David Pastrnak’s puck luck took a turn for the worse
TORONTO — David Pastrnak had the kind of shift in puck luck that can turn a man existential.
It was jus two days ago that he had the kind of night when it felt like anything he fired at the net would find its way in.
Hishat trick and 6-point night fueled the Bruins’ 7-3 win over the Maple Leafs and helped give them a 2-0 series lead in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff matchup.
But in the Bruins’ 4-2 loss to the Leafs in Game 3 on Monday, Pastrnak got an excruciatingly cruel glimpse of how the gods balance things out.
With the Bruins in need of an equalizer going into the third period, Pastrnak couldn’t buy a break.
A power play 26 seconds into the period seemed like the perfect setup for a Bruins team that had been efficient (5 of 10) with a man-advantage in the series.
Pastrnak got a golden look all alone at the left side of the net. When he got the feed from Rick Nash, Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen was practically prone, trying to speed across the pipes.
All Pastrnak had to do was punch it in. Instead, his wrist shot caught the near goal post.
It didn’t take long for another prime look to fall into Pastrnak’s lap. On the same power play, Patrice Bergeron won a faceoff before Brad Marchand took off with the puck, and quickly found Pastrnak darting at the net from the right side all by himself.
Pastrnak had a point-blank look and tried to sneak a snap shot into the top corner, but the Toronto goalie just barely got his glove on it to make the save.
Yet Pastrnak’s third miss was the most crushing. So much net and somehow Andersen got a stick on what was probably Pastrnak’s cleanest look of the night.
The Bruins were in desperate need of a score, down 4-2 with 2:22 left. David Krejci found Pastrnak, who was staring at a practically wide-open net with Andersen out of position. But somehow Andersen managed to stretch his stick out and keep the puck from finding the net.
All Pastrnak could do was drop to the ice.
“It’s life,” he said. You see that it happens in your life as well. One day you have a great day, the next, absolutely [crappy] day. So it happens, you know?”
After exploding for a historic performance in Game 2, Pastrnak came up empty on all three of his looks in Game 3. Some of the saves that stopped him from getting on the scoreboard were mind-boggling.
“I’ve seen it all season, goalies make those saves,” he said. “That’s why they play in the NHL. I had some good luck the first couple of games and no luck today. So next game, we go again from zero.”
Coming in, the Maple Leafs knew they would have to find an answer for a Bruins’ top line that had dominated them in the first two games to the tune of a combined 20 points.
The Leafs were able to freeze out Pastrnak, Bergeron, and Marchand to pick up their first win of the series.
“I thought our top line was fine for the most part,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Just didn’t finish. Pasta got robbed about three, four times. [Andersen] made head-scratching saves at the end. Now some of it is when you’re pressing, but still at the end of the day they can be better.
“They had a tougher matchup tonight and [the Maple Leafs] were determined to keep them off the scoresheet and they did. We’re not surprised by that.
“They’re a very good team, they’re good at home, it didn’t go their way in Boston. Well-documented, they didn’t defend well enough and they put an onus on that. Having said that, I thought we generated enough offense to win. That was not the problem for us.”
The Leafs made it a point to make the Bruins top-liners uncomfortable, delivering 38 hits in Game 3.
“I think we’ve got to win a few more puck battles,” Marchand said. “Once they get in the middle of the ice, they’re dangerous. They made a nice play, he made a nice shot, he’s a great player. They’re going to make plays.”
“The first couple games we had some bounces go our way. Tonight we didn’t. So that’s hockey. It’s not going to go your way every night, but hopefully we get a few more next game.”
The Bruins were more than happy to turn the page. And how Pastrnak might bounce back for Game 4 on Thursday was the least of their concerns.
“He’s the type of guy that is going to want it even more next game,” Bergeron said. “That’s the approach we need to have.”