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Grzelcyk Bounces Back

After taking heavy hit in opening minutes, blue liner notches two goals in Bruins' Game 2 victory

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - Matt Grzelcyk's afternoon did not get off to the best of starts.

Just over two minutes into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final, the blue liner found himself bent backwards over the dasher in front of the Bruins' bench, his stick propelling at his teammates as he fell to the ice.

It was a violent collision with the boards, the result of a heavy fit from Carolina Hurricanes forward Micheal Ferland. Grzelcyk got to his feet slowly and gingerly made his way to the bench, taking some time to collect himself.

But just a few moments later, the 25-year-old was back on the ice, seemingly no worse for the wear - a development that paid major dividends for the Bruins during this Mother's Day matinee.

"It was terrific," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of Grzelcyk bouncing back from the first-period hit. "I think it lifts our bench when you get drilled pretty good…you kind of chip it off and [get] back to work and score a goal…certainly gives us a lift."

It appears the hit gave Grzelcyk himself quite the boost, too. The second-year defenseman went on to pot two goals for his first career multi-goal game, pacing Boston to a 6-2 thumping of the Hurricanes and a 2-0 series lead in front of 17,565 at TD Garden.

"Aw man, he's a gamer," said Charlie McAvoy, who was teammates with Grzelcyk at Boston University during the 2015-16 season. "He's going to get hit like that and we had no doubt he was going to come back and play his game - he always does. He's a rock for us and he played awesome tonight.

"I couldn't be happier for him to break through and get a couple - first one is a great shot and the second one he showed just the kind of skill he has…a lot of patience there to cut it back and make that play."

Video: CAR@BOS, Gm2: Grzelcyk nets second goal on power play

Grzelcyk gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 4:38 to play in the first period when he took a feed from Marcus Johansson (two assists) and sneaked a wrister through Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek from the left circle. The Charlestown native picked up his second of the night with a beautiful backhanded power-play tally off a dish from fellow BU alum Charlie Coyle with 2:04 remaining in the second to extend Boston's advantage to 4-0.

"I think we were expecting a very physical game out of them," Grzelcyk, who last registered a two-goal game on Causeway Street when he won the 2015 Beanpot for the Terriers, said of shaking off the Ferland smack. "It's something that we kind of had that experience going up against Columbus in the second round, so we didn't get phased by that game and I think we responded really well. We knew how important it was to take advantage of home ice so I'm glad we got the win today."

Grzelcyk became just the fifth Bruins defenseman in the last 35 years to score multiple goals in a playoff game (Ray Bourque, 1990; Darren Van Impe, 1998; Daniel McGillis, 2003; and Zdeno Chara, 2011). He is also the 19th different player to score for the Bruins this postseason, matching the franchise record set in 1988.

"Guys are coming to play at the right time. Depth scoring is so crucial for playoffs," said Torey Krug, who matched a career postseason high with three assists, becoming just the fifth defenseman in Bruins history with more than one such performance (Bourque, Bobby Orr, Brad Park, and Carol Vadnais).

"We have it right now…we want to bottle that up and continue to use it to our advantage."

Krug, at 5-foot-9, was particularly pleased to see his fellow diminutive defenseman (Grzelcyk is also 5-foot-9) have some offensive success.

"I've been one of Grizz's biggest fans since he came in the league and we joke about it all the time now that we have a couple of guys under 5-10 winning games in the National Hockey League…we're causing havoc and doing the job," said Krug.

"When he's skating there is no one that can skate like him and break out pucks. We take a lot of pride in that, so it was fun to watch him scoot around today."

Video: CAR@BOS, Gm2: Grzelcyk's shot sneaks past Mrazek

A couple of fellow Grzelcyk diehards were also in attendance on Sunday afternoon, as his dad, John - a longtime member of the Garden Bull Gang - and mom, Kathleen, celebrated Mother's Day by watching their son in the Eastern Conference Final.

"She means the world. She's someone that I talk to every single day and [is] probably my best friend," Grzelcyk said of his mom. "Her and my dad obviously mean a lot to me and I wouldn't be in this position without them. It's great to share this experience with my family and friends and just getting the win in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

"You don't want to allow yourself to kind of sit back and relax and think too much about it, but honestly it's really special right now."

Grzelcyk, of course, is not the first Bruins defenseman to score a big goal on Mother's Day. Just two days ago, Boston marked the 49th anniversary of Orr's Stanley Cup-winning goal, which took place on the holiday in 1970.

And on Sunday, No. 4 was in the house as the Bruins moved to within two wins of another appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.

"You get to see Bobby Orr walking around and it's pretty cool," said Grzelcyk, who grew up in the shadows of the Garden. "I kind of just pinch myself every day…just really excited to be coming into the rink and be apart of the team and try to add as much as I can to it. It's really fun right now.

"You try not to think about the outside distractions or anything too much, but try to stay in the moment and capitalize on the opportunity."

Mission accomplished.

Video: Grzelcyk has pair of goals in win over Carolina

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