So much for a late-season slump.
David Pastrnak broke open a tight game late in the second period and the Boston Bruins never looked back on their way to a convincing 5-1 victory in their playoff opener vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After losing four of five games in April to close out the regular season, the B’s looked back in prime form during Game 1 at TD Garden.
Pastrnak ripped a rocket from the top of the right circle past Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen with 38 seconds left in the second period, giving Boston a 3-1 lead heading into the third. The winger added two more assists in the game in yet another standout performance for the Bruins’ top forward line.
Brad Marchand, David Backes, Sean Kuraly and David Krejci also scored for the Bruins, while goaltender Tuukka Rask made 26 saves.
Don’t let the scoreboard fool you — this was actually a close game until Pastrnak rifled home a pass from linemate Marchand to give the B’s a two-goal lead.
Marchand opened the scoring just six minutes into the game. But after finding themselves dominated for the first 15 minutes, Toronto tied it up when Zach Hyman won a neutral zone race and beat a lunging Rask at the left post.
That swung the momentum in favor of the Leafs. Two close calls in the second period might have made for a different end result had they gone in.
Instead, Backes put the Bruins up for good on the powerplay with 4:17 remaining in the second period. Then came Pastrnak’s backbreaking strike.
Toronto rode a red-hot power play into the playoffs but couldn’t convert on three tries, while Boston netted three goals on six man-advantage attempts.
The Bruins’ final goal of the night came during a five-minute major penalty on Nazem Kadri, who was ejected for boarding Tommy Wingels. It was dangerous play on a defenseless Wingels that could result in a suspension for Kadri.
The hit certainly rose tensions on the ice, though nothing boiled over in the closing minutes with the outcome already well in hand. Game 2 of this best-of-seven series is Saturday night at TD Garden, with puck drop slated for 8 p.m.