By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Boston Bruins have been playing hockey for nearly a century.
Never, however, quite like this.
David Pastrnak finished off his 14th career hat trick with a blast by Tristan Jarry with 2:26 remaining to lift the Bruins to a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
Boston improved to 59-12-5 with the win and is now within three games of the NHL’s all-time single-season victory mark of 62 set by Detroit in 1996 and tied by Tampa Bay in 2019. Boston has six games remaining.
The Bruins, which entered the NHL in 1924, also set a franchise record for most points in a season, moving past the 121 points produced by the 1970-71 team.
“It’s a great accomplishment, but it’s hard when you’re right in the moment to embrace it, I guess maybe, enjoy it,” first-year Boston coach Jim Montgomery said. “I think after the season is over, we’ll be able to sit back. It’s historical, what we’re doing. It’s a pleasure to coach these guys.”
Especially when Pastrnak is on a heater.
The veteran forward has 10 goals in his last eight games and 56 on the season, the fifth-highest single-season total in franchise history. His first goal of the game, a deflection from in front, gave him 100 points for the first time in his nine-year career.
“I’ve said many times, I’d probably take 100 (points) over 50 goals,” Pastrnak said.
This year, Pastrnak didn’t have to choose.
The Bruins won for the ninth time in 10 games even with captain Patrice Bergeron getting the day off by turning aside all six Pittsburgh power plays — including a 45-second two-man advantage in the second period — and responding every time the Penguins drew even.
“We’ve been doing that all year, finding ways to win games,” said defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who scored his seventh goal of the season in the first period. “I feel like our leadership and our overall team composure has been good for us. Never too high, never too low.”
Bryan Rust scored twice for Pittsburgh, his first multigoal game since Feb. 1, 2022, against Washington. Jake Guentzel’s 35th of the season with 7:30 left in regulation tied the game. Jarry stopped 31 shots but couldn’t get a handle Pastrnak’s one-timer from the slot in the final minutes.
“We got better as the game went on,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “I think that we had our chances to get the lead and obviously special teams are a big part of today. But if the power play gets one, it’s the difference in the game. They’re a good team and that’s a fine line.”
The Bruins wrapped up the franchise’s fourth Presidents Trophy with a victory over Columbus on Thursday and aren’t shying away from a shot at putting together the greatest regular season in NHL history.
Still, with home ice throughout the playoffs assured, Montgomery gave Bergeron a chance to rest to deal what Montgomery called nagging injuries.
No matter. The machine rolled on as Boston jumped on Pittsburgh’s mistakes.
The Bruins went 2 for 3 on the power play while the Penguins struggled to generate much of anything even when they had the man advantage. Boston’s Jeremy Swayman finished with 21 saves to win his fifth straight start.
“We’ve got to find a way to get over it,” Sullivan said. “It’s a tough way to lose tonight. A tough way to lose. And that stings when the games have so much meaning like they do this time of year.”
Pittsburgh rallied from a one-goal deficit three times, the last on Guentzel’s shot from the slot with 7:30 to play.
Yet a chance to earn at least a point in the standings by pushing the game to overtime vanished when Pastrnak’s second hat trick of the season moved him into a tie with Cam Neely for second on the franchise’s all-time hat trick list behind only Phil Esposito’s 26.
“Great players in this league, they want to be out there in big moments,” Montgomery said of Pastrnak. “He wants to be out there, he wants to be the guy with the puck on his stick.”
Bruins: Visit St. Louis on Sunday.
Penguins: Welcome cross-state rival Philadelphia on Sunday night.
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