The development couldn’t have come at a better time for the Bruins’ captain, who carried an eight-game goal drought entering Boston’s back-to-back weekend slate. And Marchand’s latest run came at just the right time for the Bruins, who endured their toughest three-game regular-season skid under Jim Montgomery earlier in the week.
Now, the Bruins enter a new week with a three-game win streak. They can thank Marchand for the last two victories.
Marchand bailed the Bruins out in Toronto after they relinquished another lead late in regulation, scoring in the final seconds of a thrilling 3-on-3 overtime to secure Boston’s 4-3 win on Saturday. Less than 24 hours later, the Bruins ran into a hot goalie in Spencer Martin and trailed 1-0 entering the third period on Boone Jenner’s marker at 19:25 of the middle frame.
Once again, Boston’s captain led by example. The veteran winger picked his spots at every area of the ice for his latest hat trick and lifted his team to victory.
First came the equalizer, where Marchand fired a one-timer past Martin on a stout feed from Danton Heinen less than two minutes into the final stanza.
Marchand wasted little time to put the Bruins ahead with his second of the night, firing a snipe for his first of two power-play tallies at 5:37 of the third.
A mere 2:09 elapsed before Marchand provided insurance, completing the natural hat trick with his second man-advantage marker via a one-timer from the faceoff circle.
The Blue Jackets embarked on a couple of power plays during the second half of the final 20. But the Bruins didn’t allow their effort, or Marchand’s latest trick, to go to waste and secured the 3-1 victory.
Here’s what we learned following ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ night at TD Garden.
Marchand knew the goals would come
As the longest-tenured Bruin, Marchand encountered several ebbs and flows throughout his career. But for nearly a decade and a half, Marchand had Patrice Bergeron by his side. Together, the dynamic duo supported one another during the highest of highs and lowest of lows.
Amid a year of transition in the first season of the post-Bergeron and David Krejci era, Marchand moved around Montgomery’s lineup to help balance out the four forward trios. But despite the recent dip in his goal production, Marchand still felt he garnered his share of chances.
“He’s an excellent player, and he helps you even when he’s not scoring. So I’m not worried about production per se with him,” Montgomery said of Marchand. “It’s going to come; we know that.”
As he searched for his scoring stride, Marchand still contributed offensively, tallying four assists and notching 23 shots on goal over his eight games between goals.
With the chances piling up, Marchand knew the goals would eventually come. That mindset allowed Marchand to develop an even-keel approach whenever he encountered previous scoring slumps during his illustrious career.
“I wasn’t really too concerned about it. I felt like I was having three or four opportunities to score every night.” Marchand said. “I don’t judge my game based on when I score or not. It’s more about how the details are going and if the opportunities are there, because if you’re consistently getting them, they’re going to go in eventually.”
Marchand snapped his drought with the overtime winner in Toronto. Against Columbus, he broke the Blue Jackets’ spirits in the final 20 to give the Bruins their third consecutive win.
The Bruins didn’t rattle after allowing Jenner’s tally.
The lowly Jackets entered Sunday’s tilt with a bit more confidence after earning wins in two of their last three games. They had settled into Boston the night before as the Bruins endured a chaotic overtime session in Toronto.
Behind Martin’s stout performance in net, the Blue Jackets looked primed to steal another two points from the Bruins. After all, they had the fresher legs and just notched a momentum-shifting tally from Jenner in the closing seconds of the middle frame.
But the Bruins didn’t deviate from their game plan. They kept peppering Martin with shots and remained structured with their defensive setup.
“It was frustrating. I thought that we had a lot of opportunities to score, but their goalie played really well. It was kind of a goalie battle, and they got a bounce. But we’re so confident in this group going into third periods, and we’ve shown over the last few years that we don’t quit and we play right to the end,” Marchand said. “We knew if we continue to play we were that we would potentially get one, and maybe more. We just had that belief again tonight going into the third, and it’s great that we did.”
With a two-goal lead intact, and in their third game in four nights, the Bruins went into shutdown mode in the second half of the final frame. They hardly allowed the Blue Jackets much room in the middle of the ice through the first 40, and in the third, the D hunkered down in front of Swayman.
“Columbus is playing well. They’re a hard team to play against,” Montgomery said. “I just liked that we stayed with it and we didn’t get frustrated. We stayed positive, and we were able to find a way in the third.”
Although he encountered a bit of a scare in the end, the Bruins got one last blocked shot from one of their reliable blue-liners who celebrated a milestone of his own on Sunday.
Charlie McAvoy completes 400th game with a “hockey player” moment.
For a few seconds, McAvoy looked like he would need a little extra medical attention. But any fears of a potential injury didn’t last long.
McAvoy skated off a tad gingerly after taking a puck to the leg in the final shift of his 400th career game. But the 2016 first-round pick shook off the initial sting rather quickly and celebrated another Boston win with his teammates.
“It’s one of those where you kind of take [the puck] off the kneecap,” McAvoy said. You can’t feel it for a second, but then you’re good to go.”
Of all the players the Bruins could ill afford to lose for an extended time, McAvoy sits near the top of the list. After all, they already lost McAvoy to a four-game suspension following his high hit to Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson back in October.
McAvoy picked up where he left off from his second career ban, providing the Bruins with reliable two-way play. Against the Blue Jackets, the Long Island native showcased his well-rounded skillset through a pair of helpers on Marchand’s power-play tallies and his three blocked shots.
“I think he’s going to be alright,” Montgomery said of McAvoy following his third shot block of the evening. “He’s a hockey player.”
A hockey player who will likely celebrate at least another 400 NHL games at this rate.
“It’s a great achievement; it’s an honor to play in this league,” McAvoy said. “I’m blessed with the opportunities that we have. Four hundred is nice, and it means a lot more that we won tonight.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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