BOSTON - Brad Marchand knew exactly what he wanted to do if he scored. He was just hoping he'd be able to break it out.
Fortunately for the Bruins, when the game gets to overtime, it's usually a pretty safe bet that Marchand is going to end up celebrating.
With international MMA superstar Conor McGregor in the building to celebrate St. Patrick's Day weekend with the ceremonial puck drop, Marchand potted his 15th career OT goal to lift the Bruins to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night at TD Garden.
And it was what Marchand did after scoring the goal that garnered most of the attention. As his teammates spilled off the bench, the winger broke out into McGregor's patented strut to celebrate snapping the team's three-game losing skid.
"I was hoping to score just to do it. I knew that before the game," said Marchand. "It's not every day you have an icon like that in the room with that presence. I was just having a little fun with it."
Video: CBJ@BOS: Marchand scores OT winner, imitates McGregor
The Bruins clearly had a little extra jump in their step as they returned home after their winless three-game road swing - and had an added bonus when McGregor - taking in his first NHL game - visited the dressing room for a scintillating pregame pep talk.
"He did a nice job for us, came in the room before," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "He's fired up, that guy. He's still fired up. I'm glad we won. He would've come in and probably had his way with us. He had a nice few words for the guys before the game…a little different. You're not used to that. [The] Patriots came in one night. [after winning the Super Bowl]…[the] Red Sox. Mix it up a little bit, so I think it's fun."
Boston fed off that emotion early in the first period, with Bergeron potting his 27th of the season off a feed from Marchand on the power play to open the scoring at 5:51 and end the team's stretch of sleepy starts. Bergeron's goal was the 800th point of his career, while Marchand's helper was his 86th point of the season, a career high.
"We got the lead early, but then they got back in the game," Bergeron said of the Blue Jackets' tying goal with 3:08 remaining in the opening period. "It's one of those games where we knew from the drop of the puck that it was going to be a tight game. They're in [a race] for a playoff spot, obviously, so we knew it was going to be a tough and tight game and that's what we got. "
The contest remained tied at 1 until the 3:30 mark of overtime when Marchand and Bergeron connected once again, with Marchand one-timing Bergeron's backhand feed by Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo for his 15th career OT winner.
"It goes to that chemistry," said Bergeron, who like Marchand extended his home point streak to 16 games. "We know where each other is going to be on the ice, mostly, at all times. I knew he was going to try and open up on that one and I tried to find him. You could tell that I think that they were a little bit tired and that's what happens in overtime.
"It's not easy when your shift gets extended and it's only 3-on-3, so things are opened up and we found a way and we got the bounce. We'll take it."
Video: CBJ@BOS: Conor McGregor drops the ceremonial puck
That the Bruins will. After three straight losses, Boston's lead over Toronto for second place in the Atlantic Division had dwindled to just 2 points. But the victory over the Blue Jackets, coupled with Toronto's loss to Ottawa, bumped their advantage back up to 4 points.
"We had some tough schedules and travels, but that's not an excuse," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "Tonight we found a way to win. That's what we're going to have to count on. The last 10 games are going to be close and very tight. Teams are obviously playing hard and battling for every point for better playoff positions. We have to be really ready to play these types of games."
After surrendering four goals or more in each of their last three games, the Bruins were pleased with a much tighter defensive effort, as well as a solid 24-save performance from Jaroslav Halak, which propelled them to their 11th straight victory on home ice.
"It was important for us to come home and win a game," said Halak. "For the most part we managed the puck well, we skated hard, we did some good decisions with the puck. Obviously, I'm happy with the 2 points, with the win."
And so was their special visitor.
"He's an incredible guy," Marchand said of McGregor. "Very energetic, but he was humble. He was very happy to be here, he expressed that. He was very engaged with everyone. He was a great person. It was an honor to meet him. It was great to have him here. The whole city enjoyed it, we enjoyed it. It's something we will remember."
Video: Marchand's OT winner propels Bruins past Blue Jackets