The Boston Bruins already hold the upper hand in their first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals, but things are tilting even more heavily toward the Black and Gold at this point. That’s because Boston’s top game-breaker David Pastrnak has finally snapped out of his goal-scoring “doldrums” with a power play strike and two points in Boston’s 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Friday night’s Game 4 at TD Garden.
It was really only a matter of time as Pastrnak had been generating higher output of shots on net (25 shots on net, including nine shot all by himself in Game 3) and scoring chances as the series has worn on. And it was most needed on a power play that had been just okay headed into Game 4, but instead exploded for three PP goals in Game 4 with Pastrnak shot attempts from the face-off circle keying two of the three special teams scores.
“I just tried to keep shooting. Last game I had lots of good opportunities to score. Sometimes the goalie makes a great save, or I rushed it a little bit,” said Pastrnak. “It’s always a good sign when you’re getting a lot of chances, but sometimes it’s frustrating when it doesn’t go in. I’m going to stay with it. Our main focus is to keep getting shots on net.”
Pastrnak was mobbed by his teammates afterward showing just popular he is in the Boston Bruins dressing room, and just how badly the B’s know they’ll need No. 88 at full scoring power for a long playoff run.
As Bruce Cassidy said following the game, “he’s a sniper” and that’s exactly the kind of weapon that could equalize any playoff series moving forward for the Black and Gold.
“He’s worked hard, and he’s gotten himself in position to shoot the puck,” said Cassidy. “We design plays to get him his shot, because he can score goals. We have a number of different looks. You watch practice, you see them. At the end of the day, good for him. He’s a sniper, and as you said, maybe this gets him feeling better about his shot. He’s still making plays, playing hard.
“Eventually you get those looks. He’s too good of a scorer. They’ll go in, and they did. He’s worked hard. He’s gotten himself in position to shoot the puck. I think he played well the other night [in Game 3]. He had 16 or 18 attempts. The puck just didn’t go in for him. There’s some doubt sometimes. When am I going to get my next one? I think that goes through scorers’ heads. But I didn’t see any frustration with Pasta. He just stuck with it and got rewarded.”
Truth be told, it did look like Pastrnak was a tad frustrated or that he’d lost a little confidence in the one-timer after not seeing one light the lamp for a little while. For a guy that’s had injuries impact his performance in each of the last two playoff runs for the Boston Bruins, a great deal is expected out of the 24-year-old after a pedestrian 2021 regular season by his lofty standards.
Pastrnak ended the regular campaign with one goals in six games during the month of May prior to not scoring a goal in the first three games of the series against the Capitals. So as Boston’s best goal scorer he was surely feeling the pressure to score.
But Pastrnak has also shown that he’s capable of scoring in bunches or taking over a playoff series if he truly starts feeling it, and that’s something Boston is counting on after watching their sniper finally go off during these playoffs in Boston’s important Game 4 win vs. Washington.
It’s a scary thought for the rest of the playoff field if Pastrnak really dials it up offensively after his Game 4 breakthrough, so that’s something to watch as the Bruins look to bounce Washington from the playoffs on Sunday night.