Though the Boston Bruins are off to one of the hottest starts in the NHL, it wasn't until their latest win that the team showed signs of firing on all cylinders.
David Pastrnak scored all four goals in a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, but most important was that two of his tallies came in the third period -- Boston's first scores in the frame this season. That kind of start-to-finish production will be needed Thursday, when the Bruins host the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Prior to Monday, Boston had scored nine of its 12 goals in the first period. Against the Ducks, Pastrnak struck once in both the first and second, before putting the game away with his third-period strikes 2:14 apart as the Bruins won for the fifth time in six games to kick off the year.
"He's been real good for us," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy of his star winger. "We've needed it. We're not getting the balanced scoring yet, but right now he's on."
The performance vaulted Pastrnak to a tie for third in the league with six goals, all of which have come in his last four games. The 23-year-old forms a still dangerous trio alongside Brad Marchand (four goals, five assists) and Patrice Bergeron (one goal, four assists) on Boston's top line.
"We've been together a long time now," Pastrnak said. "It's kind of expected from us."
Also dangerous are the Lightning, despite an uneven 3-2-1 start. Last year's Presidents' Trophy winner with the best record in the league, Tampa Bay has received strong offensive support amid inconsistent goaltending.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, showed signs of getting on track in a win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, when he held the hosts to one goal on 34 shots. Vasilevskiy had given up at least two goals in each of his first three starts on the season.
"He made some great saves," defenseman Victor Hedman said after the victory. "He's so quick in the net. Vasy's the best goalie in the world, and he proved that again tonight."
Steven Stamkos scored the game-winning goal in the contest for the Lightning and leads the team with four.
The Bruins are expected to start Tuukka Rask in net Thursday night after Jaroslav Halak picked up the win Monday. Boston has alternated between the two goalies for its first six games; Rask comes in off a 31-save shutout of the New Jersey Devils in his last outing.
Bruins center David Krejci, who exited Monday's game with an upper-body injury, skated Wednesday and is considered day-to-day. The team has yet to rule him out.
Thursday's game is the first of four between the Bruins and Lightning as division rivals. Tampa Bay won three of the four meetings between the clubs last season.
The contest marks the end to a six-game road trip for the Lightning, who have gone 2-2-1 to this point.
--Field Level Media