ANAHEIM — The Black and Gold traveling road show rolled through another California town, giving those with New England ties something to holler about.
David Pastrnak, rocketing up the goal-scoring list, produced a hat trick Sunday in a 7-1 win. A healthy contingent of Bruins fans, filling a Honda Center that has been lightly occupied of late, threw a few dozen hats on the ice after Pastrnak overmatched Anaheim netminder John Gibson on a breakaway.
“He’s like an artist, the different ways he scores,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “Everyone talks about the one-timers, but he scores off his front foot, his back foot, backhands, fakes. I would have broken my ankles if I was on the net for that breakaway one.”
To tell it another way: When was the last time a Brad Marchand goal announcement wasn’t vociferously booed in a visiting rink?
The Bruins (32-4-4), in extending their point streak to 14 games (11-0-3), had a 4-1 lead through two periods on the backs of Czechs. Montgomery, shuffling his lines for balance, dropped Pastrnak (3-1–4) to play with David Krejci (1-2–3) and Pavel Zacha (0-2–2). That worked.
Only Connor McDavid (33) has more goals this year than Pastrnak (32). He had seven on this three-game trip, 32 in 40 games, and six consecutive 30-goal seasons. The other Bruins with at least six: Phil Esposito and Rick Middleton (eight each), Johnny Bucyk (seven), Cam Neely, Peter McNab, and Patrice Bergeron (six).
Pastrnak has 13 hat tricks in nine seasons. The only Bruins with more hat tricks are Esposito (26) and Neely (14).
Entering the third, he was also in range of his second career four-goal game. The other one came in a Columbus Day matinee on Oct. 14, 2019, against the Ducks. Hampus Lindholm, a current teammate, was one of the defensemen he victimized that day.
“It’s fun to have him on my side finally,” Lindholm said.
No matter the record of the opponents, three road games in four nights on the West Coast is a tough haul. The Ducks (12-25-4) were the weakest of the California teams, a list that included the lottery-bound Sharks and playoff-contending Kings.
One of the Ducks’ best road games of the year was in Boston, a 2-1 shootout loss Oct. 20. At home, they have beaten such playoff contenders as Seattle, Toronto, Carolina, and Dallas, the latter of which began the two-game winning streak they took into Sunday.
To keep it going, coach Dallas Eakins said before puck drop, they have to “play a perfect game.” They did not.
After taking the ice to a loud ovation and “Let’s Go Bruins” chants, the visitors took the lead at 3:41 of the first and doubled it at 9:46 with the same line on the ice. Pastrnak, circling high in the zone, threw it to an open corner and drifted into a shooting area. Krejci circled the net and delivered a no-look backhand feed to Pastrnak, who unleashed a rocket while gliding backward in the right circle.
“It’ll never get old, scoring goals in the best league in the world,” Pastrnak said. “I don’t take it for granted.
It was also a fine example of Montgomery’s offensive-zone principles at work. To borrow a line from baseball great Wee Willie Keeler, put the puck where they ain’t.
Pastrnak returned the favor to Krejci six minutes later, feeding him at the top of the crease for a quick finish. Zacha, remaining in his mode of making smart supporting plays, earned secondary assists on both early goals.
At 11:56 of the second, Pastrnak finished a second-chance play on the man-advantage, slipping a shot through traffic and under Gibson’s pads. He made it 4-1 on a clean breakaway from center ice, scooting free of lost-in-coverage ex-Bruin Urho Vaakanainen and getting Gibson (35 saves) to bite on a fake shot before sticking it upstairs.
“He just finds a way to score,” Krejci said of Pastrnak. “He’s got so many weapons. Just one of those guys … They don’t come around too often.”
The Bruins did get a bit loose in their own defensive zone, letting Trevor Zegras step into a one-timer and make it 2-1 at 16:55 of the first. They weren’t going to let Zegras get away with everything, though.
The young Ducks star touched off a scrum after scoring by nodding at Trent Frederic and lobbing a few expletives his way as he skated to the bench. Teammates stepped in front of Zegras, and after some pleasantries, Brad Marchand and Anaheim’s Max Comtois headed to the box.
Anaheim poked the bear.
“Yeah, for sure,” Pastrnak said. “You can’t do that after a goal. You have to have some certain respect. You can’t score a goal and yell at the opponent, no matter what happened in the sequence before.
“It hyped everyone up. We just wanted to shove it in their face … if that’s nice to say.”
After outshooting the Ducks, 12-6, in the first, the Bruins leaned on Jeremy Swayman a little more in the second. The netminder (28 saves) got his pads in front of rebounds and redirects, and stopped Troy Terry on a third-period two-on-one. The Bruins outshot the Ducks, 42-29.
Marchand made it 5-1 at 6:20 of the third by cleaning up a mess that saw Gibson swimming out of his crease.
Lindholm got in on the action at 11:26, rolling down the left wing and firing from a sharp angle.
“I was shooting to score,” said Lindholm, adding that he wants to do more of that.
The Bruins weren’t done. Charlie Coyle faked Gibson out of his skates and tucked home the extra point with 3:50 left.
The Bruins, who were set to fly home late Sunday, will rest before hosting the Kraken (Thursday) and Maple Leafs (Saturday). To the victors went the spoils (In-N-Out burgers postgame, and two days off).
“Unbelievable trip for us,” Pastrnak said. “Let’s go home now.”