Pastrnak, Bruins ready for 2nd-half push versus Jets

NHL
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David Pastrnak’s most recent hat trick won’t count toward his league-best 37 goals this season, however it did go a long way in helping him being named the NHL All-Star Game MVP.

With Pastrnak fresh off winning a new car, the Boston Bruins aim to continue their drive in the standings on Friday when they return from the break to visit the Winnipeg Jets.

“Well, he’s our MVP a lot of nights too, so I’m used to seeing him go to work,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after Pastrnak collected four goals and two assists in the All-Star Game tournament.

“I’m happy for him. Good for him. I’m sure he had a great time here. Got to play with some good players, score a few goals. Too bad we came up a little short, but I’m sure he’d tell you he had a real good time.”

Pastrnak has been having a good time throughout the season, including recording three hat tricks that actually count toward his official statistics. His last official three-goal performance, in fact, came in Boston’s 5-4 home victory over Winnipeg on Jan. 9.

The 23-year-old Pastrnak would add five more points (two goals, three assists) over his next six games as the Bruins skated into the All-Star break and their bye week by collecting at least a point in 11 of their last 14 contests (8-3-3).

“It was a fun [weekend],” Pastrnak said of the All-Star break. “But excited to get back with our boys. Got a couple days to rest up and get ready for the second half of the season.”

And that starts with the opener of a back-to-back versus the Jets, against whom Pastrnak has shredded for 10 points (eight goals, two assists) in eight career meetings.

Linemate Brad Marchand has done well against Winnipeg in his own right. The pesky 31-year-old boosted his point total to 18 (seven goals, 11 assists) in 22 career encounters earlier this month by notching one of his club-best 44 assists this season.

Boston’s Tuukka Rask is expected to return following a three-game absence due to a concussion. Cassidy said the former Vezina Trophy recipient was “looking great” in practice and should play on Friday barring any setbacks, or on Saturday at the Minnesota Wild.

Rask was injured after being elbowed in the head by Emil Bemstrom early in the first period of a 3-0 setback to Columbus on Jan. 14.

The Jets hope to reverse course after being outscored 20-7 en route to losing a season-high four in a row heading into their break.

Connor Hellebuyck yielded 13 of those goals on 73 shots over the last three games to mar what has been otherwise a strong season, with his performance earning him the midseason Vezina honors by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The 26-year-old was rewarded for his efforts by being named to the NHL All-Star Game, an experience he clearly enjoyed.

“It was fantastic, I think my whole family enjoyed it. Just being here and getting some family time,” Hellebuyck said. “You know getting to see each other during a grueling season like it is, it’s nice. It’s a good release.”

Hellebuyck was joined at the All-Star Game by teammate Mark Scheifele, who leads the Jets in both assists (31) and points (54).

Scheifele, who will skate in his 500th NHL game on Friday, joined Kyle Connor in both scoring and setting up a goal in the previous encounter versus Boston.

Connor has scored 11 of his team-leading 25 goals over the last 15 games.

–Field Level Media

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