Left winger Marchand leads Bruins over Penguins
First, James Neal.
Then, the Penguins' comeback hopes.
Now, quite possibly, the Penguins chances of going to the Stanley Cup Final.
Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand has crushed nearly everything that has come across his path in the Eastern Conference final.
Marchand scored two goals in the first period Monday night — matching his total for the previous 13 games of this NHL postseason — to lead the Bruins to a 6-1 victory against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Monday night.
The Bruins went home Tuesday morning with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series looking to all but eliminate the Penguins in Game 3 on Wednesday at TD Garden.
Marchand refused to admit as much after the game, but his goal 25 seconds after the Penguins had trimmed a 3-0 lead to 3-1 late in the first period might have been the turning point of the series.
The Penguins had rallied with a Brandon Sutter goal and the entry of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to replace the struggling Tomas Vokoun, and the Consol crowd was finally getting to use its throats.
But Marchand took a pass from Patrice Bergeron, who had accepted one from Jaromir Jagr, and found a spot behind Fleury.
“I took a hit,” Jagr said, “and went out 2-on-1, and Marchand had confidence about his shot and he scored in the top shelf on the left side, so he tried the right side this time.”
It was Marchand's second goal of the game; he scored 28 seconds from the opening faceoff to give the Bruins a quick 1-0 lead and control of the proceedings.
Marchand, who was penalized for a boarding penalty on Neal in Game 1 on Saturday, said he could see the life leave the Penguins at that point.
“Yeah, it was good for us,” Marchand said. “They were getting some momemtum off that (Sutter) goal there, and we did a good job of kind of crushing that,” he said.
“It's tough when you score a big goal when you are down a few, and a team scores right after,” he said. “We were happy to be able to do that.”
When NHL historians sit down to write the story of the 2013 Bruins, there should be one chapter devoted solely to nine minutes and 51 seconds of the night of May 13.
“There is no doubt in my mind that was the real turning point,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said.
But let's not forget or minimize the 19-minute stretch Monday in the first period. The Bruins scored four goals, riding a three-week wave of momentum that stretched all the way from Boston's TD Garden to Madison Square Garden to Pittsburgh.
It started in Game 7 of a first-round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins were on the brink of blowing a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series after losing 2-1 decisions in Games 5 and 6.
The Maple Leafs had built a 4-1 lead through more than 2 1⁄2 periods of the decisive game. A second consecutive first-round playoff exit appeared unavoidable.
Then the Bruins rallied against the Maple Leafs, scoring three goals in 9:51 to tie the score. Bergeron scored the tying goal with 51 seconds left in the third period and the game- and series-winner in overtime.
“We showed some character coming back in that game,” Bergeron said. “It felt good.”