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  • An ailing David Pastrnak led by example and other Bruins-Leafs takeaways

    Tim Rosenthal April 7, 2023

    The Boston Bruins avoided an injury scare when Charlie McAvoy exited Thursday’s tilt with the Toronto Maple Leafs after sustaining an upper-body ailment during his collision with Patrice Bergeron in the second period.

    McAvoy wasn’t the only ailing Bruin. But before Jim Montgomery provided a favorable prognosis for McAvoy, he watched one of his star wingers persevere through illness.

    A stomach virus didn’t prevent David Pastrnak from missing Thursday’s tilt against their Original Six rivals. And as the adrenaline kicked in, Pastrnak once again shined in the clutch, delivering the overtime winner in Boston’s 2-1 victory.

    The Bruins overcame McAvoy’s loss and a 1-0 deficit to the Maple Leafs on Sam Lafferty’s doorstep tally at 11:34 of the middle stanza.

    Charlie Coyle’s third-period equalizer on the heels of a leaping keep in at the blue line from Brandon Carlo ultimately set Pastrnak up for his overtime marker.

    Indeed, the Bruins’ quest for history continues. Here’s what we learned from their 61st win of the season.

    Pastrnak didn’t hold back despite his illness.

    Pastrnak’s stomach virus didn’t prevent him from delivering a costly turnover leading directly to Lafferty’s 12th goal of the season.

    Nor did it halt him from delivering his trademark one-timer from the left faceoff dot in overtime.

    For the frequent listeners of 98.5 The Sports Hub’s afternoon program and its host Michael Felger, the latter likely outweighs the former. But for all the hot takes shared on the “Everybody Sucks” drivetime show, Pastrnak’s importance to this record-breaking Bruins club isn’t up for debate.

    There wasn’t anything stopping Pastrnak from delivering the game-winner on Thursday. Not an illness, not an earlier turnover, not naysayers, and not his coach.

    “No,” Montgomery said. “He felt he could play, so I’m going to play him.”

    “There was no doubt,” Pastrnak said. “You have leaders like Bergy, and you learn from them all [your] life. So there’s not really many things that can stop you, you know?”


    Of course, Pastrnak referenced Bergeron and his leadership traits. The Boston captain encountered quite the history of playing through pain himself, including playing with a punctured lung and broken ribs during Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks.

    In sickness, Pastrnak found motivation through Bergeron and the rest of his supportive teammates. In turn, they were ever happy to heap more praise toward his direction.

    “He has a knack to find the way…to get the big goal and to rise up in situations like that,” Bergeron said of Pastrnak. “Tonight, he wasn’t feeling well. But kudos to him for stepping up and battling through.”

    “This group is amazing,” Pastrnak added. “I felt like I could still help, but the guys did an amazing job, and that motivated me too. So that was fun today, and a big thanks to [my teammates].”

    “Nothing serious” with McAvoy

    A handful of battle-tested Bruins took advantage of the load-management portion of their season.

    After Thursday, Montgomery may provide McAvoy with another extended break.

    Still, the Bruins avoided a scare after McAvoy left midway through the second period following his collision with Bergeron during a Toronto chance in transition. The former Boston University Terrier sustained an upper-body injury, but Boston’s bench boss delivered a positive development during his postgame press conference.

    “We held him back just for precautionary reasons,” Montgomery said. “We don’t think it’s anything serious.”

    With history in sight, the Bruins don’t have to rush McAvoy back.

    Boston’s depth continues to thrive as a few marquee players enter a rest and recovery period. They’ll likely receive some reinforcements within the next couple of weeks, including Taylor Hall, who missed the last month and a half with a lower-body injury.

    With Hall on the mend, Nick Foligno’s progression and Derek Forbort skating on his own, the Bruins could finally have a healthy complement of players to work with — assuming David Krejci returns from his nagging lower-body ailment — within the next month.

    The Bruins are embracing the journey to the record book

    Before now, whenever the media approached the Bruins with questions surrounding the record-breaking pace, the locker room and Montgomery wouldn’t provide too much depth to the topic.

    But the B’s couldn’t ignore the topic entirely. Especially as they inched closer toward the wins and points record(s).

    Thursday’s overtime win puts the Bruins one win away from matching the 1995-96 Red Wings and 2018-19 Lightning.

    Even with their playoff positions already secured, the Bruins had to earn every inch of ice available during a playoff-like tilt against the Leafs. But Thursday’s tight-checking tilt only suits them well for the grind ahead.

    “It’s not always pretty. It’s not always perfect,” Coyle said. “But we find a way to do it and forced overtime and we make them pay there. It’s a result that we’ll definitely take. It’s a rough and tough game there, and we embrace those challenges.”

    Another challenge comes Saturday when the Bruins host the New Jersey Devils in their first chance to tie the wins record.

    Unlike their final three opponents — the Flyers, Capitals and Canadiens — the Devils still have a chance to improve their playoff positioning as they sit one point behind the Hurricanes for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. That will only motivate the Bruins further during their final postseason preparations.

    “We try to set up some goals to get ready for playoffs,” Pastrnak said. “When you’re fighting for playoff [positioning] it’s a little different. But since we’ve clinched, a lot of players and even coaches…they haven’t been in this spot for so long. We obviously clinched, and sometimes it’s hard to find motivation against teams who aren’t in the playoffs. But year, we know about it. And we’re looking for anything to help us prepare for the playoffs.”

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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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