BOSTON – It takes a lot to get a whole NHL arena buzzing, and it takes even more to steal all the star power away from a guy like Connor McDavid.
But that's exactly what 22-year-old David Pastrnak did on Thursday night when he completely changed the momentum of the game in the first period, and scored a toe-drag power play goal for the ages to help lead the Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden.
"It's huge, and to see his little celebration afterward is pretty funny," said Matt Grzelcyk. "It definitely gets the crowd involved and gets the guys pumped up as well, and kind of allows the rest of the guys to play a little bit more comfortable there. [It allows guys to do] a little bit more hanging on pucks down low offensively."
It all started with McDavid scoring the game's first goal after he blew past both Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron with a puck in stride, and then fired a laser beam past Jaroslav Halak to give the Oilers an early lead in the first period. It was an All-World goal for an All-World player in McDavid, and it set the tone that Edmonton was ready to play.
That was the tone until Pastrnak decided to exert a little of his own star power, of course.
Grzelcyk pinched down to keep the puck in the offensive zone on a PP possession a few minutes later, and the puck popped right over to Pastrnak curling through the offensive zone.
Pastrnak pulled a toe drag fake using his elite hand/eye coordination, completely faked Edmonton D-man Matt Benning out of his hockey equipment and then flipped a backhanded bid past Cam Talbot for the game-tying strike. It was pure skill and pure talent, and really pure Pastrnak as the youngster continues his ascension into the high stratosphere of NHL superstardom.
Did Pastrnak's breathtaking piece of skill jolt the Bruins bench with 1.21 jiggowatts of electricity?
"And about 18,000 people. Who doesn't appreciate a move like that?" raved Bruce Cassidy afterward.
"You don't like it [scored] against you, but it was a hell of a play. It was a high-end skilled play. We keep the puck alive and we attack the interior. What we wanted to do against their PK is get inside, attack their ‘D' and see if they can handle us. You don't like to give up the first one at home. You have to get it equal as quickly as you can, and [Pastrnak] did a great job there."
Now Pastrnak has four goals in the first four games played this season, and has six points that put him on an early pace to go well over 100 points this season. It's going to take good health, consistency and many, many more highlight reel moments to put together that kind of a season, but Pastrnak has certainly shown that he may be ready for that kind of ascension.
Just don't expect Pastrnak to sign his own praises because he's learned better from veteran leaders like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
"I don't know – [the PP goal was] absolutely panic mode in my head. No, I don't know. It was good being able to get in the middle after a broken play and yeah, their D had a bad gap so I figured I would try that. Then I just got working to the net," said Pastrnak, who was then asked if last year's playoff experience has changed him for the better. "I don't think I can be nervous like I've been for Game 7 last year anymore. It's definitely way more calmed doing going into the games then, for example, Game 7 last year in the playoffs."
Now Pastrnak can get into an NHL superstar showdown with Connor McDavid, smile about it afterward and know that he got the better of it all. That's pretty much the very definition of the star player that Pastrnak is quickly becoming for the Black and Gold in his fifth NHL season.