Brad Marchand can say and do most anything he wants these days.
During warm-ups before facing the Montreal Canadiens, he dropped an expletive during a live interview, drawing chuckles from the TNT broadcast studio.
After he scored his third goal of the game, and lids flew over the glass at TD Garden, Marchand scooped up a sparkling magenta cowboy hat — something a disco Barbie might wear — and returned it to the bench for future display in the Bruins’ dressing room.
“That hat speaks for itself,” he said. “That just has sexy written all over it.”
Afterward, in an off-topic thread, Marchand even admitted that he grew up a Toronto Maple Leafs fan in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
What? You got a problem with any of that?
Without apology, Marchand is on fire, and his latest act saw him put up a hat trick in the first two periods on Wednesday night. The Bruins cruised to a 5-1 win, their sixth in the last seven tries.
“We were catching a little bit of heat early on,” Marchand said of the Bruins’ recent surge. “We knew that we were going to get better.”
Now up to 8-4–12 in his last four games, Marchand hammered the moribund Habs by scoring on a tap-in, whacking home a rebound off the end glass, and chipping home a shorthanded follow. The trend: All three goals were right around the crease.
Marchand scored from 12, 15, and 14 feet out, per the NHL’s data. That pleased Bruce Cassidy. The coach’s pregame message: Win the interior ice, at both ends, and keep the skating pace high.
Doing so was little issue against Montreal (7-25-3), which was playing its first game since Jan. 1 because of NHL and province of Quebec COVID issues
Grease was the word. The other two goals came from Curtis Lazar, who earned his first three-point game (2-1–3) by jamming at the top of the crease. Shots by Jake DeBrusk (first period) and Urho Vaakanainen (third) clanked off his body.
All New Year’s resolutions honored, the Bruins (20-11-2) are 6-1-0 since Jan. 1, with a league-high 33 goals.
Marchand’s first came on a great look by Tomas Nosek, another attacking fourth-liner.
The crafty Czech absorbed a bump from Nick Suzuki, Montreal’s top center, and rolled down the left wing. Marchand slipped free from his check (a disinterested Mike Hoffman) as Nosek zipped a cross-ice pass through two Habs for a tap-in.
Boston has nine first-period goals in its last three games.
Marchand showed his hand-eye coordination again 15 seconds later, whacking a bouncing puck off the end boards past Jake Allen at 14:58 of the first. That made Marchand’s third straight two-goal game.
Allen left the game at 17:11 of the first, Sam Montembault relieving him. Allen, who appeared to have a groin injury, stopped five of the seven pucks he saw. Montembault saved 31 of 34.
Linus Ullmark (24 saves on 25 shots) became the first Bruins netminder this season to win three straight games.
Marchand polished off his fifth career hat trick shorthanded, chipping a puck out of the zone to Patrice Bergeron and following the rebound of a John Moore shot. Dumped to the ice, Marchand scored his 33rd career shorty as he fell.
DeBrusk, making his return to the lineup after four games on the COVID list, picked up a shot assist with 50 seconds left in the first. DeBrusk had two chances and kept the puck alive before slinging a shot to the crease. Lazar, who had an assist on Marchand’s opening goal, was in the right spot.
“Even if we’re not putting the puck in the net, we’re turning pucks over and changing momentum,” Lazar said.
The one-sided tally from the first: 3 goals, 13 shots, and 28 shot attempts for Boston; 0, 6, and 9 for Montreal. The Bruins finished with a 41-25 edge in shots, and 65-37 in attempts.
The only Montreal pushback came from fourth-line newcomer Michael Pezzetta. He came up with a turnaround snipe, the Habs on the forecheck, at 10:46 of the second. He also bowled over Matt Grzelcyk behind the Bruins’ net, drawing the attention of Charlie McAvoy and Bergeron, who drew a roughing minor. Bergeron, the Big Bad Bruins goon, has 12 PIMs in his last four games.
“Trust me, when these hits happen, if Bergy’s not on the ice, he points it out right away,” said Cassidy, who added to his stellar record against the Habs: 12-2-1 since his arrival in February 2017.
“We finish every check … respond … push back. Let them know, hey, we’re not going to take that.”
Pezzetta also knocked Moore out of the game in the second, hitting him from behind on the forecheck. Moore’s face rattled off the glass.
“Late,” Cassidy called it, “and probably unnecessary.” He didn’t offer an update on Moore afterward.
The Bruins made it 5-1 at 10:19 of the third when Vaakanainen, playing in his 19th career game and third this season, snuck a point shot through. The goal was credited to Lazar after the game.
They’re playing fast, supporting each other, and making sure the opposing netminder doesn’t earn first star. The Bruins believe this is their identity.
“It’s tough to score five goals a night in this league. Nobody does,” Cassidy said. “But we shouldn’t be around two, either.”
The fifth goal brought out the chants. The Garden crowd showered the Canadiens with a mocking, “Olé, olé,” and gave some love to their new backup netminder.
“We want Tuukka,” they chanted in the third period.
They’ll see Tuukka Rask on Thursday. Like Marchand, they’re getting everything they want these days.