canada africa partner reservation David Pastrnak meets the moment with Game 7 heroics vs. Toronto

David Pastrnak meets the moment with Game 7 heroics vs. Toronto

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Browns

“I just accepted it like a man and tried to be better. I admitted that I had to be better. And I still have ways to be better.”

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 04: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Brandon Carlo #25, Charlie McAvoy #73 and John Beecher #19 after scoring the winning goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime to win Game Seven winning the First Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 4, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts.

David Pastrnak scored the winner of Game 7 in overtime on Saturday. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Pat Maroon might have said it best Saturday morning when he brought up the subject of Game 7s.

“I think for us we always talk about playing on the street and playing as a young kid,” the veteran forward said. “These are opportunities where some people who expect to be heroes become heroes, right?”

On Saturday night, David Pastrnak seized the opportunity when his team needed it most.

Pastrnak’s backhand count past Ilya Samsonov’s skate marked the 38th of his career in the postseason. He has lit the lamp another 348 times through 674 regular season games.

But Saturday’s Game 7 goal against Toronto meant much more to a Bruins team finally freed from first-round purgatory — and a franchise game whose legacy was tested Saturday night.

The pressure was on for an entire Bruins roster, amid a 3-1 series collapse for the second straight year. But Pastrnak in particular had plenty on the line during Game 7 against Toronto.

After being limited to just two goals in the first six games of this first-round matchup with the Maple Leafs, Jim Montgomery – not one to publicly admonish his players to the media – took a closer look at his top.

“Your best players have to be your best players this time of year,” Montgomery noted Thursday after Boston’s 2-1 loss to Toronto in Game 6. “I think the effort is tremendous, and they have to come through with a number of big plays and big moments. I think (Brad) Marchand did that in the series. Pasta needs to go one step further.”

Pastrnak has long established himself as one of the league’s best wingers, armed with a blistering one-timer and the creativity needed to decimate even the stingiest of defensive structures.

But while Pastrnak continued to add to the stats, his brilliance on the ice did not coincide with significant gains for his team in the postseason.

Some of that isn’t the fault of Pastrnak, who scored a total of three goals in Games 6 and 7 against the Florida Panthers last April in an effort to put a record over the top.

But after a quiet performance against Toronto and another potential series collapse on the line Saturday, questions began to arise about Pastrnak and whether or not this next core of Bruins leadership had the courage to take this team to the second round to push.

Entering Saturday night, the Bruins were 0-for-6 in their last six win scenarios, dating back to the 2021-2022 season. They last advanced to the second round of the postseason in the spring of 2021 and are just 2-5 in their last seven home playoff games.

The Bruins desperately needed some luck to fall their way.

And Pastrnak – as critics labeled his new label a serial underachiever – found the bounce he needed thanks to a pass from Hampus Lindholm in extra time.

“I thought he was dynamic tonight,” Montgomery said of Pastrnak. “I thought he had the most time in possession, created shots, took what was available and didn’t force things, which sometimes happens with really gifted attacking players.

“But when I walked in this morning, he had a smile on his face from ear to ear. And he said, ‘How are you doing coach, are you sleeping well?’ And as soon as I know he’s in that state of mind, I knew tonight was going to be good.

Pastrnak’s heroics did more than punch Boston’s ticket to the second round of the playoffs. It probably saved a few jobs on the Bruins staff and eschewed any talk about his own shortcomings as the go-to player on this roster.

Pastrnak reached hockey’s highest level in Game 7. But the 27-year-old forward was far from satisfied on Saturday night.

“With Jimmy… I told him – like I’m the coach and you’re me? I would say the same thing,” Pastrnak said of Montgomery’s public call. “So I had no problem with him saying that. He tries to get the best out of every player and he expects more, and like I said, I just took it like a man and tried to be better. I admitted that I needed to be better. And I still have ways to get better.

That’s good news for the Bruins, and potentially bad news for a Panthers team looking to end Boston’s season for the second straight year.