It wasn’t the same playoff-like encounter that they had in Tampa two nights prior. But the Boston Bruins rebounded Wednesday night with an impressive outing against the New York Rangers.
The Bruins jumped on a rebuilding Rangers squad early and often. David Pastrnak led the offensive onslaught with his five-point night, while Brad Marchand added three points and Jaroslav Halak made 20 save.
“Listen, this is a time of year where you can’t get goofy either, so it has to be a controlled response, and I thought we did that by taking care of business on the scoreboard and then trying to assert ourselves physically throughout the period when the situation dictated,” Bruce Cassidy said following the 6-3 win. “We just didn’t have the extra “oomph.” We eventually found it. Maybe they brought it out of us. Whatever happened, we certainly got it going.”
Here’s what we learned after the Bruins’ exploded for a four-goal third — on tallies from Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy — to secure the victory.
Pastrnak is officially back
The Bruins somehow thrived without their leading goal as he nursed a thumb injury for over a month. But it’s clear that they are a better team when Pastrnak touches the ice.
Pastrnak was clearly at the heart of the offensive attack during his five-point night. The talented winger also became the first Bruin since Cam Neely in 1993-94 to notch three hat tricks in a season.
It took Pastrnak a game or two to shake off some rust. But the crafty Czech playmaker hasn’t missed a beat production wise with 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in his first five games back from his thumb injury.
The 2014 first rounder is picking up right where he left off at a good time.
“Pretty close. I mean, obviously, great night. He was firing the puck well, looked like he was more comfortable handling it in traffic. That was a bit of an issue a few games there. He was still finding his timing, so certainly put up points. So, yeah, I like where he’s at,” Cassidy said about Pastrnak.
“He’s got a little more energy too because he missed. This time of year, guys are trying to get to the finish line, to a certain extent. Everybody has something to play for, don’t get me wrong, but the playoffs are in sight. Because he missed time, like I said, he’s got a little more in the tank.”
Missing 16 games hasn’t stopped Pastrnak from having a career year. His four-goal outburst on Wednesday put him at 36 goals on the campaign, thus setting a new career-high in his sixth season.
“Yeah, I guess I’d say good. But I guess to be honest I’m very happy for the two points and just to be back at home ice and we’ve still got to go and try to get ready for the playoffs so we are at our best hockey when it starts,” Pastrnak said about his achievement. “Obviously it helps to me coming back, you know, after a long time haven’t missed a game. So it was a bit tough at the beginning but it was fun to be back at the Garden and play on home ice.”
Torey Krug and Marcus Johansson return
The injury-plagued Bruins are slowly getting back to full strength following Krug and Johansson’s much-needed return to the lineup.
Krug, who missed the previous six games with a concussion, made his presence felt right away on Boston’s primary power play unit. The 5-foot-8 blue-liner quarterbacked the man advantage with his puck-moving prowess as the Bruins scored all three of their power play tallies while he was on the ice.
The Michigan State finished with three shots on net in 22:12 of ice time.
“I felt good. I know it was a couple of weeks, but I was actually able — I was far enough through the protocol that I was able to skate for a while,” Krug said after becoming the team’s all time leader in points among U.S. born players with 285. “So as far as rest was concerned it wasn’t too bad. More just timing and trying to get the right reads, but overall I felt pretty good.”
Johansson (lung contusion) also looked pretty good in the middle of the lineup during his 12:16 of ice time. His chemistry with DeBrusk and David Krejci gives Cassidy a potent second line. Yet, much like Wednesday, the third-year Bruins bench boss never shies away from switching things up if needed.
As Cassidy noted: “we’ll see how it plays out.”
Boston’s Winter Classic throwbacks returned
Boston brought back its slick Winter Classic uniforms for the third time this season. The Rangers, meanwhile, wore their home blue and red uniforms giving the game an old-time hockey type of feel.
These jerseys are simply phenomenal and worth the price of admission by themselves. The Bruins look great in them, but more importantly, they bring the best out of them. They’re 2-0-1 when dawning their Winter Classic threads with the lone loss coming in overtime against the Canadiens.
The Bruins haven’t had a good looking third uniform in quite a while. Adopting these throwbacks as their alternates wouldn’t be a bad thing going forward.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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