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Marchand, Backes & Pastrnak Click in Bruins' Opener

Marchand scores twice in 6-3 win over Columbus

by Cayn Switaj @NHLBruins / Boston Bruins

COLUMBUS - Brad Marchand was all business in the Bruins' visiting team locker room after a 6-3 win over the Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

He had just helped his team to an opening night victory in Game No. 1 of the 2016-17 season, matching a career-high with five points that included the game-winner, but he wasn't about to put any focus on himself.

"Yeah, it was a good way to start the year," Marchand said cooly. "I think the big thing about tonight that we have to take away is the character we showed."

"It's a lot of fun when you come back from a two-goal deficit and win and you show that character, especially with a lot of new faces, and young guys and a couple injuries - it speaks a lot about our team."

Boston twice came back from two-goal deficits, first falling down 2-0 early in the game, when the Blue Jackets scored during 4-on-4 and power play situations.

The Bruins cut the deficit to 2-1 early in the second, thanks to David Pastrnak's first the year, but then trailed Columbus 3-1 after a breakdown in front saw Seth Jones beat a screened Tuukka Rask. They wouldn't let in another Blue Jackets goal for the final 33 minutes of the night.

Marchand combined with linemates David Backes and David Pastrnak for 12 points, 18 shots on goal and 23 total shot attempts. Together, they were a plus-16, with Pastrnak leading the charge at plus-6.

Pastrnak opened the scoring for Boston, Backes followed up with back-to-back goals, and Marchand netted the game-winner and insurance goal. Pastrnak's empty-netter bookended the 6-3 victory.

"Well, that's what it takes sometimes to win hockey games, you need some guys to be hot, and that line was for us," said Julien. "For David Backes to step in and replace one of the best forwards in the league and have instant chemistry with that line was important and he made a big difference."

For the first time since the 2010-11 season - Marchand's first full-time duty in the NHL - the winger started the year without his go-to centerman. Bergeron did not travel with the Bruins to Columbus and stayed back in Boston dealing with a minor, day-to-day lower-body injury.

"All three of them played extremely well, and it was nice to see that we're able to come through with a big win when you're missing a big guy like Bergeron out of your lineup," Julien said.

Marchand was a force all night.


Video: BOS@CBJ: Marchand shows off moves for second goal

Since arriving to training camp after earning the World Cup of Hockey championship with Team Canada at the end of September, the winger has been on another level - which is saying something, given that he recorded a career-high 37 goals last season (nine more than his previous highest total) and 60 points.

He's playing with confidence, and if Marchand won't put any attention on himself, his head coach and teammates will gladly do it for him.

"He's played against the best hockey players in the world and he did well there, so there's no doubt he gains confidence from that," said Julien. "But I also really like the way he respects the game, and respects the game means he's making the smart plays at the right time; he's not making some bad plays and turning pucks over and we've seen that in the past."

"I think there's a huge respect for the game and those areas and it's made a big difference for him, as far as having success and bringing us to the next level."

The only part about Thursday night's game that was out of the ordinary in regards to Marchand was the lack of "oohs" and "ahhs" that the TD Garden crowd usually makes every time he touches the puck.

There's no doubt that by his fifth point and second goal, the Nationwide Arena crowd was just as awed.

"He's been like that since the World Cup - he's come back and I think there's a humongous respect for all aspects of the game right now," said Julien. "He wants to be recognized as a good player and we know that if you're just a one dimensional player, you get known to be a one dimensional player, so he wants to be known as a good all-around player."

"And he's putting the time in and he's making the effort and making the decisions to become one of those [players]."

On the Bruins' first goal of Thursday night, Marchand anticipated the D-to-D pass, faked that he was going to take the man, and picked off the pass to quickly feed Pastrnak on the doorstep. It brought the Bruins within one, down by 2-1.

On Backes' first goal as a Bruin, Marchand wheeled around the zone, along the wall, protecting the puck and sent a feed up top to Zdeno Chara, who walked in and fired a shot that kicked off the end boards to Backes. It brought the Bruins back within one, trailing 3-2.

On Backes' second - and the 3-3 tying goal - Marchand thwarted a Columbus clearing attempt up the wall before hitting Pastrnak in the slot for a shot that was deflected in by Backes.

"He's silky smooth 1-on-1. He makes the little plays, he communicates out there and when you communicate to him, he's making the right play going forward and he's a special player," Backes said of Marchand. "I know Bergy and him have something special."

"Pasta was winning battles and doing some of the little things that he needs to do to be an every day top line player and that's, again, good signs."

"You know, Backs, he's talking all over the ice," smiled Pastrnak, who had a career night of his own, recording four points for the first time with two goals and two assists.

"I don't get it, how can he do it, I'm hardly breathing on the ice, I don't get how he's talking that good," he laughed. "It helps a lot when he talks and for me, between those two, if it's Backs or Bergy, it's a pleasure to play with those guys, they've been in the league for a long time, so just trying to listen to them."

Video: BOS@CBJ: Backes redirects home his second goal

It wasn't good enough for Marchand to set up the first three goals; he needed to score the next two to put the game in the Bruins' favor.

Midway through the third, Backes and Pastrnak combined for the go-ahead, with Marchand firing a rebound into a near-empty net after Pastrnak's bid was stopped in tight by Sergei Bobrovsky.

"It was one of those nights where things were going the right way for us, I think," said Backes. "A couple of fortunate bounces, but we were making our own luck by getting pressure on the puck and keeping it in the offensive zone."

Marchand's second goal that made it 5-3 was as textbook Marchand as it gets. Brandon Carlo earned his first NHL point in his NHL debut when he sprung Marchand up ice to wheel into the zone, pass the puck to himself through Markus Nutivaara's legs, get around the defensemen, and leave Bobrovsky on a knee, staring at the ice in disbelief, after the play.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

"A couple of beautiful plays by my linemates to score some goals in the third, and it's fun to celebrate that many times in one game," said Backes.

When the night was done, it marked just the second time in Marchand's career that he had notched five points

"I think everyone knew that they had to step up a bit, for sure," said Marchand. "Any time you have injuries, it affects your lineup, but you know, the guys did a really good job at stepping up."

"Pasta had a great game, not only with a couple goals and assists, but he played smart. He was chipping pucks in, chipping them out. He got rewarded there, being put on in the last minute."

"And that's what we need out of everyone, when you have guys like that or young guys that are playing the right way and stepping up and having good games, that's how you win."

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