How David Pastrnak answered Auston Matthews’ push in the Rocket Richard Trophy race

Matt Kalman
January 09, 2020 - 11:39 pm

As sure as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs were closing ground on the Bruins in the Atlantic Division the past several weeks, Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews was gaining on Boston star wing David Pastrnak in the NHL goals scored race.

Pastrnak always tries to downplay his interest in individual achievements and awards, but even he couldn’t hide from news about Matthews’ charge, which saw him score 12 goals in Toronto’s past 11 games.

“Well obviously I saw it, you know there’s NHL Network every day in the room. So you see it. [He’s scoring> some nice goals, good for him,” Pastrnak said after he had a hat trick in the Bruins’ 5-4 win against Winnipeg on Thursday at TD Garden.

Matthews victimized the same Winnipeg team for two goals in a 4-3 shootout loss on Wednesday. That cut Pastrnak’s lead to 32-31 on Matthews.

Pastrnak didn’t waste much time doubling his lead with a game-tying goal with 2:46 left in the first period, proving that he’s going to be difficult to pass. As it turned out the Bruins had to come back three times to earn their second straight win, and Pastrnak scored the tying goal each time. Jake DeBrusk scored Boston’s two go-ahead goals.

Pastrnak dialed in his patented one-timer from the top of the left circle at 9:41 of the second period  during a power play. That made the score 2-2.

With the Bruins behind 4-3 in the third period, Pastrnak went to the net and cashed in with a one-timer from the top of the crease off a pass from David Krejci to tie the score at 11:13 and increase his season's total to 35 goals.

The 23-year-old scored from three different spots on the ice. He scored with three different lines, getting the third-period goal during a line change with Krejci and DeBrusk, and scoring his first goal while filling in for Chris Wagner on the line with Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom.

And after scoring once in Nashville in front of his mom Marcela and the rest of his teammates’ moms (and at least one sister), he gave the mothers a lot to cheer about in their visit to the Garden.

“It was nice, obviously, you know, I’ve got my mom here and my brother,” Pastrnak said. “It was their last game for a while, so it was nice. It’s always nice to have the family here, especially the moms’ trip, it’s good to get the wins and have a good mood here.”

The Bruins still have a healthy seven-point lead on the Lightning (who have two games in hand), and a nine-point cushion on Toronto. Pastrnak’s lead on Matthews might not be the spread it once was, but with so many approaches to scoring at his disposal, and his place on one of the best lines in hockey and one of the best power plays in league – not to mention his total disaffected nature in the face of pressure or any cares about personal accolades – he should be able to hold off Matthews or any other challengers for the Maurice Richard Trophy.

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