Pastrnak quiet in return but Bruins’ offense continues to roll

Matt Kalman
March 19, 2019 - 9:53 pm

The Bruins averaged 3.3 goals per game while they went 12-3-1 in 16 games with David Pastrnak on the shelf letting his surgically repaired left thumb heal.

So in Pastrnak’s return to the lineup Tuesday there was a chance the Bruins offense might let up and let their 31-goal-scoring co-leader in goals (Pastrnak is tied with Brad Marchand) carry them the way he did most of the season’s first five months.

Unfortunately for the New York Islanders, the Bruins’ offense continued to roll even without a contribution from Pastrnak in a 5-0 win, the Bruins’ second straight victory after their three-game losing streak.

The Bruins were facing an Islanders team ranked first in goals against (2.33) and a goaltender in Robin Lehner who had a 2.19 goals-against average heading into his return after a six-game injury absence. So it stood to figure Boston scored five goals, all at 5-on-5.

Sean Kuraly hadn’t scored in 22 games, so of course he scored twice. Noel Acciari hadn’t scored in nine, so he buried a goal. Pastrnak? No points in 14:19 of  ice time with three shots on net. But the Bruins weren’t looking for the right wing to make a big splash, just to prove he’s healthy and getting his timing back. In what was basically a glorified practice after the Bruins outshot the Islanders 14-2 in the first period, Pastrnak had plenty opportunity to shake off rust.

And although Marcus Johansson is still out with his bruised lung, Bruins coach and Jack Adams Award dark horse candidate Bruce Cassidy got a chance to divide up his mostly healthy forward corps into four lines that he actually kept together for three entire periods. Those lines all played their role and looked like the type of line that could carry the Bruins in the playoffs should Johansson take longer to get back than predicted.

Charlie Coyle set some sort of record for most time handling the puck without getting on the score sheet in the first period, making his case to be Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci’s right wing for a longer while. Kuraly, Chris Wagner and Danton Heinen showed more offensive flair than you might expect, and David Backes, Joakim Nordstrom and Acciari buried the Islanders in their own zone over the course of several shifts. No reason to mention what Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak did because you know what they did … they’re Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak, of course.

When Johansson returns, Cassidy is going to have to take a forward that played Tuesday out of the lineup. If those 12 forwards continue to perform the way they did in their undressing of the Islanders, Cassidy’s going to have a coach-of-the-century caliber decision to make.

Martin’s nuts

Islanders forward Matt Martin was looking to spark his team when the puck dropped to begin the second period. Foolishly he decided to light the fire by challenging Zdeno Chara to a fight. The result was predictable and the only thing dumber than Martin challenging Chara was Martin getting back up to his feet after taking a punch to the chin.

Goose egg

The Bruins outshot the Islander 39-13 to Tuukka Rask had one of his easiest shutouts ever. The blanking was his fourth of the season and 45th of his career, one behind teammate Jaroslav Halak for sixth place among active NHL goaltenders.

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