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Marchand, Bergeron Spark Bruins to OT Win

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON - For the second time in three games, Brad Marchand was the overtime hero.

His arms stretched up and his smile drew wide, as his Black and Gold teammates left the bench and gathered around him in celebration of of a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Just two games prior, Marchand had lifted Boston to a 3-2 win in Buffalo, scoring the game tying goal and the overtime winner. The winger now has four goals and two assists in his past three games.

After the game, as he was announced as the game's First Star, he skated across the ice and sent an autographed stick up into the stands for a lucky fan. Skating back to the bench, he watched as his game-winner was replayed on the video board above center ice.

The replay showed Marchand flying into the Panthers' zone on a quick regroup, with a touch pass from Dougie Hamilton in the neutral zone.

Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson had started going off for a line change, and Marchand took his open ice over the blueline, blowing past the Florida line of defense, dangling around defenseman Dylan Olsen in the right circle, and roofing one over Robertu Luongo high blocker at 3:27 into the extra frame.

Even he was impressed by the effort, shaking his head and looking up to the fans with a smile.

"He had some great looks, I thought - all night - and we all stayed with it as a line and it was a great play by him on that overtime goal, and great finish," said Patrice Bergeron, who scored the game-tying goal to make it 1-1 in the second period.

When Marchand is on his game like that, his teammates take notice.

"Well, he doesn’t think, he just goes and goes by his instinct," said Tuukka Rask, of the winger's tendency to go on hot streaks.

"Sometimes, when he starts overthinking and then he starts overpassing and pulling the breaks and looking for that late guy coming in, and making turnovers, and then he gets yelled at and then he starts thinking," Rask rattled off.

"When he doesn't think and when he’s really playing direct lines, thinking his shot and driving to the net, it pays off for him and hopefully he keeps doing that."

Marchand's night was trending that way. He and his linemates generated the Bruins' first real chance of the night, crashing the net around Luongo, pouncing on a loose puck, before the whistle blew.

He continued generating chances, putting up six shot attempts (five on goal). Luongo stretched out in a spread eagle to get a right pad on one of Marchand's best bids of the night after the Bruins' winger had helped create a turnover. Those chances continued into overtime.

"I think the confidence part is certainly there," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "You know, he missed a couple of real good opportunities before he even scored - I guess he was just feeling it and it was just a matter of time."

"It’s nice to see him not quit or get discouraged, and found a way to find a nice winning goal for us. But his game’s really come along there in the last week."

Overall, as a team, the Bruins struggled with puck movement all night, but they fought through it. Not every line was going, and David Krejci continues to be sidelined by an undisclosed injury, but they fought through that, too.

"We didn’t have every line going and that’s when we’re kind of weak sometimes, [but] we found a way, we stuck with it and didn’t give them much defensively," said Rask, who stopped 18 of 19 shots in the win.

"Happy for Marchy - he’s been playing great lately."

Jussi Jokinen put Florida on the board first, at 4:04 into the second period, but Bergeron knotted the game at 1-1 just 3:25 later.

The center went in hard on the forecheck and forced the puck up the wall, where Marchand and Reilly Smith were there to pinch it off and pop the puck out to the middle. Bergeron twisted around inside the left circle and fired it into the top right corner over Luongo's glove.

"I thought Reilly hunted the puck and hunted the defensman to turn it over, and Brad made a great pass to me, and I was lucky enough to be at that spot," said Bergeron.

"I just tried to jump on him as quick as possible," said Smith. "Brad came over and helped me pretty quick. I don’t even know if Patrice knew where the net is, but it’s just kind of a Patrice play where somehow it goes in and he’s doing the right thing and he’s in the right spot at the right time."

Bergeron's equalizer helped change the pace of the game, after battling through a stifling Florida defense.

"It was pretty discouraging at that point because we just couldn’t get anything going from moving the puck to having any kind of flow, so that goal gave us a little bit of life," Julien said.

"You know, those are the things we have to do to win, the dirty things - play simple, play hard, play within the system and it works," said Marchand. "It shows, and that's why we won."

Prior to Tuesday night's game, Julien had been complimentary of Marchand's uptick in play in helping the team's turnaround.

"I think a lot of it is our veteran players have really taken charge of the situation, and you just have to look at March, for example, he's got three goals in the last two games, or he's up to four now I think, so you know, he’s picked up his game," Julien had said.

Marchand had three goals in two games heading into the matchup against Florida. Preemptively, maybe Julien knew he'd get up to four by the end of the night.

"I think tonight was real big step forward for us," Marchand said of his line with Bergeron and Smith. "We played with a lot more confidence than we have in the past number of games, and it seems like we're able to make plays now and hold onto it."

"I think that's one thing we weren't doing very well early on, and we were throwing it away a lot and weren't supporting each other very well, but our legs seem to be under us and we seem to be more confident with the puck and we felt really good."

Bergeron combined with Marchand for 16 shot attempts, with 11 hitting the mark, and two finding their way past Luongo.

Their patience with the puck has been paying off. It's only a matter of time before Smith joins in on the production.

"You’ll take any confidence booster you can," Smith said. "I’ll try to help out a little more than I have, I guess, in the goal scoring column. But when they’re playing great, it’s pretty easy to get them the puck because they seem to do something special with it."

Tuesday night was just a start for the trio.

"I still think they can play even better," Julien said. "I think that whole line, the three of them together, are starting to come around. Two goals from that line tonight, so you can’t complain."

"We have the experience and we know what makes us successful and we just have to go back to doing that," said Bergeron. "Sometimes it takes longer than you would want, but you've got to stay with it, and I thought we did that."

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