May 25, 2024

Bruins’ Montgomery: Pastrnak must step up vs. Maple Leafs


TORONTO — Boston Bruins coach Jim Montgomery called out star forward David Pastrnak after a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night sent this first-round series to a Game 7.

Montgomery was asked if the Bruins needed more from their top skaters to avoid elimination come Saturday in Boston, and he identified Pastrnak in particular as needing to provide more to the group.

“Your best players need to be your best players this time of year,” Montgomery said. “I think the effort is tremendous. They need to come through with some big-time plays in big-time moments. [Brad] Marchand has done this throughout the series. [Pastrnak] needs to step up.”

Pastrnak has two goals and four points this postseason for a Boston team that once held a 3-1 lead in the series.

Boston got off to another sluggish start in Game 6 and was outshot 12-1 in a scoreless first period. The Bruins had opportunities in the second period to take a lead, but it was Maple Leafs winger William Nylander who broke the stalemate late in the frame to give Toronto an advantage it never relinquished.

Nylander scored again in the third period for a 2-0 lead. Boston’s Morgan Geekie scored with 0.1 seconds left in the third period to rob Toronto goaltender Joseph Woll of the shutout.

“[Toronto] had a couple looks in the first period and their goalie made a couple saves,” Pastrnak said. “We got much better as the game went on. But we have to be much better at the start.”

Boston eventually found a rhythm later in the game, but the Maple Leafs didn’t allow much space or open ice for the Bruins to work with. Toronto was playing without star forward Auston Matthews for the second consecutive outing and while that appeared to galvanize Toronto’s bench, the Bruins failed to match their opponents’ next-man-up mentality.

“It’s a tight game, and they were prepared to play from the first shift,” Marchand said. “We need to be better in that area. The last couple games they’ve started really hard and carried the momentum in the first period and we have to do a better job there.”

The Bruins also were undone by their poor start in Tuesday’s Game 5 (a 2-1 overtime loss), and while Montgomery was adamant ahead of Game 6 that that wouldn’t be the case, his team did not rise to the occasion as he had hoped.

”It’s unacceptable, our start again,” Montgomery said. ”We have to find a way to start on time. Toronto, they’re starting on time. They’re getting the advantage, they’re getting the momentum. But it shouldn’t take that long [for us].”

It’s eerily familiar territory for the Bruins, who are on the cusp of history they’d rather not see repeated.

The Bruins ran away with the Presidents’ Trophy last season but blew a 3-1 series lead over eighth-seeded Florida in the first round. Now Boston is grappling with similar demons against Toronto.

“We’re not living in the past,” Montgomery said. “We’re not living the future. We’re living in the present. We’re not happy with our game. We’ll get ready for Game 7 starting tomorrow.”



Source