BOSTON — When David Pastrnak had flipped through his closet before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Second Round against the New York Islanders, he hesitated.
He picked out a bold number, a white suit with accents that looked like blue brushstrokes along the arms and legs. He added a wide-brimmed hat.
It was the choice of a man who knows that a lot of people will be looking at him, embracing him, as he played in front of a full house at TD Garden for the first time this season. It was a confident choice, fitting for a player who had started to heat up at the end of the first-round series against the Washington Capitals.
And when Pastrnak scored his third goal of the night on Saturday, giving the Bruins a two-goal lead in a game they would eventually win 5-2 to take the lead in the best-of-7 series, the choice appeared not only bold, but prescient.
“It seems like he rises to the occasion every time he’s asked to,” Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said. “He’s one of those guys that he brings that energy but also he loves to get the crowd going. So it seems kind of fitting for him to have one of those nights with fans back in the building.”
The hat trick was the 25th in Bruins playoff history and the second for Pastrnak, making him the fifth Bruins player to have multiple hat tricks in the playoffs, joining Phil Esposito (four), Johnny Bucyk (three), Cam Neely (three) and David Krejci (two).
“Hopefully I can add some more,” he said.
The hat trick-clinching goal came at 15:50 of the third period, a wrister from the slot that saw hats start flying toward the ice. They rained for a long time, coming in waves, as if the fans did not want to relinquish the moment.
“It felt amazing,” Pastrnak said. “You can’t even explain how much we enjoyed that, especially with the win.”
Bruce Cassidy felt that from the bench.
“I was trying to enjoy the moment, looking around the crowd,” Cassidy said. “It’s been a long time since we had a full house here at the Garden. They were behind us from warmup on. … It was just a good moment to look around and see a lot of joy.”
Pastrnak had started the Bruins’ scoring with 24 seconds remaining in the first period on the power play to tie the score at 1-1. The second came at 11:08 of the second on a rebound from a Bergeron shot, giving the Bruins the 2-1 lead.
The third one gave him five goals in his past three games as he has found his game and his touch. While he didn’t look his best at the start of the playoffs, Pastrnak began to heat up, with a goal and an assist in each of the final two games of the 4-1 series win against the Capitals.
Pastrnak struggled during the playoffs last summer (three goals in 10 games), and then had offseason surgery (right hip arthroscopy and labral repair) that delayed the start to his season. He scored 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 48 games, after tying with the Capitals Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead in goals in 2019-20 (48).
But it seems clear he has put any struggles behind him.
“Well, obviously he’s feeling it,” Cassidy said. “He broke through in Washington late, had plenty of opportunities, so that was the good news. It was only a matter of time. That line’s really humming.
“Right now, he’s going. Goal-scorers get hot sometimes. He had a spell there where it didn’t work out for him, particularly on the power play. Now he’s finding some ice and his shot’s going in. Good for him.”
That, Cassidy said, is what the team needs — the goals to go in, the confidence to start increasing. For Pastrnak to be Pastrnak.
And if he’s feeling good, as he was on Saturday, there are a few more suit choices left in the closet as the series moves along.
“It’s more like motivation,” Pastrnak said. “You need to play good. I like fashion. It was the boring one today that I decided compared to what I was going to wear. And then at the end, I kind of backed up a little bit, decided to go with this one.
“Still have a couple crazy ones in the closet. Hopefully I’m bold enough to wear them.”