-winner at 13:03 of the third. Boston would register one more shot on the goal the rest of the game and went without a shot on Varlamov for the final 6 minutes and 18 seconds.
— When was the last time Patrice Bergeron has struggled this much in the faceoff circle? He won just 10 of 24 draws Saturday night, which was an improvement over his 6-for-18 showing in Game 3. The difference-maker is New York’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who has won 19 of 30 battles in the dot over the last two games opposite Bergeron. Expect Cassidy to get away from that matchup when the series returns to Boston and the B’s have last change.
— The key to slowing down the Bruins is slowing down the first line. Easier said than done, of course, but the results speak for themselves.
— Bruins winger Taylor Hall was kept off the score sheet but did try to contribute in other ways, like dropping the gloves and fighting — for the first time in 10 years. Hall and Scott Mayfield squared off in the first period, and it was Hall’s first fighting major since 2011.
— Speaking of fisticuffs, Jarred Tinordi chucked some knuckles in his return to the lineup. Tinordi drew in for the injured Brandon Carlo and had himself a pretty nice game. His evening really started in earnest midway through the first when he and Matt Martin had a fight of their own. Tinordi logged just over 13 minutes of ice time, including 2:44 on the penalty kill. He wasn’t on the ice for any Islanders goals, blocked two shots and even added a pair of shots on goal.
— Cassidy wasn’t pleased with his team’s willingness — or lack thereof — to shoot. The Islanders edged the B’s 60-57 in shot attempts, but Cassidy wanted to see more.
“The lack of urgency to get a puck to the net, it was a bit of the formula tonight in general,” he said. “We weren’t willing to shoot enough, to at least sort of get to their goaltender. We paid the price for it. That’s why we didn’t score 5-on-5, just turned down way too many shots.”
— David Krejci scored the Bruins’ lone goal on the power play. It was the 41st career playoff tally for the center, who passed John Bucyk for sole possession of sixth place on the club’s all-time leaders list.