BOSTON — The goals will get the most attention, but the assist might have been the most important point David Pastrnak scored on Saturday night at TD Garden.
The Bruins, coming off Thursday’s messy 8-5 loss to the Canucks, were pressured by the Maple Leafs for a major portion of Saturday’s first period, but managed to come out of it with a 1-0 lead because Pastrnak won a physical confrontation for puck control and set up linemate Patrice Bergeron for a goal that truly stung the Leafs.
Of course, the three goals Pastrnak scored after that resulted in a 5-1 victory were worth noting, too.
“He gets open,” said Bergeron, who set up two of Pastrnak’s goals. “He finds that soft area.
“But that being said, he works hard to get the puck and be good on the forecheck, to make sure we can stay on the attack. Those are details that go a long way.”
Pastrnak’s third career hat trick and second this season gave him 15 goals through 16 games. Linemate Brad Marchand fed Pastrnak for the two goals he scored during power plays.
The Bruins close a four-game homestand on Sunday night against the Golden Knights.
“As a line, we had a great bounce-back game,” said Pastrnak, who was shut out and was minus-3 on Thursday night. “We talked before the game that we needed to be better than what we’ve shown in the last couple of games.”
The Bruins, facing the Leafs for the first time since beating them in last year’s seven-game, first-round playoff series, had a couple of things going for them on Saturday. The Leafs had played on Friday night in Toronto (a 6-1 win over the Devils), and were without goal-scoring leader Auston Matthews (10 goals, 16 points in 11 games), who missed his sixth game with a shoulder injury. Backup goalie Garret Sparks spelled No. 1 Frederik Anderson for just the third time this season.
The Leafs hardly looked tired, or seemed to miss Matthews, for most of the first period. They peppered Jaroslav Halak (40 saves) with 20 shots — nine during a power play that left them with a 13-2 gap in shots. (Defenseman Steven Kampfer, who took the interference penalty, was pinned to the bench for the rest of the period by B’s coach Bruce Cassidy.)
Somehow, though, the Bruins had a 1-0 lead by intermission. They went ahead on Bergeron’s ninth of the season, scored with 3:48 remaining, courtesy of two great plays by Pastrnak. After a faceoff went into the right corner, Pastrnak pushed Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly off the puck, then carried it behind the net and out to the left circle before whipping it to the crease. Bergeron had established position there on Rielly and tipped the puck past Sparks.
Bergeron returned the favor in the second period. On a setup almost identical to one of their power-play formations, Bergeron snapped a pass from the right circle to the left dot, where Pastrnak was waiting to wing a shot past Sparks at 5:46.
Pastrnak’s second of the night did, in fact, come during a power play, stretching the lead to 3-0 at 10:34. Bergeron started the play with a circle-to-circle feed to Marchand on the right side. Marchand gunned it to the opposite post, where Pastrnak had a tap-in.
A late penalty got the Bruins in a little trouble. Brandon Carlo’s jab to the face of Kasperi Kapanen at the end of a skirmish resulted in a roughing call at 17:28, and the Leafs used the power play to regain some momentum. Carlo exited the box just in time to see John Tavares cut the Bruins’ lead to 3-1 with 30 seconds left in the period.
The game marked the first of this season and second in the career of prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, who was recalled on Friday from AHL Providence. Forsbacka Karlsson became the latest candidate to center the third line, skating between Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork. Veteran David Backes was pushed from No. 3 center to right wing on the fourth line, leaving Noel Acciari out of the lineup.