For a stylish fellow like David Pastrnak, a hat trick against the Canadiens is appropriate wear for all seasons. It suited him well on Wednesday.
The ever-voguish Bruin scored his 39th, 40th and 41st goals of the season, powering the Bruins to a 4-1 win over their old rivals.
With his second hat trick against the Habs this season, Pasta again surged into the NHL goal lead.
In a game with plenty of chippiness that was strongly tilted toward the Black and Gold, Pastrnak became the first Bruin to score 40 goals in 17 seasons, since Glen Murray’s 44 in 2002-03.
His first goal, which put Boston ahead for good 6:59 in and came off a gorgeous play from Brad Marchand, established a career high. Pastrnak put the Bruins up by a pair 4:16 into the second, and the hats flew at 15:49 of that period. He even helped the ice crew clean them up with a few careful swipes of his stick.
Tuukka Rask, with the best save percentage (.929 coming in) of any goalie with more than 30 starts, made 28 saves on 29 shots. The Bruins put 37 pucks on Carey Price before he departed in the final minutes.
Patrice Bergeron’s empty-netter finished the job with 20 seconds left, and gave Marchand his third assist.
Boston (35-11-12), dropping Montreal for the third time in four meetings, wouldn’t see them again until the playoffs. It doesn’t look like the visitors (27-25-7) will get there, particularly after the news that captain Shea Weber will miss the rest of the regular season with a serious ankle sprain.
■ Pastrnak had a four-game goal drought entering Wednesday. That streak is no longer. He potted his 39th of the year at 6:59 off a gorgeous play by Brad Marchand, who deserves some shine on this Pasta-heavy night.
■ To make it 1-0, Marchand entered the zone after collecting a fat Jonathan Drouin giveaway, and put on a puck control clinic. He slipped through defenseman Jeff Petry (who had a brutal night) with a toe drag. He lowered his shoulder into Petry and shielded the biscuit from him and his partner, Brett Kulak. Out of options, Petry draped himself on the Bruins winger. With a delayed call coming, Marchand extended his reach and slipped a pass to Pastrnak, who separated from a backchecking Drouin. Worth a watch, if the highlight should appear on your social media feed.
■ Pastrnak and Sean Kuraly teamed up for the 2-0 goal, harassing Petry into a turnover in front of Tuukka Rask and breaking the other way. Kuraly, not known for his hands, expertly fed Pastrnak a lead pass. No. 88 faked Carey Price and roofed it.
■ Petry was around to watch the hats fly, too. With the Bruins on a 4 on 3 power play, Petry passed a clearing attempt to Pastrnak, who slammed it into an empty net at 15:45 of the second.
■ He now owns the 32nd 40-goal season in Bruins history, and the first since Glen Murray (44) in 2002-03. With 24 games left, he should have the first 50-goal year since Cam Neely in ‘93-94. Can he hit 60? Not likely, unless he delivers a few more shipments of hats. But 50 is no minor accomplishment. Five Bruins — Phil Esposito, John Bucyk, Rick Middleton, Ken Hodge and Neely — have done it.
■ More Pasta helpings: he has 14 goals in 19 career games against the Habs. According to Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player with two hat tricks vs. the Canadiens in one season since Gordie Howe in 1951-52 (he had one in Montreal on Dec. 1). He is the first Bruin with four hat tricks in a season since Phil Esposito in 1974-75.
■ And there’s this: Only four times in the last 30 years has a player scored more game-opening goals than Pastrnak (14): Adam Graves (Rangers, 1993-94), Pavel Bure (Panthers, 1999-2000), each with 15, and Brett Hull, who scored 16 for the Blues in ‘91-92 and 19 in ‘90-91.
■ Minutes after Pastrnak’s first goal, Tuukka Rask made a remarkable save, exploding cross-crease to deny Nick Cousins at the doorstep. Cousins was all alone for a would-be tap-in after Nick Suzuki separated from John Moore behind the goal. The netminder stopped 18 of 19 shots through 40 minutes, as the Bruins peppered Price with 26 pucks.
■ Before going down, 3-1, Montreal’s only extended push came with about five minutes left in the first. On their best chance, down by one goal, Max Domi whiffed on a bouncing puck at the doorstep. He also hit the pipe in the second period.
■ The Habs made it 2-1 less than a minute after Pastrnak’s second, on a Marco Scandella wrister from the point that pinballed past Rask at 4:52 of the middle period. But they were not sharp with the puck. The Bruins were a step ahead.
■ Tempers flared early and often. Marchand and Petry had an extended battle near the end of the first. After Petry ran Marchand into the end boards, there was stick-grabbing, slashes and chops both ways before the two dropped gloves and wrestled to the ground. They earned roughing minors. Marchand, slightly the aggressor, was called for a slash, giving the Canadiens a power play (they were 0-2 on the man-up through 40 minutes).
■ After Danton Heinen was called for a slash, Zdeno Chara and Brendan Gallagher, who is a foot shorter, were also served after exchanging cross-checks.
■ The Bruins’ 4 on 3 power play, which produced Pastrnak’s hat trick, came after Chris Wagner and Drouin got in a shoving match and Joel Armia was tagged for roughing Torey Krug.
■ Kuraly was shaken up near the end of the second period, and departed for the dressing room, but returned to start the third.