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Bruins, Marchand Bring Back 'Thrill' of OT Playoff Hockey

OT Game in Detriot

It all came back flooding back Thursday night.

That uneasy feeling that leaves you holding back a torrent of profanity until the game is over, no matter the outcome. It must be springtime and NHL playoff time across New England.

The angst, queasy stomachs, faux angina, and bladder-testing agony of Overtime Playoff Hockey returned. The Boston Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 Thursday in Game 4 of their playoff series. Boston leads 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Another excruciating overtime playoff hockey victory.

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Sorry, CNBC viewers, but Game 5 is Saturday at 3 p.m. on the real-life, honest-to-God NBC Network.

There were scant moments of joy in Thursday's game for Boston, especially between Milan Lucic's game-tying goal 1:15 into the third period and the game-winner after 73 minutes and 32 seconds of hockey.

Why was this affair so freakin' miserable until the Bruins actually won it? One, it was playoff hockey. These games are never fun to watch until they're finished and one is pleased with the outcome. Multiple missed opportunities by Boston and the fact the Detroit actually showed up to play were a huge factor in creating the mental convulsions that captivated Bruins fans. Red Wings fans even stayed in their Hockeytown seats until the end. But they would go home with their dead and smelly cephalopod molluscs on ice and their team near playoff extinction.

Brad Marchand delivered one of the biggest whiffs in the history of the Boston Bruins Thursday night. But it didn't count. That bodes well for this hockey team.

There was a little Glen Wesley, Billy Buckner, some Billy Cundiff, and way too much drama in Marchand's miss.

All he needed was a little tip-in, a quick flip.

"I definitely wanted to bury it hard ... Maybe my shot is too hard," Marchand said.

Yeech turns to yucks.

Marchand still managed to squeeze in a couple of dives during play, as well. A very busy non-productive night.

How the [expletive] does he miss that one?

Marchand's field of vision showed nothing but net after getting a third-period feed from Tory Krug. His errant shot sailed wide left of a wide-open net. It was literally harder for Marchand to miss from that spot than it was for him to score. But he managed to do just that. And millions of Bruins fans were denied the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Mike Carp lob knuckleballs during a 14-5 Red Sox loss to the Yankees on what turned out to be Capitulation Night. Marchand had another epic open-net miss in the first period, sailing his shot across the goal.

But this time, fate sided with the Little Ball of Hate.

While the Red Sox were doing their best version of the "Bad News Bears," these Bears avoided having to suffer through their worst nightmare since last June.

Leave to the genius of Jack Edwards, the always-dynamic Bruins play-by-play man for NESN, to explain why Marchand is not being completely destroyed at this moment on social media, the internet and talk radio.

"Every shot in overtime is a good shot."

The overtime goal that won this game came courtesy of a dump-in from Dougie Hamilton that followed a cross-ice pass from David Krejci. The shot glanced off Jarome Iginla's stick and off Danny DeKeyser's leg before finding its home in the back of the net. Four players, three Bruins, combine to tally the game-winner. And Marchand misses a wide-open net. Twice. After all the solid chances the Bruins earned during their complete overtime dominance, the winner came on a shot that was more "set-up something" and less scoring opportunity.

The bad breaks began for the Bruins when Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard came down with the "flu" and was pulled for Game 4. The Red Wings charged from the first faceoff. Niklas Kronwall scored 11 minutes into the game on a power play, the first time Detroit broke through the Bruins penalty-kill barrier for the first time in the series.
Jonas Gustavsson kept the Red Wings alive into overtime, but would eventually succumb to the relentless Bruins overtime onslaught.

But after yielding a 2-0 lead, Tuukka Rask continued his march toward a potential Conn Smythe Trophy. He's only got 13 victories ahead of him if the Bruins are to win another Stanley Cup. No problem, right? Thus far against Detroit, Rask has played brilliantly. The two goals he allowed the first period Thursday doubled the number he had allowed in the previous three games in the series.

Four goals allowed in four-plus games. The math might be tricky for Manny Ramirez or Michael Pineda but thanks to Thursday's OT, Rask's overall GAA in the postseason is 0.96. Rask's save percentage is .966, so he hasn't necessarily been perfect. But he has been efficient, unflappable and stone-cold steady. Any problems this team has begin outside the crease. There will, however, be plenty of doubters, contrarians and blowhards who will find that one clip where he went down too early, or leaned left when he should have gone to his right side. Spare us the mantra that he hasn't won a Stanley Cup - and therefore cannot win a Cup - and instead focus on how well he is playing at the moment.

Rask was challenged just 51 seconds into overtime but he made a tremendous stick save to deny forward Justin Abdelkader overtime glory on a breakaway.

"He keeps getting better all the time," Claude Julien said after the game.

As long the Bruins don't get any worse, their season - and all that wonderful anxiety, anger, frustration, profanity and eventual fun - won't be ending anytime soon.

The OBF Blog is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or hit him on at his
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