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Monday, December 5, 2016

David Pastrnak is Here to Save Us All from Another Season of Bruins Mediocrity

All night at TD Garden, the Bruins (15-10-1) couldn't shake the Panthers (12-11-3). Three different times Boston scored to take a temporary one-goal lead but each time Florida answered with a tying goal. Luckily for the B's and their fans, they employ David Pastrnak who you may have heard has morphed into one of the best goal-scorers in the NHL (see: his overtime goal that gave Boston a thrilling 4-3 win). Pasta had scored earlier in the contest to make it 2-1 and he potted the game-winner at 1:23 of overtime that will undoubtedly be in every highlight reel for awhile (not just hockey).

It was a big two points for the Bruins since the Panthers entered in a bit of a tailspin (after surprisingly firing head coach Gerard Gallant last weekend and replacing him with GM Tom Rowe). Moreover, with Roberto Luongo (9-8-1) in between the pipes for Florida, Boston had to take advantage of the same bozo from the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals vs. Vancouver. In 38 career games against the Bruins, Luongo fell to 15-17-1. Florida won the Atlantic Division last season but Boston still owns them (10-1-0 in their last 11 games in Boston and 15-2-1 in their last 18 games overall) dating back several years now.

After missing six games with a lower-body injury Bruins captain Zdeno Chara returned with a team-high 23:31 time on ice. There was plenty of action in the first period even though it looked like it would end 0-0. Former BC star Michael Matheson had a shorthanded bid stopped by Tuukka Rask (27 saves; 14-4-1). On the other end, Luongo robbed Ryan Spooner (the subject of trade rumors since he hasn't played well so far this season) with a ridiculous glove save. David Backes' one-timer from the doorstep hit Luongo in the chest and rookie Anton Blidh nearly nabbed his first NHL goal when he redirected Adam McQuaid's slap pass just wide. PC's Tim Schaller gave the B's a 1-0 lead at 18:32 (with his 4th goal of the season) when he one-timed a pass from David Krejci (who was stationed behind Florida's net).

The ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr tied it at 9:44 with a one-timer of his own. Florida's great young franchise defenseman Aaron Ekblad fed it to Jagr for his fifth goal of the season (and 754th all-time, 3rd most in NHL history). Pastrnak helped Boston regain a 2-1 lead at 16:37 with help from a slick feed by linemate Brad Marchand. Patrice Bergeron had the other assist on Pastrnak's 14th goal of the season (3rd most in the NHL). It was only a one-goal advantage but the team records were in Boston's favor after two periods: they were 11-0-0 when leading after two and Florida was 1-7-2 when trailing after two.

Obviously, that one-sided sample will change for the B's at some point and it appeared to be this evening as Alexander Barkov tied it at 7:54 of the third period. Patrice Bergeron turned the puck over in his own zone (something which hardly ever happens) and former teammate Reilly Smith was there to pass it to Barkov for an absolute snipe on Rask. Boston responded a little over five minutes later as Backes tipped in Spooner's shot from the half-wall for his seventh goal of the season. Luongo had just reached his bench when Jason Demers scored one last tally that knotted things at three. Matheson and Vincent Trocheck assisted on Demers' fourth goal of the season which came at 18:31 after a fortuitous bounce off the end boards came right to him and he was able to sneak it by Rask from a tough angle.

Pastrnak's goal in overtime as mentioned above was pure filth, some fine Bruins porn if you will. Krejci held the puck and waited for his fellow Czech to go out of the zone then come back in with speed so when he got the puck he was able to work it around Matheson and then Luongo who went down to the ice a bit early. Pastrnak was able to lift the puck with a forehand shot over Luongo as the Garden crowd exploded. Rookie Brandon Carlo had the second assist on Pastrnak's unforgettable strike (which tied his total goal output from last season).

This was the start of another busy week as Boston is at Washington (14-7-3) on Wednesday (8, NBC Sports) before they host Colorado (9-13-1) on Thursday (7, NESN) and Toronto (10-9-5) on Saturday night (7, NESN). The Capitals are still one of the top teams in the NHL and they always seem to give Boston a tough game, no surprise. The Bruins have won three games in a row and they extended their season-long point streak to five games (4-0-1). The Avalanche are currently in last-place in the Western Conference and the Maple Leafs as always are near the bottom in the East so those are two prime matchups for the B's to continue to bolster their home record (7-5-0). So far, this edition of the Bruins is playing moderately better on home ice, one of their main shortcomings that bit them in the ass last season.

Left wing Matt Beleskey is expected to miss the next six weeks after he hurt his right knee in Saturday's 2-1 win at Buffalo. He had gotten off to a crappy start (2 goals, 3 assists in 24 games) but Boston has very little depth at that particular position so it could be a sneaky important loss for the Black and Gold.

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