A point-blank, behind-the-back shot couldn’t do it. Neither could a slap shot from distance. Brad Marchand even gave up a clear look at an empty net to try to get David Pastrnak to the elusive goal No. 50.
But he couldn’t quite get there.
Still, Thursday night’s 4-2 win over Montreal was not without milestones for Pastrnak, whose second-period goal helped him reach a single-season career high.
The ninth-year veteran scored his 49th goal of the season 2:36 into the second frame, eclipsing his previous single-season record of 48, set in 2017-18.
Pastrnak added an assist in the third period to bring his line to 49-46—95 — tied for single-season high in points — with 11 games remaining in the regular season.
“His ceiling is higher than the point total now,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “I wouldn’t be surprised for him to eclipse it year after year.”
The league-leading Bruins (55-11-5) are poised to make a run in the postseason, and Pastrnak, who has 15 points in his last 11 games, is setting the pace.
“What matters most is that he’s a brilliant player who’s incredibly creative, and he’s an incredible teammate, so we’re very lucky to have him,” Montgomery said.
Pastrnak arrived in Boston as a bright-eyed 18-year-old from Havirov, Czechia, and quickly became the future of the franchise. After signing the richest deal in Bruins’ history on March 2 — an eight-year, $90 million contract extension — Pastrnak is officially in it for the long haul.
“Our fans are lucky to get to watch him for another eight years,” Montgomery said.
Pastrnak found the net for No. 49 on a wrister from the left circle. He received the puck from Tyler Bertuzzi, taking a quick hesitation before ripping a shot past Montreal goaltender Jake Allen to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead.
“That’s hard to process all that within a second and a half,” Montgomery said. “But he makes it look like it’s five seconds. That’s how slow it is in his brain. And that’s why he’s elite.”
The Bruins spent the remainder of the game feeding Pastrnak to try to get him to 50, but the Habs kept him on tight lockdown.
With Allen pulled as time wound down, Marchand got a clear look at the Canadiens’ empty net, but he instead looked for Pastrnak.
“That’s Marshy,” Pastrnak said. “It’s not easy — you have a couple of seconds to make decisions out there, and he’s always aware of situations like this.”
Credited with the secondary assist on the Bruins’ fourth goal of the day — a backhanded flick from David Krejci late in the third period — the winger reached 95 points on the season, tied for his career-high in points in a single season.
Pastrnak came close to goal No. 50 with 6:46 to go in the second period, dragging a point-blank shot directly into Allen’s leg pad. He nearly scored again 21 minutes later, firing a long-distance slap shot into Allen’s glove late in the third period.
But neither did the trick.
Should he reach the 50-goal milestone, Pastrnak would join an elite club. Only five Bruins — Phil Esposito, Cam Neely, Rick Middleton, Johnny Bucyk, and Ken Hodge — have done it before.
A first-class group to take inspiration from — Pastrnak included.
“It’s one of those things where you just try to take notes from him,” DeBrusk said. “He’s probably the best at knowing where to go to score goals in this league — or one of them if not top three. And you just try to take notes, honestly, day to day and see how he does it.”
Emma Healy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on TWitter @_EmmaHealy_.