The Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak said he’s awake after his Game 4 performance.
In 26 career games against the Maple Leafs, including the playoffs, Pastrnak has posted 17 goals and 17 assists. He went off in the seven-game series a season ago, but started out this year’s Eastern quarterfinal sluggish.
Maybe some of that was due to recovery from his thumb injury that sidelined him for 16 games, or the need for some sort of a change, but he was held off the scoreboard for three games.
In Game 4, Pastrnak scored twice, including the game-winner, to tie the series and bring it back to Boston tonight for Game 5 at 2-2.
“It’s big for me,” he said. “I feel relieved and I’m awake.”
He skated with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk while Danton Heinen was boosted to the top line, and whether that was what brought Pastrnak back to life or not, the results spoke for themselves.
“I think it sparked everybody and gave them a little bit of a different look,” he said. “It was fun. I’ve played with Krejci a lot, so I know what to expect and we all know that Heinen plays great with those guys. So it was good for us.”
Pastrnak’s first goal came on a brief return with Brad Marchand, who fed him the puck behind the defense for a go-ahead goal. Later, he scored on the power play.
His spark helped the second line create chances all game, and Krejci will certainly take any opportunity to play with the 22-year-old.
“It’s always nice to play with him,” said Krejci. “He had a big game, he was big for our team. Got a big two goals. Nice to see him get the puck in the net. His confidence is so high, it was just a matter of time before he was going to put it in the net. Those two goals, but he played great all 60 minutes. It’s nice for the team to have him play the way he played.”
If Pastrnak is truly awake now for the rest of the series, it’ll just make life all the harder on the Leafs. The series is now a best 2-out-of-3 with the Bruins holding home ice advantage with the chance to play two more games at the Garden.
Pastrnak has been a Leaf killer in the past. If that side of him is back for good, the Bruins shouldn’t have too much scoring, at least. If he stays with Krejci or is bumped back up with Marchand or Patrice Bergeron remains to be seen, and given the way the Bruins have juggled their lines all season, it could be back and forth.
With power-play goals in all four games so far, the Bruins’ extra man unit has come alive as well, and Pastrnak was a contributor in Toronto. His continued success — and potential dominance — is a game-changer in the series.
“(Scoring) is how I help the team the most, so I was focusing and putting pressure on myself to help the team this way,” said Pastrnak. “.... I had great looks and just tough playing in the best league. It’s fun when you start playing good. It’s fun.”