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A Special Day for A Special Player

Bergeron notches overtime winner after ceremony marking his 1,000th career game

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - Brad Marchand has had a firsthand look at greatness for nearly a decade.

As Patrice Bergeron's left wing since the Bruins' Stanley Cup-winning campaign in 2011, the bond between the two - both on and off the ice - has turned them into one of the strongest duos in the National Hockey League.

Thus, there is perhaps nobody more qualified to find the correct word to describe Bergeron than his longtime linemate.

So when Marchand was asked following Saturday's game with the Los Angeles Kings if former teammate - and Kings assistant coach - Marco Sturm's description of Bergeron as a "pro" was fitting, he had an immediate response.

"Yeah, or God," Marchand quipped. "One of the two."

After Bergeron's performance against the Kings, it's hard to argue.

On a day that he was feted for playing in his 1,000th career game, Bergeron notched three points, including the overtime winner, to lift the Bruins to a 5-4 victory.

"He's the ultimate pro," said Marchand. "The way he conducts himself and prepares himself each and every day, shows up consistently, and in the big moments continues to prove himself. So, yeah, pro is a great word, but I think God is a little more fitting."

Video: LAK@BOS: Bergeron wins it with power-play goal in OT

As he has so many times throughout his 15-year career in Black & Gold, Bergeron sent the TD Garden faithful home smiling, rifling the winning power-play goal by the blocker of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with 2:34 gone in the extra session.

"To get the win was very special," said Bergeron, whose OT tally was his 20th goal of the season, marking the 10th time in his career he has reached that plateau. "That's what I said on the bench; we've got to find a way. That's what we did. Obviously we'll take that bounce, getting the power play in overtime. We stuck with it and got it done."

Bergeron also added two assists, one of which may go down as the helper of the year. After new linemate Danton Heinen - he took the place of David Pastrnak, who shifted down to play with David Krejci - wheeled around the outside of the Kings' zone and found Bergeron down low, Bergeron somehow managed to get the puck to Charlie McAvoy at the opposite post.

With his back to the pinching McAvoy, Bergeron turned over his wrists and delivered a no-look feed to the blue liner, who tapped the puck into an open net to put the Bruins up, 1-0, at 4:38 of the second period.

"Oh my gosh," McAvoy said of the pass. "When you're out there with them, that line, especially Pat…I mean, you know he's just so special and he's going to make plays - you've got to be ready for anything."

Video: LAK@BOS: McAvoy taps in feed from Bergeron

Bergeron's first assist of the night was nothing to scoff at either. Breaking in on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Marchand, Bergeron faked a shot and quickly slid a pass over to his penalty-killing partner in crime. Marchand buried it for his 20th of the season and a 4-2 Bruins lead at 6:49 of the third.

"The legend continues," said Marchand. "It's great to see him have the game that he had. It was a great ceremony to start and he deserves all the recognition that he's been getting and has gotten over the last few years. He's an incredible player, teammate, friend, and family man, so it was great that he had the night that he did."

The afternoon began with a special pregame ceremony marking Bergeron's 1,000th career game - Boston's 3-1 win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night - during which he collected two goals.

Bergeron was feted with a video tribute that included well wishes from former teammates and coaches Shawn Thornton, Mark Recchi, Adam McQuaid, Claude Julien, Chris Kelly, Johnny Boychuk, Glen Murray, Milan Lucic, and Sturm.

Video: Boston sports figures congratulate Bergeron

Current Bruins teammates Marchand, Zdeno Chara, David Pastrnak, Krejci, David Backes, and Tuukka Rask, as well as coach Bruce Cassidy, president Cam Neely, general manager Don Sweeney, CEO Charlie Jacobs, and owner Jeremy Jacobs also appeared in the video.

"It's just great to watch him every day and he's a great leader," said Krejci, who scored his 12th goal of the season. "I'm happy I've been playing with him for many years…he is a big time player. Every time there is a big game, he shows up and he is leading the way."

Bergeron's Team Canada buddies Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Shea Weber sent their congratulations as well, as did fellow Boston sports greats Julian Edelman, Paul Pierce, Jason Varitek, and David Ortiz.

"Had to look away a few times," said Bergeron. "It was pretty special to hear from all these guys. To me, winning and the friendships I've made over the years are what is most important and that was really special."

Bergeron was presented with several gifts during the ceremony. Bruins legend Johnny Bucyk delivered a Tiffany crystal on behalf of the NHL, while his teammates gave him an all-inclusive getaway to a destination of his choosing, a titanium dog-tag, a stainless steel necklace, and an image - made of 1,000 smaller pictures - of Bergeron hoisting the Stanley Cup. Neely closed out the presentation by offering an engraved silver stick and commemorative painting.

Video: LAK@BOS: B's honor Bergeron for 1,000 game milestone

The 33-year-old was joined during the ceremony by his wife, Stephanie; mother, Sylvie; father, Gerard; and three children, Zack, Victoria, and Noah.

"It was very special to have the family on the ice and my kids," said Bergeron. "I was definitely trying to enjoy it. I doubt there's going to be 1,000 more, so I doubt there will be another ceremony. I was trying to soak things in I guess."

Marchand, his longtime running mate, could tell that Bergeron was making a point to take everything in.

"I think he's kind of at the point in his career where he understands that he needs to enjoy moments like this," said Marchand. "Even after the game he said, 'You only play 1,000 games once.' I think he's very good at taking in the moments and enjoying it - especially with his family here.

"He had a ton of his uncles and cousins and brother and all their family in town, too. So, I think he's really embracing the moment right now and enjoying it, which he should. He's deserved every second."

Video: Marchy discusses Bergeron's special night

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