“You can’t dwell on it,” Brad Marchand said. “You make mistakes in a game. You just get over it.”
The No. 2 left wing was reflecting on his ill-timed decision early in the second period. Marchand, nearing the end of his shift, carried the puck into the neutral zone. Marchand should have shuttled the puck in deep, retreated to the bench, and let the next line do its thing.
Instead, Marchand tried to dangle around Brendan Gallagher to spring Jarome Iginla for a two-on-two rush. Gallagher stripped Marchand. The Canadiens immediately ignited their counterattack. After a chaotic scramble in front of Tuukka Rask, Mike Weaver scored the game-tying goal at 1:09 of the second.
Mistakes happen. Bad players let them infect their games. Good players release and reload.
Marchand is a good player.
The Bruins, down 3-1 in the third period of Saturday’s Game 2, punched back in a big way. The Bruins hammered the Canadiens with four straight haymakers, the last a Milan Lucic empty-netter, to earn a 5-3 win and tie the series, 1-1.
“Very big considering the circumstances,” Marchand said of tying the series. “We definitely don’t want to go there down 2-0. It’s a tough place to play. They’re a really good team. We’ve got to be happy that we got this game.”
Marchand was on the ice for three of the four third-period goals, including Reilly Smith’s game-winning strike at 16:28. Marchand had zero shots in 17:31 of ice time. But the left wing helped to turn what could have been a defining loss into a critical victory.
“We just need to be smart in a situation like that and put it in deep,” Patrice Bergeron said of Marchand’s miscue. “He’s been around here long enough to know that it goes deep. But he’s got that character. He came back in the third and made a difference.”
Through two periods, Marchand was just one of the many Bruins blasting away with a shotgun at his own foot. The Bruins wore out the seat in the penalty box. Andrej Meszaros went off for roughing Tomas Plekanec at 16:23. On the penalty kill, Max Pacioretty picked off Zdeno Chara’s backhand clearing attempt. Moments later, Thomas Vanek tipped P.K. Subban’s shot past Rask.
Claude Julien immediately put his team down another man by giving referee Dave Jackson the business. The Bruins killed Julien’s potty-mouthed penalty, but Dougie Hamilton interfered with Gallagher away from the puck at 5:46 of the third. Less than a minute later, Vanek, the league’s best tipper, found space in front and deflected his second puck past Rask to give the Canadiens a 3-1 lead.
The Bruins weren’t disciplined. They were putting the Canadiens in positions to succeed — namely, the power play, where Subban rips and Vanek tips. The Bruins weren’t depositing pucks where they could retrieve them and go to work.
It was no coincidence their rally started when they finally started to skate with purpose.
Bergeron sprinted out of the defensive zone with the puck. Because of Bergeron’s speed, a flat-footed Brian Gionta couldn’t slow him in center ice. At the same time, Marchand dashed down the left wing to give Bergeron an outlet. Marchand settled Bergeron’s pass and attacked Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin one-on-one.
Then Marchand pulled off one of his trademark moves. He slammed on the brakes, curled to his left, and hunted for help he knew would be there. Hamilton, always willing to support the attack, was open inside the blue line.
Marchand drove the Canadiens practically into Charlestown with his straight-line speed. When Marchand halted his advance, the Canadiens realized they were in trouble. They had backchecked too deep because of Marchand’s dash. Hamilton had all day to settle Marchand’s backhand sauce and snap the puck past Price (30 saves) at 10:56 of the third.
The Bruins, down by just one goal, finally found some life. It had been buried in their gummed-up skates.
“We just knew that we had to focus on getting that first one,” Marchand said. “Anything could happen after that. Especially with the crowd on our side. They really got into it after that first one. It just seemed that once we got that life, we knew we were going to come back and win the game.”
Marchand used his speed to set up Hamilton. He turned to his competitiveness on the tying goal.
Marchand kept the cycle alive by winning a puck battle against Gallagher inside the offensive blue line. Bergeron and Smith worked the puck along the right-side wall. Weaver briefly settled the puck in the corner.
But Marchand had no intentions of seeing the Canadiens clear the zone. He sealed off Weaver’s advance, won the puck, and tapped it back to Bergeron. The center snapped off a shot that ticked off Francis Bouillon and fluttered past Price at 14:17 of the third.
Marchand capped the rally by engaging his most hated opponent. As Smith sent the puck to Chara at the point, Marchand broke for the net. Subban was already there as Price’s sentry. Once Chara found Torey Krug at the left circle, Marchand tangled with Subban. Both players lost their footing.
By the time Krug slipped a cross-ice pass to Smith, Subban was trying to recover. Had he not engaged with Marchand, Subban could have challenged Smith.
But an out-of-position Subban found himself in no-man’s land, unable to take away Smith’s angle or block his game-winning shot.
“We don’t want to do that too often,” Marchand said of rallying from two-goal deficits. “But I think it pushes us to play at our best.”
The Bruins did everything right except win in Game 1. They were neither as thorough nor dominant in Game 2. They committed mistakes. They lost their discipline. They didn’t get as many good sniffs on Price.
But they submitted a ferocious imposition of will after their sleepy play put them down by two goals. Sometimes that’s good enough.