BOSTON - The Bruins have been led by a dominant duo for much of the past decade.
As evidenced by their silky smooth shorthanded hook up to put the Bruins up by a goal early in the third period on Tuesday night, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have become an inseparable tandem that has morphed into, perhaps, the best three-zone pair in the National Hockey League.
Though of late, they've had some company - from within their own dressing room.
Over the past month, there has been no better connection than the one between David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. And that success continued in the Bruins' 4-3 overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden.
The duo teamed up for a goal apiece, including Krejci's winner in the extra session, to continue a torrid stretch during which the two have combined for 19 points and 12 goals over the last 10 games - nine of which have been Bruins victories.
"I think it's like Bergy and March, how they've [fed off of each other]," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team extended its points streak to 17 games. "So now maybe we're seeing the - I don't want to say now…but the birth of that last year. That's really grown this year, especially of late."
Video: CAR@BOS: Krejci, DeBrusk team up for overtime winner
The run is coming in the midst of what could become a career year for Krejci. The 32-year-old, who added a stylish assist on DeBrusk's second-period goal, now has 57 points (16 goals, 41 assists) through 66 games, just 16 points shy of his career high of 73 set in 2008-09.
"He's such a talented player and he has been for a long time," said Marchand. "The way he can slow down the game and control the play when he gets the puck…he's been a dominant player in this league for a long time, so that's not just going to go away. He's a great player for our group and he led the way tonight."
Krejci had a cameo between Marchand and David Pastrnak during Bergeron's absence with a shoulder/rib injury earlier this season, but much of the pivot's work has come alongside DeBrusk and a rotating cast of right-wingers.
The latest member of the trio, Marcus Johansson, left Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury after taking a heavy hit from Micheal Ferland in the opening minutes. But before the injury, Johansson - acquired from New Jersey at last week's trade deadline - had added even more skill and jump to a line that had already been clicking for some time.
"I think they go hand in hand," Cassidy said of Krejci and DeBrusk. "Krech is the driver of that line. We know that. When he's going, those other guys, he'll pull them along. When he's not going, it's tougher for them because he's the guy that controls it in the middle of the ice. Now, they can still influence the play with their footspeed here and there, but usually when they're going well, they're going well together."
Video: Krejci notches OT winner in B's win over Carolina
The chemistry between Krejci and DeBrusk began building last season during DeBrusk's rookie campaign, but in recent weeks their synergy has grown - and at the perfect time.
With Pastrnak sidelined by a thumb injury, DeBrusk, in particular, has helped fill the void with Boston's leading scorer on the shelf. In the 10 games without Pastrnak, DeBrusk has notched 15 points and 8 goals, while Krejci has chipped in 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) of his own.
"It's nice to produce," said DeBrusk, who now has 22 goals, smashing his mark of 16 from last season. "It's nice to help offensively, especially in the wins. I think that's the biggest thing. In tight games, you want to be the guy that scores the goal. Everyone in this room wants to be that guy, but it's nice to see that I'm getting some bounces here and there."
The goals he helped produce on Tuesday night, however, were far more than bounces. On Krejci's winner at 1:46 of OT, DeBrusk went full beast mode.
Surging in on the forecheck, the 22-year-old poked the puck away from Justin Faulk in the corner, before brushing off the defenseman and delivering a spin-o-rama feed to Krejci, who was breaking to the top of the crease. Krejci proceeded to dangle around Carolina goalie Curtis McElhinney to pot a nifty backhander for his 16th goal of the season.
"He made a great play," said Krejci. "He took the puck from the guy, then he made a great spin around and pass for me. He just kind of put it on my tape and I had the momentum going on the other side, the goalie went the other way.
"JD made it really easy on me…when he's hot, he's hot. He's been skating, he's been making some plays."
Video: DeBrusk talks 2-point night
And it was Krejci who was making the play earlier in the game. After forcing a turnover by swatting the puck away from 'Canes blue liner Jacob Slavin at the Boston blue line, Krejci tracked down the loose puck in the neutral zone to cue the rush up ice.
Then, showing off his magical play-making abilities, the center stopped and cut back in towards the net - nearly causing Carolina defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to drop to the ice - before firing a shot at McElhinnery's left pad.
The rebound popped right out to DeBrusk, who buried it to tie the game, 2-2, with 1:48 to play in the second.
"I think when you play with a guy for almost two years now, you generate that with just games played," said DeBrusk. "I could've found him a couple times tonight and I was saying I owed him one, so it was nice for us to connect there at the end there…he's been playing great all year and he's the biggest reason why I've had success personally as well. To have a guy like that in my corner is something that I don't take for granted."
Video: CAR@BOS: DeBrusk taps rebound past McElhinney