BOSTON - There are plenty of players in the National Hockey League that are hard to move off the puck. But there are not many that can combine that strength with skill and agility.
The Bruins are fortunate enough to have one of the very best at blending those attributes together - as evidenced by the display Brad Marchand put forth in overtime on Saturday night.
"It's not only his strength," said David Backes. "It's that you can't go right at him and try to get a piece of him because he's so shifty and you miss him and he's by you and he's dangerous with the puck. He is strong on it, but he's got all those capabilities to make you look foolish and capitalize on his chance and that's what makes him great and that's why he's made a ton of great plays.
"When you get him three-on-three out there, he's even more dangerous with a bit more ice to get going, make you miss, and a lot more wind to make his move."
Montreal forward Jonthan Drouin found that out the hard way.
Despite having landed just one shot on goal in the previous 62 minutes, Boston's No. 1 left winger was a dominant force in the extra session. Marchand started his overtime takeover by picking up the loose puck in the corner, before spinning off Drouin along the boards.
Marchand then turned the net and whipped a shot on goal from the slot. The puck fluttered under the arm of Canadiens goalie Antti Niemi and propelled the Bruins to a thrilling 2-1 win over their rivals at TD Garden.
"When I circled around I saw the net front guy kind of back off a little bit," said Marchand, whose goal was his 25th of the season. "I knew as long as I got it on the inside it was my guy that would have a chance at the net, and when I came around I just wasn't so tight, just tried to get a shot and luckily it went in."
Video: MTL@BOS: Marchand wrists home OT winner from the slot
After starting the year 1-6 in the extra session, the Bruins have now won three straight overtime games over the last two weeks, with two of the winners coming from Marchand.
"Having the puck helps," said Cassidy. "I think we did a good job puck possession. Listen, it was one of those games that we had the puck around their net so much that I can't remember if they had a chance in overtime right now…I think guys are understanding the value of puck possession, maybe more now that we've dug it out of our net earlier in the year in these overtimes, so they're taking it to heart."
The overtime winner was made possible by Jake DeBrusk's tying tally with 2:45 to play in regulation. Following a frustrating night on the power play, which started 0 for 5, Boston finally broke through on its final man advantage of the contest.
Nick Holden took a Torey Krug feed and delivered a slap pass to DeBrusk in the slot, where the rookie tipped it by Niemi to knot the game at 1.
"We had a handful of power plays there that we got some decent looks just weren't connecting," said DeBrusk. "I think it was just a matter of timing in the game, I think it was just late in the game we wanted to get pucks to the net.
"I think one of their guys accidentally dropped their stick or had a stick broken, you've got to take advantage of that and obviously it was nice to cash in."
Video: MTL@BOS: DeBrusk scores on power play to tie game
It was Boston's second power-play unit that busted through for the goal. The group has been pieced together over the last two games, but has now delivered three goals in that span. Newcomers Holden and Brian Gionta have been valuable additions to the quintet, which also included David Krejci and Danton Heinen.
"It's a newer one put together, obviously, with Holden and Gionta, little more of a spread look where we're moving around the perimeter trying to stretch the other team out, then get some shots and second chances," Cassidy said of the unit which also struck for two goals against Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
"It was frustrating with the power play, because we had a lot of them, and tonight's that night we needed it. So, it took a while but we got it done."
Video: Marchand reacts after OT winner
With Charlie McAvoy sidelined by an injury on the game's first shift, Krug saw time on the second unit and picked up the secondary assist on the tying goal.
"It's one of the things he obviously does best, and without Charlie, we used Danton Heinen up there," said Cassidy. "We can always use Zee, and that was a thought process, but now you're putting a lot on his plate playing with five D. So, we gave it to Torey, and he ended up making a play to Holden. Holden is good on it. He gets pucks to the net. He gets it through. He's got this ability to find that shooting lane and do it in a hurry."
McAvoy played just 37 seconds before leaving for the night with a lower-body injury. It was not clear exactly how the injury occurred, but the rookie blue liner appeared to be tripped down by Brendan Gallagher on the first shift of the game. Cassidy had no update following the game.
"Tomorrow is a scheduled day off, so everyone will be off, and Monday we will have a better idea of where he's at, so right now, that's all I've got," said Cassidy. "All I looked at was it real quick on the bench. I haven't seen it since….I don't have a good answer to that, to be honest, but it won't be too hard to find out because he was out there for 37 seconds, so by the time we go through it.
"Hopefully it's not serious. It didn't look serious at the time, but I don't really know."
Video: DeBrusk, Marchand lead Bruins to comeback win in OT