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  • What we learned: David Pastrnak delivers a needed game-winner

    Tim Rosenthal February 20, 2022

    The Boston Bruins needed overtime to grind out a win over the lowly Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

    David Pastrnak needed to produce following one of the worst outings of the season Thursday night in Long Island. Amid another somewhat shaky performance, Pastrnak dug deep to help his team out of an offensive rut.

    Pastrnak and the Bruins didn’t make things easy on themselves. The Sens responded each time the Bruins lit the lamp with Tim Stutzle and former Bruin Nick Holden notching separate equalizers minutes after Jake DeBrusk’s and Brandon Carlo’s markers.

    In the end, Pastrnak and the Bruins found a way during the 3-on-3 extra session. The one-time Rocket Richard winner nearly let things get away from him on a blocked shot moments before the game-winning sequence. But Pastrnak recovered and put himself in position to fire his patented one-timer from the left faceoff dot.

    Taylor Hall put the puck on Pastrnak’s stick with a stellar feed. Pastrnak promptly fired his blast past Anton Forsberg, capping off Boston’s 3-2 victory.


    “Every player wants to score in overtime,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Pastrnak’s OT clincher. “I think he needed that, to be honest with you.”

    “It’s been a little dry lately, so obviously it was a nice goal,” Pastrnak said after snapping his four-game goal drought. “It was a great win for us and a great way to end the road trip. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the two points.”

    Given his career pattern, Pastrnak tends to go on a significant offensive run once he snaps any pointless streaks. The Bruins would like to see that trend continue heading into Monday’s tilt with the high-octane Colorado Avalanche.

    Here’s what else we learned after the Bruins tallied points in three of four games during their recent road trip.

    Boston’s D showcased some snarl

    Cassidy sounded off on an array of topics during his pregame hybrid media availability both in-person and via Zoom. One particular hot button topic focused on the Bruins’ defensemen becoming “too nice” in their demeanors.

    “We have a lot of nice guys on our team,” Cassidy said. “We need to be more like pricks, to be honest with you.”

    The days of bench-clearing brawls and jumping over the glass to attack fans have long passed. The game has transitioned from daily occurrences of fight nights to a more skilled on-ice product.

    Yet, every team still needs some physical edge within their system. At times, the Bruins shied away from engaging in heated moments. The events led to top players like Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy and Patrice Bergeron having to defend for themselves whenever the opposition takes liberties.

    Thursday’s outing in Long Island provided a tipping point. The Bruins hardly looked engaged in battle in the second and third periods.

    While Saturday wasn’t exactly a turning point in becoming more “prick-like,” Boston’s D displayed some snarl when the time came, be it in front of their cage or in Connor Clifton’s willingness to take center stage in a middle of a scrum following a clean hit on Sens forward Parker Kelly.

    “I think you’ve seen it from us before. In the games where they do get physical, we don’t back down by any means,” Carlo said. “There’s a nastiness that can become important in those net areas. It’s hard to say. There’s going to be situations where it’s the right play and situations where you don’t want to be taking too many penalties with the time and score. I feel like we’re working very hard in front of the net.”

    Indeed, Carlo and company have plenty of defensive concerns to address. The Sens established extended zone time for over a minute on a pair of occasions during Saturday’s tilt. The Bruins kept their scoring chances in the perimeter, allowing Jeremy Swayman (29 saves) to track the puck cleanly. Clearly, they won’t get away with enduring long defensive shifts against the NHL’s elite squads.

    But Cassidy witnessed a response from Boston’s D core, with Carlo also contributing offensively after crashing the net to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead in the third. Now they’ll need consistency and more nastiness from the blue-line.

    “If he wants us to cross-check some people in the teeth, then maybe we need to start doing that,” Carlo added.

    Jack Studnicka is making his case for a full-time role

    The Bruins altered their bottom-six ahead of Saturday, inserting Jack Studnicka in a third-line center role with Erik Haula and Nick Foligno and bumping DeBrusk down to the fourth line with Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar.

    Amid a long shift, DeBrusk returned to the scoresheet following a crafty second-period tally after batting the puck out of mid-air. Studnicka began sequence up after winning a puck battle along the walls against a pair of Ottawa defenders.

    That tap pass showcased Studnicka’s growth over the past year. His strength-based off-season training regime allowed his body to absorb the grind of an NHL game much more fluidly. Studnicka’s newfound strength didn’t hinder his offensive skillset. Instead, it’s provided a complimentary trait to becoming a well-rounded NHL player.

    “He’s around the puck and he’s getting it to the right spots,” Cassidy said of Studnicka. “It’s up for him then to get comfortable in the league and make the necessary plays that he should make if he wants to be a consistent NHL player.”

    Studnicka finally has an assist to complement his recent string of solid outings, primarily as the team’s third-line center. Surely, they’ll want more offensive production out of Studnicka, but the 2017 second-round pick has established building blocks toward finally becoming a regular contributor in Boston.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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