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Second Round

Pastrnak back in scoring form, helps Bruins win Game 5

Has three goals in past two games, pushes Blue Jackets to brink

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- The celebration was pure joy, pure exhilaration, pure relief. 

From the top of the left circle, Brad Marchand had sent the puck across the slot to the onrushing David Pastrnak, who tipped it past Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with 1:28 remaining in Game 5, setting off a raucous TD Garden celebration. 

Bobrovsky was left face down on the ice. 

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Blue Jackets series coverage]

 

Pastrnak, meanwhile, dipped to one knee as he skated along the boards, pumping a fist as a smile spread along his face and as he was mobbed by his teammates. Not only had he scored the game-winner with overtime looming to give the Boston Bruins a 4-3 win, putting them up 3-2 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round, it was his second goal of the game and third in the past two games. 

It was a signature moment for a player who had been in search of his game not long ago, a player questioned and doubted, who faced heat for his struggles and his lack of production. And while Pastrnak and a chippy Marchand deflected questions about the pressure that had been on them and their line, it was hard not to see how much the Bruins needed them.

On Saturday, they got them. 

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm5: Pastrnak wires a wrister past Bobrovsky

"We've been waiting for that for a while," defenseman Torey Krug said. "He put a lot of pressure -- I wouldn't call it pressure -- but he put a lot of onus on himself to get out of the funk, and we need him to win hockey games. That showed tonight. If we can get that consistency factor out of him, then we're a scary team."

Pastrnak, who scored 38 goals in the regular season, had scored two in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, both coming in Game 4. He had scored once in the first three games against the Blue Jackets, a tip off his skate in Game 2. He looked off, his hands not nearly as sure, his shot not always on target.

Coach Bruce Cassidy analyzed Pastrnak's indecisiveness with the puck, moving him around the lineup, from the first line to the second to the third, from the top power-play unit to the second.

But he got a one-timer in Game 4 in Columbus, and it felt like, even with a pair of giveaways, that might just propel him and his line back to their usual selves in Game 5. It did. 

"There's no doubt in any of our minds they're going to come through," defenseman Charlie McAvoy said. "They always do. They love the big stage, and we needed them big-time tonight and they showed up. They delivered."

It wasn't just Pastrnak. It was Marchand. It was Patrice Bergeron. It was the top line, at 5-on-5, that combined for six points (three goals, three assists) and 15 shots on goal. 

"When you're offensive guys and you're players like those guys that put a lot of pressure on themselves to lead, both production-wise, effort-wise, details, if it doesn't go your way, there's a level of frustration," Cassidy said. "They're human. 

"Now they break through the other night, tonight now they're back to feeling good about themselves. They're dominant when they're on and they're very good even when they're not on. If they start feeling it, it's a tall task for the other team."

After David Krejci opened the scoring 1:39 into the second period, Marchand scored his first goal of the second round at 4:51 of the third, opening a 2-0 lead for the Bruins. Bobrovsky started with a stellar glove save on Marchand, who promptly picked up the rebound and put it back again. This time it hit the back of the net. 

"I just closed my eyes," Marchand said. "It went in wherever it went in."

Seth Jones narrowed the lead to 2-1 at 10:33, setting off a rollercoaster of a period. Pastrnak scored his first 43 seconds later, and just six seconds after a stellar Tuukka Rask save on Nick Foligno. Two more goals came for the Blue Jackets, from Ryan Dzingel at 12:07 and Dean Kukan at 13:58.

But that just set up Pastrnak for his moment. 

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm5: Pastrnak redirects late go-ahead goal

"It was awesome," Rask said. "He was buzzing. They've been playing him hard and not giving him any time and space, and it's tough. When you're a player who wants the puck and wants those chances, it's not easy when everybody is on you all the time on the ice, not giving you any room. But he's the kind of player when he gets that room he's going to make them pay, and today he did."

And it lifted the Bruins to one win away from the Eastern Conference Final, with Game 6 on Monday at Columbus (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). In the most difficult moments, when they were tested, when they needed goals, their top line was there. Pastrnak was there. It was what the Bruins had gotten from those players all season, and what they needed from them as the moments reached a crescendo. 

The pressure might have been mounting, though Marchand and Pastrnak questioned that characterization, and the struggles might have been real, but they were forgotten and forgiven Saturday. 

"If you give a line like that enough games under their belt against a certain opponent, they're going to find enough things that work," Krug said. "Early on they were frustrated, the normal things were not working for them, but now they're finding what works. They're a scary line. They come at you and they attack you, now pucks are going in for them."

If you ask Marchand, he knew it was coming. He wasn't worried.

"It's inevitable," he said of Pastrnak breaking through. "You give that guy opportunities every game, they're going to go in. He's done it all year. He's been a huge player for our group, and he continues to be. These are the things that we've come to expect with him: show up in the big moments, and he continually does."

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