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Bruins top line putting up big numbers during playoffs

Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak leading surge entering Game 2 against Lightning

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

TAMPA -- Eight games into what they expect will be a long run in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins have established a reputation as a team that will not only shut down the opposition, but outscore it in a big way too.

"We know we can score five goals per game," right wing David Pastrnak said.

The Bruins are averaging 4.25 goals per game in the playoffs and have scored at least five goals in four games, including a combined 13 in their past two games.

 

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They defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-4 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round at TD Garden on Wednesday and won 6-2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the second round at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series against the Lightning is at Amalie Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS).

"I'm happy when we're able to do that [score a lot] and obviously we've got to try to keep that going," center Patrice Bergeron said, "but good defense is also good offense so we have to make sure we tighten up some areas in our defensive zone coverage."

Bergeron isn't wrong. The Lightning outshot the Bruins 36-24 and had a 78-37 edge in total shot attempts in Game 1, but the Bruins still scored six goals.

Maybe the traditional tight-checking, low-scoring playoff game shouldn't be the expectation with the Bruins anymore.

Video: BOS@TBL, Gm1: Bergeron finishes Pasta's slick feed

Consider the following: 

Boston's top line of Bergeron, Pastrnak and Brad Marchand has already combined for 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) in eight games. Those three players had 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in Game 1 against the Lightning, including four-point games for both Pastrnak (four assists) and Marchand (one goal, three assists).

There were 10 instances of a player getting four points in a game in the playoffs entering Sunday. Boston's top line players accounted for five of them, equaling the total number of individual four-point playoff games by Boston players since 1994, a span of 162 games.

Pastrnak is tied with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel for the NHL lead with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists), the most through Boston's first eight playoff games since Rick Middleton had 19 (six goals, 13 assists) in 1983.

By comparison, there were six players in the League last season that had at least 17 points in the entire playoffs. All of them played at least 17 games and four were from the Pittsburgh Penguins, who played 25 and won the Stanley Cup.

Video: BOS@TBL, Gm1: Marchand nets nifty redirection goal

"It's crazy," Pastrnak said. "Everything is going in."

Chara credited the work ethic of the Bruins' top line and its ability to score when it gets a quality opportunity.

"There are two ways to look at it, if we are just kind of getting [the offense] or if the guys are working for it," defenseman Zdenbo Chara said. "I believe in our case we have our top guys working really hard to earn those chances, and once they get them they are good players and usually they don't miss very often. They compete. They do get the odd break, but most of the time if you follow how they forecheck and how they work together, they work hard."

Even though the Bruins averaged 3.20 goals per game through their first 60 games of the season, coach Bruce Cassidy said the belief in their ability to outscore the opposition started during a six-game homestand from Feb. 27-March 10. 

Video: BOS@TBL, Gm1: Bergeron rips one-timer for second goal

The Bruins allowed 19 goals in the six games, an average of 3.17 against, usually not good enough to win. They swept the homestand because they scored 30 goals (5.00 per game).

They averaged 3.41 goals per game in their final 22 games.

"Our guys just started realizing that they're not just a one-headed defensive monster, that we're a good team when we need to score," Cassidy said. "We found that out in Game 7 [against Toronto]." 

The Maple Leafs had leads of 2-1 just 6:12 into the first period and 4-3 at the second intermission. Boston won 7-4.

"We talked about it on the bench: 'Listen, the puck went in our net a few times here, we're going to have to score tonight,'" Cassidy said. "I know it sounds simple, but I think our guys do believe. It's not like, 'Uh oh, hopefully [Bergeron] gets one.' The whole group feels it can contribute.

"That was the second half of the year. When we started scoring more on a regular basis to win games, the guys started to believe that when we get in those [high-scoring] games we can win them just as well as the other way."

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