By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Everybody knows that Bruins winger David Pastrnak is having a ridiculous season.
But how ridiculous of a season has it been exactly? Well, how about good enough to put Pastrnak in the same breath as Gordie Howe, and challenging for the same breath as Phil Esposito? Yeah, that ridiculous.
Back on Boston ice for the finale of the season series with the rival Canadiens, Pastrnak pulled yet another three-goal effort out of his bag of (hat) tricks, and powered the Bruins to their seventh win in their last eight contests by a 4-1 final at TD Garden.
A Pastrnak-centric night, however, was really sparked by a half-ice effort from Brad Marchand that paved the way for an open cage and No. 88's 39th goal of the season, scored 6:59 into the first period of play. It was on that sequence that Marchand swiped a puck from behind in the neutral zone and blasted into the Montreal zone with three Canadiens coming down on him. Marchand twirled and deked his way out of danger, however, and fed Pastrnak for an easy goal on Carey Price.
The ???? s have been found. @Bmarch63 | #NHLBruins https://t.co/u0x5rv2Hf6
(The goal established a new career-high for Pastrnak, too, beating the 38 he had in 66 games a year ago.)
Pastrnak was only getting started, however, and connected for his 40th goal of the year in the second period.
On the ice with Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom, Pastrnak's 40th strike of the campaign was sparked by Kuraly's interception in the defensive zone, which sparked the B's on an odd-man rush the Boston sniper finished off for the first 40-goal season by any Bruin since Glen Murray popped home 44 during the 2002-03 campaign.
The goal also gave Pastrnak his 80th point of the year, making him the first 40-40-80 player the Bruins have had since Murray in 2002-03, and just the fourth in the last 30 years, joining Cam Neely (1990-91) and Adam Oates (1992-93).
The night would not be complete without Pastrnak making it rain hats again, however, as he finished off a rebound chance through Price for his third goal of the evening, and his 41st of the campaign.
A hat trick machine. ???? @pastrnak96 finishes off the eighth of his career and fourth of the season. #NHLBruins https://t.co/ZgyGgcZson
With another three-goal performance to his name this season, Pastrnak now has the most hat tricks by any B's skater since Esposito totaled seven during the 1970-71 season. He is also the first player to record multiple hat tricks against the Canadiens in the same season since Howe had two against Montreal during the 1951-52 season.
From there, the Bruins were in cruise control, and added their fourth and final goal of the evening on a Patrice Bergeron empty-netter with 19.8 remaining in the third period.
Tuukka Rask finished with 28 saves by the night's end, but really saved his best work for the first period, as he was asked to come through with back-to-back phenomenal stops on in-tight Montreal looks that would've tied things up at 1-1.
With the win, Rask improved to 4-1-1 with a .946 save percentage in his last six home starts against the Canadiens.
In the other crease, Price finished with 34 saves in the losing effort.
Defenseman Jeremy Lauzon was recalled from Providence ahead of this contest and served the final game of his two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Arizona's Derek Stepan.
Center Par Lindholm and winger Anton Blidh, meanwhile, sat as the healthy scratches for the Bruins.
The Bruins will get back to work on Saturday afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings. Boston dropped a 3-1 final to the Wings last Sunday, and have lost five straight to the last-place Wings dating back to last season.