Marchand helped the Black & Gold finally chase Ben Bishop from his crease 10 seconds into extra time, as they shut out the Lightning 1-0 on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena.
Patrice Bergeron flew down the right wing in transition after a quick up from Torey Krug and fed Marchand for the tap-in backdoor to mark his 34th goal of the season.
“I knew if I got to the net Bergy would find me — and he does all the time,” smiled Marchand.
“It was a great transition by Torey, and we talked about it before overtime — to try to catch them flat-footed like that,” said Bergeron. “When I got the puck, I knew that Marchy was going to try to beat his guy and be open backdoor, so I was trying to just to lay it there for him.”
“Fun to not be the defender that’s having to play against them,” laughed John-Michael Liles, who has always been on the other side of the duo.
The victory capped off a back-to-back Florida sweep for the Bruins, who tied the Lightning for first in the Atlantic Division with 83 points, even if the Bolts have a a game hand.
“It’s great to see the results,” said Bergeron. “That’s what you’re playing for, to get the results, and learn from past mistakes and to grow as a team and I think we’ve been doing that.”
Not only did the Bruins pick up four points against divisional rivals Tampa Bay and Florida — they previously picked up three of four points against two of the NHL’s top teams in Chicago and Washington.
“We have 14 games left. We have some more work to do, but at the same time, I think at this time of the year, we’re starting to see some good things happening,” said Bergeron. “And we’ve got to keep growing as a team in all areas of the game.”
“It will never be perfect,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “You can talk to any coach in this league — it doesn’t matter how many points we get, we always look for our team to be better.”
“So it wasn’t perfect, but I think overall when you manage to get that many points against good teams like that, you’ve got to be happy.”
While Bishop pulled out his usual strong performance in net for the Lightning, the Bruins got excellent net minding from Jonas Gustavsson, starting his first game since Feb. 22.
Tuukka Rask had made seven straight starts, capping off the stretch with a busy night on Monday, having to make 47 saves in the Bruins’ 5-4 win over Florida.
“He played incredible,” Marchand said of Gustavsson, who made 42 saves for the seventh shutout of his career. “We wouldn’t have won if he didn’t play the way he did.”
“He made a few huge saves especially late in the game and really kept us in it, so this one is definitely all him.”
Gustavsson was solid in the first period, but showed his best work in the middle of the second when he robbed Alex Killorn point-blank after sliding right to left to stop the chance with his left pad.
“He was outstanding, I thought,” said Julien. “That big save, as you know, with the pad in the second period and even other saves like that. He was big and they had to be good to beat him tonight and that’s a huge boost for our team when you can put a goaltender like that in a big game and play the way he did.”
The Bruins also had some help from the iron behind Gustavsson, with Cedric Paquette, Ryan Callahan and Nikita Kucherov all hitting the post.
The end of the second was fast and furious, with end-to-end action. That continued into the third period, where the Bruins were pushed back on their heels. It took them about nine minutes to get their first shot on goal of the period, from Lee Stempniak jamming in front.
Though the Bruins gave up 42 shots, they often kept the Lightning to the outside and were strong down low clearing rebounds away. The NHL’s best road penalty kill also came up with four strong kills.
“We wanted to bounce back from [Monday] night, especially defensively and I thought we did that,” said Bergeron. “Obviously we gave them a lot of shots and a lot of them from the outside and we found a way. This time of year, that’s what you want and especially against teams like we’ve been playing, so it does give us some confidence going forward.”
The Bruins have now won four of their past five games and picked up nine of 10 points since the NHL’s trade deadline on Feb. 29.
“I think it’s made a huge difference, bringing Stempniak in and Liles,” said Julien. “Stabilizes areas where we thought we needed to kind of stabilize and slot players in other areas there that they’re able to be even better for us.”
“It’s just kind of, I guess, the puzzle is falling together here and coming along well in the areas that we want it to and I think right now we have to be happy with what we’re doing. I think the players are feeling it as well.”
“We just needed a little bit of time to grow and come together,” said Marchand. “You need time to come together and gel and find out how each other plays and build some chemistry on each line and I think we’ve done that.”
“We’ve done a good job with that and now we are playing good hockey and we’re not playing our best every night, but we’re playing well enough to win. We’ve had a few really good games and that’s what we need right now.”
“We’re playing the way we should be and we have to continue to do that.”