TORONTO — Some day, when Ryan Getzlaf feels Brad Marchand give him a stick below the belt, watch him run over his goalie, or hear him chirp every Duck on the ice, the Anaheim captain will regret the bear hug he wrapped around the Bruins agitator on Thursday at Air Canada Centre.
Even Marchand’s most hated adversaries, however, could not help but repeatedly embrace No. 63 after he delivered the World Cup of Hockey to the nation — on the penalty kill, no less — that believes it is the sport’s steward. With one whippy snap of his stick, Marchand snapped the winning puck over Jaroslav Halak’s glove in the final minute of regulation to give Canada a 2-1, come-from-behind win and the tournament title over Team Europe. The Canadians won Game 1 on Tuesday, 3-1.
If not for the left wing, tabbed by the Team Canada brass in the second round of player selection, the World Cup could be going to a winner-take-all game on Saturday.
“Just crazy how everything worked out,” said Sidney Crosby, Marchand’s center. “When you get a penalty that late in the game, you’re just trying to force overtime. Then Marshy comes down and buries one like that, it’s a pretty unbelievable feeling considering how hard we had to work to get our chances tonight.”
With help from Patrice Bergeron, his linemate in perpetuity, Marchand made sure that an early return to Boston would be his destiny.
Around the NHL, Marchand’s tournament selection was not a rubber stamp. There are coaches, such as the Rangers’ Alain Vigneault, who do not respect Marchand’s body of work. In their minds, Marchand is an agitator first and foremost, quick to slash and swear and perform all kinds of nasty that Bergeron does not.
But the Bruins know quite well how robust Marchand’s game has become. He can skate. He can check. He can kill penalties. And as he showed on Thursday, he can score.
Things didn’t look good for the Canadians, despite being tied, 1-1, when Drew Doughty was sent off for high-sticking Tobias Rieder with 1:50 left in regulation. But Jonathan Toews started the winning sequence by gaining control of the puck, driving the European defenders back, and waiting for help.
Marchand provided it. After hauling in Toews’s pass, Marchand fired one of his signature wristers — heavy, accurate, fast — on net. Halak had no chance to punch out the riser, which thudded into the back of the net 43.1 seconds before overtime.
As Marchand looped around, he jumped twice in joy, then was hugged by Alex Pietrangelo.
“The whole thing’s been a bit of a whirlwind,” said Marchand, who signed his eight-year, $49 million extension with the Bruins on Monday. “You come into a tournament like this just trying to take everything in. It’s the biggest stage in the world right now. To be a part of it is an incredible honor. Then to be put on a line with Sid and Bergy, it’s another big honor. There’s a lot of pressure that goes with that. It’s been an incredible experience. Every day with the guys in the room, off the ice, the things we had to overcome — it’s a dream come true. I’ll cherish every second of this for the rest of my life.”
Marchand would not have been in position to snap home the winner without yet another assist from his linemate. Canada was down for more than 50 minutes, 1-0. Zdeno Chara scored Europe’s only goal at 6:26 of the first when he fired a shot from the left circle that eluded Carey Price.
But the Bruins captain saw his team’s lead disappear because of net-front work by his Black-and-Gold alternate captain. At 16:25 of the third, Anze Kopitar was sent off for holding Corey Perry. Bergeron made sure to make the most of Canada’s opportunity.
Canada’s power play, 0 for 4 before Kopitar’s penalty, finally punched through because of Bergeron’s perfect positioning, strong stick, and soft hands. Bergeron did not start the tournament on the power play. But after ex-teammate Tyler Seguin’s departure because of a fractured heel, Bergeron got the nod to play his usual bumper position on the man-advantage.
Bergeron, working the high slot near the right circle, found a soft spot in Europe’s penalty kill. At the same time, point man Brent Burns fired the puck on net. Bergeron lifted his blade and tipped Burns’s shot. Halak, anticipating the trajectory of Burns’s shot, had no chance to reset to stop Bergeron’s tip.
“Amazing deflection by Bergeron,” said Europe coach Ralph Krueger. “World-class hand-eye coordination to redirect that puck into the corner.”
After the game, Bergeron walked directly in front of Marchand in the handshake line. They greeted Chara, their teammate, who they will see soon in Boston.
Then they stood on the blue line to sing “O Canada.” Marchand draped his arms around Matt Duchene and Steven Stamkos, two opponents whose usual idea of physical contact with the left wing involve punches more than hugs. As Marchand sang his national anthem, he felt joy, satisfaction, and pride.
“When you watch that flag go up, all these emotions are going through your head,” Marchand said. “You’re representing your country. Your team just had success and you won for your country. That’s something you can’t describe. It’s an incredible feeling. I’m at a loss for words right now. You’re just trying to take every moment of it in, because you’ll look back and wish you could do it over and over again.”