Pastrnak got his second career playoff hat trick and the Bruins opened the second round of the playoffs with a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
“I think our guys responded well. They’re a veteran-enough group to understand what’s at stake,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We figured there’d be a little bit of the battles, the jostling, getting bumped below the goal lines both offensively and defensively, that that might take a little getting used to again.”
There was plenty of jostling, bumping and some all-out hitting as the Boston-New York rivalry returned to the postseason again. It was extra special in Boston on Saturday, when Massachusetts lifted COVID-19 restrictions and capacity limits, and TD Garden was again open for fans to pack the house — just as they used to.
The Bruins, who hadn't played since clinching their first round series against Washington last Sunday, soaked up the energy and kept up the pace throughout all three periods, outshooting the Islanders 40-22 and taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
“That was obviously a little fun," Pastrnak said. “Outstanding to have the fans back. You could feel the energy already this morning. We were all excited.”
Tuukka Rask finished with 20 saves as the Bruins kept most of the action at the other end of the ice, outshooting the Islanders 40-22.
Rask didn’t allow anything past him after Adam Pelech’s goal for the Islanders 12:34 into the second period tied it at 2. It was one of only four shots in the period for the Islanders, who were playing before a rowdy crowd of fans who packed TD Garden for the first time in more than a year.
“The energy, the atmosphere was everything we expected and more. To say that we’ve missed them is an understatement,” Bergeron said. “I think you appreciate it even more when the fans kind of are taken away from the game a little bit for quite some time and you have to play without them.”
Anthony Beauvillier also scored for the Islanders, Jordan Eberle had two assists and Ilya Sorokin finished with 35 saves, keeping New York in it through the first 40 minutes despite the onslaught of shots from the Bruins.
“We’ve got to challenge them a little bit more," New York coach Barry Trotz said. “We backed off. They’re going to make plays through you.”
Trotz said the shot discrepancy may have been a little misleading. The score was still tied at 2 after two periods, thanks in large part to Sorokin.
The rookie goalie stopped Pastrnak twice on one-timers from in close in the first period, but couldn’t hold off the Bruins’ sharpshooter as he got his second career playoff hat trick.
Pastrnak, whose first postseason hat trick came three years ago in Game 2 of the opening round against Toronto, scored his third Saturday after weaving through the Islanders zone and ripping a wrist shot past Sorokin 14:10 into the third period.
The hats began flying from all levels of of the arena, which got loud enough to shake over the few minutes it took to clear the ice as elated Boston fans celebrated being back inside the arena and another victory by the Bruins.
“It felt amazing. Obviously, it was nice to see hats,” Pastrnak said.
Pastrnak's goal and an empty-netter by Hall in the final minute triggered several anti-New York chants and a few rounds of “We Want The Cup!”
Beauvillier has scored a goal in three straight playoff games and extended his point streak to five games. ... Boston F Craig Smith went out with a lower body injury and did not return to the bench for the third period. Cassidy said Smith would be evaluated Sunday. ... Bruins D Matt Grzelcyk hobbled to the bench after being leveled by Leo Komarov in the corner in the second period. Grzelcyk was slow to get up and skated off during the next line change, but he returned shortly after.