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Marchand strikes on the penalty kill

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / December 10, 2010

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While he seems to have perfected it, Brad Marchand said there is nothing scientific about his ability to score shorthanded goals.

“Lucky breaks,’’ Marchand said with a chuckle, after he tallied the winning goal in the Bruins’ 5-2 thumping of the Islanders last night. It was his third shorthanded score of the season, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead at 14:40 of the second period.

“I think my first one, I got caught out of position and got a breakaway,’’ Marchand said. “Second one, it bounced out in front of the net and I was poised right behind the net.’’

The third? After David Krejci was sent off for hooking at 13:27, Marchand was sent out to help kill the penalty. When Islanders defenseman James Wisniewski sent the puck rattling around the boards, Gregory Campbell gathered the puck and flipped it toward the speedy Marchand, who raced across the neutral zone to retrieve it.

Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro strayed far from his crease in an attempt to clear it from his zone. But he wound up getting burned when Marchand blocked DiPietro’s clearing attempt. Marchand chased down the loose puck in the corner, and tucked it into the unoccupied net.

“I just came out to clear the puck; I beat him to it,’’ said DiPietro. “It was kind of the right idea, bad execution.’’

“I guess a lot of times if the goalie thinks he can beat a player to the puck, he’ll come out that far, especially when they’re on the power play,’’ Marchand said. “I was hoping that I would be able to beat him to the puck and it worked out well because he was so far out of the net, he couldn’t recover.

“I think he figured he would be able to shoot it by me. I was kind of in the middle, but I think I kind of fooled him and switched lanes at the last second there, and it worked out.’’

It seemed DiPietro had underestimated Marchand’s speed, venturing as far as the top of the right circle to try to clear the puck.

“Marshy, he’s got great speed,’’ said Milan Lucic, who tallied the game’s first goal and added an empty-netter at 18:57 of the third period. “It seems like he’s got his legs every night. Definitely that was a goal we needed to lift us back up to where we were in the first period. That line has been huge and it’s scored some big goals.

“I know from doing some three-on-three drills down low against him, he’s really quick at making moves and finding guys, he’s got great vision. I know [Shawn] Thornton and Campbell have a lot of fun playing with him. He’s been a great addition to this team.’’

Marchand’s third shorthanded goal of the season enabled him to tie Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux for the league lead.

“It’s a nice stat to be in the running for, but at the same time you don’t expect to get that many shorthanded goals in a season,’’ Marchand said. “When you do, it’s a bonus, but the main goal is to kill off the penalties.’’

Bruins coach Claude Julien pointed to one attribute as a big reason for Marchand’s opportunistic scoring.

“It’s hustle,’’ Julien said. “And with his hustle, he creates opportunities and he gives himself some chances. He’s obviously become a threat on the PK. But at the same time, his line’s been very good for us and he’s deserving of a lot of the credit for that, as well.

“I think he’s coming around and becoming a better and better player here as we move forward. I think last year we saw spurts of that, but a lot of inconsistencies. He wasn’t able to maintain that level. This year that’s been his big challenge and he’s done well.’’

Marchand’s done so well scoring shorthanded, he’s almost got it down to a science.

“Any time a team scores against us shorthanded, it’s a real kick in the butt,’’ Marchand said. “And we want to make sure we do the same to the other team. We want to put pressure on them. Any time you can use it to swing momentum, it’s great for us.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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