When Bruins winger Brad Marchand scored with 5:46 remaining last night against the Canadiens, it gave his team some breathing room in the form of a 3-1 lead.
But as it turned out, Marchand’s goal was critical because the Habs rallied to within 3-2 at 18:46 and The Little Ball of Hate wound up with the winner.
His 12th of the season gave Boston its fifth straight victory and 19th in its last 22 games.
Not only was Marchand’s tally the deciding factor, it was beautifully executed. Center Patrice Bergeron did much of the dirty work, forcing a turnover at the blue line. Then it was phenom Tyler Seguin who fed the puck to Marchand. The winger made a deft deke to dodge a pokecheck by goalie Carey Price. He finished the play by zipping a backhander into the net Price vacated as he was falling to the ice.
“He was already in the motion of pokechecking,’’ said Marchand. “I just pulled it around him and it went in. Once [Seguin] got it, I saw the ‘D’ man go to him and I was all alone. I was hoping he’d get it through and he made a great play getting it down to me.’’
Marchand hasn’t made a habit of scoring goals as he’s falling down but he’ll take it.
“I think it’s probably my first,’’ he said.
Marchand said the remarkable run the Bruins have been on has made the locker room an upbeat place, quite a difference from earlier in the season when Boston struggled out of the gate.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun,’’ he said. “You come in and when you’re winning a lot, it’s a lot easier coming into the rink and going to work. We still know that when we’re here, we have a job to do and I think everyone embraces that and does the most to make sure they’re at their best every day and because of that, that’s why we’re winning right now.’’
The victory over the Canadiens was particularly impressive because the team was missing one of its top forwards in Milan Lucic, who served a one-game suspension.
“With [Lucic] out, we knew everyone had to step up a little bit,’’ Marchand said. “He’s a key part of our team missing right now so a lot of guys did a great job stepping up.’’
It took the Bruins a while to get going. Although the teams were tied, 1-1, after the opening 20 minutes, there wasn’t much emotion or hitting going on. Some of that was the absence of Lucic.
“Definitely with [Lucic], he brings a lot of energy and a lot of emotion to the game,’’ said Marchand. “He’s a big, physical presence out there and he creates a lot of opportunities out there just by being physical. We definitely missed that from him and from his line but it will be nice to get him back.’’
The Bruins expected a low-scoring game last night, which was completely different than the offensive explosion in Saturday’s blowout over the Flyers. Marchand said it’s about finding ways to win.
“It’s huge that we can play with any kind of team, we can play with skilled teams or big, strong power teams that like to grind it out,’’ he said. “The fact that we can play against different styles is definitely an advantage to us and we have to use that whenever we can and come up with wins like we did tonight.’’
The Bruins are capable of scoring ugly goals, ones that bounce off shinpads, skates (such as David Krejci’s second-period goal that put Boston up, 2-1) or get deflected through traffic, but Marchand’s goal was aesthetically pleasing.
“Sometimes people underestimate our team for the amount of skill we have,’’ said Marchand, “but we have a lot of guys who make great plays but every now and then, we get a nice goal.’’