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Fluto Shinzawa | on hockey

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand are rewarded for their play

Matt Beleskey (39) celebrated his goal with teammates Dominic Moore (28) and Joe Morrow (45).barry chin/globe staff

On the list of the Bruins’ concerns, whether Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand will produce regular offense is somewhere between the cost of TD Garden popcorn and the amount of detergent required to wash uniforms postgame. In other words, whether the best 200-foot duo in the league will score is barely a blip on Claude Julien’s radar.

It remains a curiosity, however, when an elite center like Bergeron equals Jimmy Hayes’s standard 0-0—0 line for six straight games. Or when Marchand pots just two goals in 13 games. As well as the first-line tandem has played, their defensive sharpness and their accumulation of scoring chances have not led to numbers on the scoreboard.


That changed on Saturday.

At 11:37 of the second period, Marchand powered through a Josh Morrissey stick check to score the deciding goal in the Bruins’ 4-1 win over Winnipeg. Less than six minutes later, Bergeron snapped his six-game slump by whipping a 5-on-3 shot through ex-teammate Michael Hutchinson.

Bergeron landed a game-high six pucks on net, the second straight night in which he led his team in shots. He missed with three other attempts while Winnipeg blocked another. Marchand was right behind his center, firing five pucks on goal and missing with two more.

“It is nice for it go in,” Marchand said. “It does build your confidence. We do need to produce. That’s part of our job. We know that. But we’re getting opportunities every single game. We could easily have 2-3 goals every game, our line. When the chances stop coming, that’s when we get a little frustrated. But they’re there every game. They’ll continue to be there.”

Part of what makes Marchand and Bergeron the NHL’s top three-zone duo is how they control the game in every area. Bergeron owned the faceoff circle, winning 16 of 21 drops. They were part of the reason Winnipeg went 0 for 4 on the power play. When the Jets were shorthanded, Marchand and Bergeron were on the ice for the 5-on-3 strike. They owned the game 5-on-5, on the penalty kill, and on the power play.


As good as they were on offense, they did even better work on the other side of the puck.

Mark Scheifele entered the night as the league’s leading scorer (10-12—22). Nobody has scored more goals than Patrik Laine (12). Against Marchand, Bergeron, and Riley Nash, Winnipeg’s dynamic top-line forwards didn’t even last half the night.

By the end of the second period, Scheifele and Laine were no more, reduced to nothing by the Bruins’ smothering defense and puck-possession dominance. Scheifele finished the game with Blake Wheeler and Marko Dano. Laine was dropped to a grinding line with Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry.

It would have made no sense for Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice to keep rolling Scheifele and Laine into the teeth of Bergeron and Marchand. The Bruins spit them out all night. Scheifele and Laine combined for just three shots on Tuukka Rask, mostly because they were chasing the puck on every shift.

“We’re not overly concerned about it,” Marchand said of their lack of results. “We know there’s more to the game than goal scoring. We’re playing against the top line every single night. I feel like the last couple games, I know they scored a lucky goal there in Minnesota, but teams don’t have many opportunities when we’re out there. We have a bigger job than just scoring goals. It’s the overall game — killing penalties, power play, and shutting down other teams’ top lines.”


What makes them so thorough is how rapidly they turn defense into offense. If Julien ever requires tape to remind his players of this philosophy, he should have Marchand’s goal on instant replay.

Dustin Byfuglien tried to carry the puck through the neutral zone. Nash applied pressure from one side. Bergeron, who had been positioned on the red line, identified Byfuglien’s approach and cut off the puck-carrying defenseman with his stick.

Had Byfuglien continued to advance, Nash and Bergeron would have slammed the door shut. So Byfuglien had no choice but to throw the puck out of danger — or so he thought.

Zdeno Chara gloved Byfuglien’s dump-in. The Bruins immediately triggered the counterattack because Marchand curled back toward the Winnipeg net. By placing his stick on the ice, Marchand reeled in Chara’s pass and careened toward Hutchinson with only a frantic Morrissey in position to bust up the play.

“A lot of plays are created from playing good defensively and going back on offense quickly, using our speed and denying their plays in the slot,” Bergeron said. “It’s great to see. There’s more things we can work on. At the same time, we’ve got to be happy with the way everyone’s buying in.”

Morrissey could do nothing about Marchand’s speed and strength on the puck. Marchand didn’t even feel Morrissey’s check as he accelerated toward the net and beat Hutchinson on the backhand.


“A lot of good things happened tonight that I’m hoping will be a positive sign moving forward here,” Julien said. “That’s some of those guys taking the pressure off their shoulders and producing. I like the way they played again tonight.”

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.