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  • Takeaways: Linus Ullmark, Bruins PK and David Pastrnak shine in crunch time

    Tim Rosenthal April 3, 2024

    The details and the effort remained solid throughout Tuesday’s 60-minute tilt. But the positive results evaded the Boston Bruins against a top-tier netminder in Jusse Saros and the rest of the resurging Nashville Predators.

    Until the third.

    Jim Montgomery’s squad encountered a few hiccups, and watched Justin Brazeau exit with an upper-body injury on Tuesday. Linus Ullmark matched Saros stride for stride as the Bruins tried to find their scoring touch. Yet, they never deviated from their tight-checking and defensive structure before pouncing in the third. 

    The Bruins grabbed the lead at 13:18 of the final frame on Charlie Coyle’s shorthanded tally. Ullmark began the sequence with a high-glass outlet to Marchand, who quickly sprung Coyle on a breakaway bid.

    David Pastrnak spearheaded Boston’s insurance tallies, setting up Pavel Zacha during an end-to-end rush in a tic-tac-goal sequence with Danton Heinen before adding his empty-netter to cap off Boston’s 3-0 victory.

    Here’s what we learned from a well-rounded after the Bruins extended their Atlantic Division lead to four points over the second-place Panthers.

    Ullmark continues his productive post-deadline run.

    Even with his no-trade clause embedded into his contract, Ullmark had heard more than his share of rumors ahead of the trade deadline. Whether there was any truth to the reports of Ullmark nixing a potential trade, a passionate Hub fanbase should feel thankful that he stayed put following his recent string of performances.

    Ullmark notched victories in four of his six starts since the trade deadline. Over that stretch, he’s allowed nine goals on 188 shots, accounting for an impressive .952 save percentage.

    While Ullmark encountered some close calls, including Roman Josi hitting iron in the second, the Swede remained alert and square to the puck in his 31-save outing. His top stop came in the opening moments of the third when he met Ryan O’Reilly at the doorstep on arguably Nashville’s best scoring chance.


    “Every game is a new challenge,” Ullmark told NESN’s Adam Pellerin. “It doesn’t matter what you did last game or the game prior. It’s all about looking forward, keep performing, focus on the process and not get to carried away with the result. I think I’ve been doing well in that department. I have a lot of confidence in the fellas in the way we all feed off each other.”

    Ullmark extended Boston’s shutout streak in Nashville to an eye-opening 181:14. A week after Jeremy Swayman recorded his first career NHL assist on Trent Frederic’s third-period equalizer in Florida, Ullmark provided a helping hand of his own during a pivotal moment.

    Boston’s penalty kill shined again in crunch time.

    Ullmark faced a healthy workload during 5v5 play. But he hardly felt taxed during Nashville’s four opportunities with the man advantage.

    After killing a four-minute 4-on-3 overtime sequence in Washington Saturday, Boston’s top-tier penalty kill picked up where they left off with a perfect 4-for-4 outing in the ‘Music City.’ 

    The Bruins prevented the Preds from gaining traction in front of the net, allowing just three power play shots on Ullmark. Amid another tepid performance from the other half of their special teams, Boston’s opportunistic PK delivered timely shot blocks and clearing attempts and generated quality scoring chances, including a Charlie McAvoy breakaway bid in the first.

    Come crunch time, Ullmark, Marchand and Coyle broke through to put the Bruins in the proverbial driver’s seat.

    “What a great play by our captain and a great goal by Charlie,” Montgomery said during his postgame interview with NESN’s Andy Brickley. “After that, I thought we played with a lot of poise. I thought we were real clean coming out of our own end. I liked our second and third effort and how we put the game away.”

    An assertive Pastrnak entered takeover mode.

    He’s produced at a point-per-game pace over his 668 regular season and 79 postseason tilts. But that hasn’t prevented the numerous head-scratching takes seen on social media and heard on the “Everybody Sucks” afternoon drivetime show on 98.5.

    Some critiques remain warranted, especially given his high turnover rate in the attacking end. But Pastrnak often makes up for any blunder with his high hockey I.Q. and puck-tracking traits.

    Over the last week, Pastrnak’s offensive creativity extended into the checking game. During Boston’s trip through Florida, Pastrnak delivered a reverse hit on Matthew Tkachuk, leading to Charlie McAvoy’s first-period blast. A night later, he forced an attacking zone turnover on a strong forecheck behind the net ahead of Heinen’s marker in Tampa.

    Ironically, Pastrnak didn’t secure a point in either of those sequences. But Pastrnak’s 200-foot-assertiveness on Boston’s second tally found its way to the scoresheet.

    After gaining possession in the defensive end, Pastrnak generated speed through the neutral zone and established a setup along the goal line while patiently waiting for an outlet. As he continued his track toward the goal line, Pastrnak found Heinen to ultimately set Zacha up for his 19th goal of the season.

    “It doesn’t matter who your gifted offensive players are. You’re gonna give them a little more leeway because the risk-reward is a lot of times worth it,” Montgomery said of Pastrnak following Monday’s practice in Brighton. “When Pasta decides to dig in physically like we saw in the Florida game, not only is he a great offensive player [but he] becomes a complete player that can dominate in a lot of fashions.”

    Pastrnak didn’t need to be overly physical in Nashville. But his solid effort in all three zones and timely offensive output allowed him to put the finishing touches on Boston’s 44th win.

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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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