BostonBruins.com - Brad Marchand had made up his mind.
As the sun set behind the Sierra Nevada, it was still glistening brightly off of Lake Tahoe, making it difficult for the winger to see as he cruised in on the Flyers' net during the opening shift of Sunday night's NHL Outdoors tilt.
He was not interested in shooting the puck on Philadelphia goalie Carter Hart - because, quite frankly, he wasn't sure where to aim.
"It was really challenging, but it was really fun," David Pastrnak said of the conditions early on in the first period. "Marchy told me he didn't even see the net, so he was like, 'I was passing the whole time because I couldn't even see where the net is.'"
That, of course, is part of the charm that makes outdoor hockey such a unique experience. And while the elements - mostly the sun - proved to be difficult at times across an incredible weekend at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort, the Bruins made sure to embrace all that came with playing in the club's fourth-ever outdoor game.
Pastrnak finished off Marchand's blind feed for his first goal of the night just 34 seconds into the contest and went on to register his 10th career hat trick as the Black & Gold erupted for four consecutive goals in the second period - three of them within a 1:39 span - to snap their two-game losing skid and leave Lake Tahoe with a 7-3 victory over the Flyers.
"It was beautiful," said Pastrnak. "I think, personally, that we played in both conditions with the sun and in the dark, it was really great. The dark is beautiful, too…overall, it was an unbelievable experience.
"We knew we were going to have some fun, but as soon as the puck drop happened, we were focusing on the game and doing everything to get a bounce back game for us and get the two points home."
Video: PHI@BOS: Pastrnak records his 10th career hat trick
When the Bruins took the ice for warmups late Sunday afternoon, it was the first time they had been on the rink that was constructed on the 18th fairway of the resort's golf course just steps away from the banks of Lake Tahoe. The B's Saturday morning practice was scrapped after overnight snowfall, and the mid-game postponement of the weekend's opening game between the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche due to poor ice conditions made it impossible for Boston or Philadelphia to go through a test run before Sunday's late afternoon faceoff.
"That was part of warmups, for sure," said Trent Frederic, who potted his first career goal during Boston's second-period onslaught. "I don't know how hard I skated in warmups. That was my first time going no helmet…a little trust issues going on, especially watching some of the ice in last game. I was really taking it in at the beginning in warmups. We all had so much fun out there today. At points, TV timeouts, you definitely stare around and see how cool a venue the NHL put on out here."
Despite having to feel things out early on, the Bruins escaped the first period tied, 2-2, thanks to Pastrnak's first-shift tally and a late-period blast from Charlie McAvoy. The setting sun - while providing those glare issues - made for a spectacular setting, unlike any the NHL has ever scene.
"The sun couldn't go down fast enough," said John Moore, who tallied two assists and a plus-2 rating in 22:39 of ice time. "In the first period, you couldn't tell who was who, especially on the left side of the ice. You really couldn't tell if it was your team or the other team. So, that was challenging.
"And then, I can't say enough great things about the ice. The ice was unbelievable. A big question mark, obviously, after what happened [on Saturday]. All in all, a tremendous experience and hats off to the NHL."
Moore, who also played in the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium, was thoroughly impressed with the entire Tahoe experience, which - during a season made far more difficult by COVID-19 pandemic - provided the NHL with a signature event that so many will remember.
"It's a tough year without fans but you can't say enough about this event," said Moore. "I've been fortunate enough to play in a couple outdoor games and this one just blows them all out of the water. I made it a point during my warmup to go outside the tent we have and warm up outside with the backdrop and the mountains and just kind of take it all in."
Video: Moore talks to media after win over Flyers on Tahoe
Like Moore, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy made sure to appreciate the breathtaking surroundings. As the sun set, creating nighttime hockey under the lights, Boston's bench thought back to his childhood when he would play for hours on the outdoor rinks in his hometown of Ottawa.
"Walking out, after the first period," Cassidy said of his favorite part of the game. "Because the sun had then settled, and it was truly like a nighttime outdoor [game] - when you were a kid and playing outside on a pond. That's what it felt like, the trees. Walking to the bench, you could see the lake, a few boats back there. Very pristine, sort of, surroundings. That was my favorite part. It was 2-2 at the time, so it wasn't because we were dominating or winning or anything like that.
"It was just the environment, the setting. Our guys were really into it. They had a lot of fun playing the game tonight and I think it showed on the ice."
That it did. As the conditions improved heading into the second period, the Bruins settled into their game and put forth a dominant middle frame as twilight set in over Tahoe. After Pastrnak potted another early-period tally to put Boston ahead, 3-2, just 46 seconds into the second, before Charlie Coyle, Frederic, and Nick Ritchie blew things open with late in the frame with a goal each in a less than two-minute span to give the B's a four-goal lead after 40 minutes. Pastrnak capped his hat trick with 2:56 remaining in the third to put a perfect bow on an unforgettable weekend.
"It was one thing we talked about as a group, is having fun," said Moore. "This is a special moment. You cherish these things. These are the events when you look back at the end of the career, you'll really remember…thank God we came out with the two points and it'll be a fun flight home."
Video: Pastrnak records 10th career hatty in Bruins' 7-3 win