BOSTON (CBS) — Trailing the Maple Leafs 2-1 in their opening round series, the Boston Bruins needed David Pastrnak to break out of his slump Wednesday night in Game 4.
A 38-goal scorer in the regular season, Pastrnak had just one assist in the first three games of the set. Frustration was mounting with the 22-year-old, especially after Boston’s 3-2 loss in Game 3 when he had just three shots on goal. This was not the notorious Leafs killer that Bruins fans have come to know.
But Pastrnak broke out in a big way in Game 4, lighting the lamp twice in Boston’s 6-4 victory.
“It was good to see him score. Scorers, when they don’t score, can get antsy,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the win. “I’m not saying David was there, but we wanted to keep him from going there. Getting his two goals, they get recharged.”
There was a lot of talk about moving Pastrnak off of Boston’s top line leading up to Game 4, and though he never showed his hand in practice or in Wednesday’s pre-game skate, that’s exactly what Cassidy did to start the game. When the puck dropped, it was Danton Heinen on the first line and not Pastrnak, who was sent down to the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
“I think it sparked everybody, giving them a different look,” Pastrnak said after the victory.
But by the second period, Pastrnak was back alongside his usual linemates. When the B’s let their 2-0 lead slip away on an Austin Matthews tally early in the second, that’s when Pasta started to boil.
Pastrnak broke up that tie with his first goal of the series, tipping a Brad Marchand feed on a 2-on-1 run by Fredrick Anderson to put Boston up 3-2.
He didn’t wait long to net his second tally, a power play goal, depositing a one-timer from Marchand into the back of the net just 1:35 later.
With his two scores Wednesday night, Pastrnak now has seven goals and nine assists in 11 career playoff games against Toronto.
The Leafs put the pressure on the Bruins late in the game, trimming the lead to 5-4 with 6:33 left, but the Bruins hung on for dear life to tie the series 2-2. But now the pressure is on the Leafs, with the series boiling down to a best-of-three and home-ice advantage on Boston’s side.
The Bruins also has their Leaf killer going again, which could be the difference in the end.