Marchand not short on the right stuff
Nothing like a shorthanded goal to put the jump back into a team, and Brad Marchand scored a beauty last night at TD Garden, giving the Bruins a three-goal lead on their way to an 8-1 demolition of the Canucks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
After losing the first two games of the series, the Bruins bounced back in style and can even the series in their second home game tomorrow night.
Marchand, the 23-year-old rookie from Halifax, Nova Scotia, the mighty mite who has surprised the Bruins all season with his talent and his determination and his ornery agitation of opposing players, scored his shorthanded goal unassisted at 11:30 of the second period. Marchand (21-20—41 in the regular season) stepped around both Alex Edler and Ryan Kesler to swing down the right sidewall, protecting the puck with his body until he reached open space and cut across the goalmouth. He found his sweet spot at the bottom of the left circle.
Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo, trying to stay with Marchand on his mad dash, dropped to the ice and when he did, Marchand paused a moment to make sure the goalie was down and out, then lifted a forehand shot over him into the net.
It was the first goal for Marchand in nine games and he turned and sprinted back up the left side of the zone, gaining enough speed to go airborne when he reached the blue line in an honest-to-goodness jump for joy before dropping into the arms of his energized teammates.
The Bruins bench and the TD Garden crowd desperately needed the lift after watching top-line wing Nathan Horton carried off the ice on a stretcher following a devastating blindside hit from Aaron Rome at 5:07 of the first period. The players were nervous, even fearful for Horton. When word came that Horton, who had been taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, was moving all his extremities, the worst fears were quieted.
That’s when the Bruins started scoring, first Andrew Ference ripping a slap shot 11 seconds into the second, and then Mark Recchi getting the first of his two goals with a power-play score, a Ference to Michael Ryder to Recchi passing sequence that ended with a deflection off Kesler’s skate into the net. With Horton in mind, the Bruins were off and running.
“Horty’s such a big part of the team,’’ said Marchand. “We just wanted to make sure that we didn’t let him down, and we came together and won tonight.’’
Marchand’s goal was an appropriate reward for the effective work of the Bruin penalty killers. Vancouver’s power play, a vaunted unit coming into the series, has been humbled by the Bruins, who killed off eight Canucks power plays last night.
“It kind of killed a little momentum for them there so it was nice to get [the goal],’’ said Marchand. “They’re very skilled and they have a lot of dangerous weapons on the power play. We really wanted to make sure we [bore] down and did the little things right on the penalty kill, take their time and space away. A lot of guys blocked shots at the right time.’’
In three games, the Bruins have allowed Vancouver’s power play only one goal in 16 attempts.
“They were on a power play there and if they would have been able to capitalize on that, then it would have been a 2-1 game, a completely different situation,’’ Marchand said. “So to get that, it was a key point in the game. But obviously a lot of guys stepped up after that.’’
Recchi was quick to praise his young linemate.
“Marchy played a heck of a game,’’ said Recchi. “He played with a lot of emotion. It was great to see. I’m happy for him.’’
Another penalty-killer, fourth-liner Daniel Paille, also scored a shorthanded goal, one that gave the Bruins a 5-0 lead midway through the third period.
“I think we’ve done a good job of getting in the shooting lanes,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “That’s not giving away any secrets, it’s what penalty kills have to do. Our guys have done a pretty good job of sacrificing themselves, blocking shots.’’