BostonBruins.com - With the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and a plethora of other perennial NHL superstars on the ice, it came as no surprise that Patrice Bergeron emerged once again as the hero.
With just under five minutes remaining in the second overtime of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals, in what spilled into the wee hours of Thursday morning, Bergeron willed his team to victory. With Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik draped all over him, Bergeron still managed to redirect a Brad Marchand feed past Tomas Vokoun to put the Bruins one win away from making it back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
For Bergeron, playing the role of hero in a dramatic postseason setting has become something common for No. 37, almost as much as his dominance in the faceoff circle, or tenacity in the defensive zone. Here is a look at some of Patrice’s most iconic playoff moments.
2011 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7, at Vancouver
The Bruins had grown accustomed to playing in Game Sevens during their 2011 Cup run (the team played three in four series), but nothing can match the intensity and importance when Lord Stanley is on the line. With everything to play for, in a hostile Rogers Arena, Bergeron came up huge. He scored the game’s first goal, which proved to be the eventual winner, and then provided an insurance goal to push the B’s lead to 3-0 with a shorthanded tally. He was a plus-4 on the night, which ended in him and his teammates hoisting the Stanley Cup.
The lasting memory was Bergeron’s shorthanded goal. Picking up the puck at his own blueline, Bergeron sped up ice, beating Christian Erhoff and Henrik Sedin into their own zone. Protecting the puck with his body, Bergeron fell to the ice, but still managed to push the puck past Roberto Luongo while sliding on his stomach.
2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 7, vs. Toronto
The game has already been deemed “the comeback.” It should also be noted that Bergeron scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals in one of hockey’s all-time greatest come-from-behind victories.
The Bruins became the first team in league history to erase a three-goal deficit in the third period of a Game Seven, and Bergeron was again at the forefront. With Boston down two goals with 1:22 remaining, Bergeron collected the puck at the point, faked a shot, and passed to Zdeno Chara, who’s point blast created a rebound for Milan Lucic, and drew Boston within a goal. Only 31 seconds later, Bergeron again found himself with the puck above the circles, and after baiting Nikolai Kulemin out, he used the Toronto forward as a screen and rifled the puck top-shelf to unthinkably tie the score at four.
In the overtime, Bergeron netted the game-winner on a prototypical Patrice shift. After taking an initial shot, Bergeron spaced the ice perfectly on the rebound, staying in the soft area, and then pouncing on the loose puck to score the deciding goal, completing the comeback. On that night, Bergeron was also 73 percent in the faceoff circle and a plus-3 rating, with six shots on goal and four hits… all in a night’s work.
2013 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 3, vs. Pittsburgh
After logging over 31 minutes of ice time, Bergeron had no trouble taking part in an exuberant celebration after capping the longest game of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In what was almost reminiscent of his shorthanded goal against Vancouver, Bergeron outmuscled a defender en route to a net-front play that resulted in a goal.
“'You’ve got to stay sharp and find a way, but I think it's all in your head,” Bergeron said, donning the Bruins play-of-the-game camouflage jacket at the postgame podium. “As long as you don't feel tired in your head, your legs are fine.
“Your body is cramping up and you've just got to find a way, just keep battling, because I think everyone is in the same situation.”
It was Bergeron’s fifth career game-winning playoff goal, and his second overtime playoff goal this postseason, drawing him within one of tying the NHL record shared by Boston’s own Mel Hill. It also marked the third of his career.
Maybe the goal also conjured up thoughts of Vancouver because, like in that game, it was Marchand assisting Bergeron for the game’s decisive score.
“That's what happens when you've been together for three years, as a duo anyways, they've learned to play with each other extremely well,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien. “It's about driving the net, and [Bergeron] drove hard and had a guy on him and managed to get his stick in the right place, and [Marchand] made a great play.
“He was extremely patient. He could've got rid of that puck a little bit earlier, but he waited for [Bergeron] to get in position before he slid over.”
And as has been the case during Bergeron’s tenure with the Bruins, the rest is history.