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Bruins 2, Sharks 1 (OT)

Bruins’ overtime strategy? Just wing it

Bruins left wing Brad Marchand watched as the game-winning goal eluded Sharks goalie Martin Jones.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Bruins kicked off a four-game road trip here Sunday night with a 2-1 overtime victory that had Brad Marchand racing down ice with a long lead pass from Torey Krug and nailing a doorstep backhander between the legs of Sharks goalie Martin Jones.

Patrice Bergeron triggered the goal with a faceoff victory deep in Boston’s end, with Krug collecting the puck to the right of goalie Tuukka Rask and setting up the streaking Marchand with a long lob pass torn right from the Harlem Globetrotters playbook.

A designed play?

“Uh, I don’t know,” said Bruce Cassidy, who only took charge of the club two weeks ago when the Bruins canned ourthlong-time coach Claude Julien. “I’m not going to lie to you. They have a lot of plays — Krug, Bergy, and March. So I suspect it was.”

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Truth is, according to Marchand, it was not a planned play off the draw. They weren’t working off the X’s and O’s of a white board or a designed play left behind by Julien. Instead, they were winging it, and their bit of make-it-up-as-you-go-along handed the Bruins a season-high fourth straight win — all of them under Cassidy’s direction — before a sellout crowd of 17,562 at the SAP Center.

“Not really, we just try to read off what their defense is doing,” said Marchand, whose 25th goal of the season tied David Pastrnak for the team lead. “Torey made a great play there to get the puck up to me and I knew if I got out there he would find me.”

Marchand, legs churning, was off to the races from near center ice. As he moved in on Jones, he figured he would unload a long-range shot and perhaps look to knock home the rebound.

“Then I kind of panicked,” he said, “and just went five-hole.”

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It was Boston’s first game back after its weeklong bye vacation. They came out with strong legs, but as expected, their play dissipated over the final 40 minutes. Delayed rust of a late-season hiatus.

“We started clean for the most part,” said Cassidy, “and got sloppier as the game went on. So I don’t know if our legs got heavier and it affected our hands and our brain. But you are playing against a good hockey club . . . and we got through it.”

Rask, last seen pinning a 4-0 shutout on the Montreal Canadiens last Sunday at TD Garden, stopped 29 of 30 shots and improved his record to 28-13-4.

The Bruins broke the scoreless first period at the 11:05 mark when Ryan Spooner, stationed off the right post, collected a Jimmy Hayes misfire that ricocheted off the rear board and popped into the net before Jones could get back on his feet after the Hayes attempt.

Frank Vatrano actually began the scoring play with an alert feed up to Adam McQuaid above the right wing circle. McQuaid, an active shooter ever since Cassidy took over, fired a one-timer the hulking Hayes collected in the slot. Hayes then wheeled around, missed wide right, and the alert Spooner made the deposit for his ninth goal of the season.

It also established a career high for McQuaid: points in three consecutive games. A humble mark, for sure, but an indication how Cassidy has his entire roster thinking offense. With 401 NHL games logged, the 30-year-old McQuaid now has a career scoring line of 12-47—59, with 1-2—3 of that line added over the last three games.

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The Sharks pulled even late in the second period with the sides skating four apiece after a dustup in San Jose’s end sent Riley Nash and Brenden Dillon to the penalty box with matching roughing minors.

Only 32 seconds after the penalites, Patrick Marleau tied it, 1-1, when he cashed in on career goal No. 502, compliments of a deflected Brent Burns shot. Krug moved up to take away the Burns attempt, but Burns’s wrister ricocheted off the Boston blueliner and went directly across the slot for the breaking Marleau, who was left with a wide open left side to snipe the equalizer.

Bruins center Ryan Spooner gave Boston a 1-0 lead with his first period goal.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Prior to scoring, the Sharks noticeably picked up their pace after killing a penalty on Burns at 10:13. Once erasing the minor, and allowing the Bruins only one shot (Bergeron), they outshot the Bruins, 9-2, across the final nine minutes of the period.

Amid the tide change, the Bruins missed cashing in a prime chance to take a 2-0 lead at the 13:40 mark when Pastrnak set up linemate David Krejci at the top of the crease. Jones dropped in his crease and Krejci’s attempt kicked wide of the net.

But the reminder of the period was all Sharks, all the time. With 4:08 left in the period, San Jose yet to score, Burns snapped a 30-foot wrister from the high slot that rang off the post to Rask’s right.

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Finally it was Marleau who put the Sharks on the board. Rask, who turned back the first 21 San Jose shot, had little chance of making the stop. Rasksaw his shutout streak end at 100:14.

“March does like to sneak away when we have good possession,” noted Cassidy, who encourages his players to let their instincts guide them. “He and Krug and Bergy have good chemistry, so it worked out well for us.”


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.