TORONTO - The Bruins knew they were in for a fight on Sunday afternoon.
If their season was to live on another day, their best effort of the series was required - which is certainly no easy task with everything on the line in enemy territory.
Fortunately, the Bruins had Brad Marchand on their side of the ring in Game 6.
Marchand pulled no punches with the Bruins on the brink, notching two goals and an assist to lead Boston to a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.
"I think he thrives in those kind of situations," said Tuukka Rask, who made 22 saves to help force a decisive seventh game back in Boston on Tuesday night. "He takes pride in the leadership role that he has on our team, on and off the ice. He really wants to go out there and be a leader."
That he was.
Both of Marchand's goals exemplified exactly the kind of commitment required to stave off elimination. On each tally, the winger had to maneuver through traffic and fend off Toronto defenders to win away loose pucks - the first in the midst of a faceoff scrum and the second with the Maple Leafs, their net empty, pushing for the equalizer.
"He's gonna step up," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "You can tell, if you're around players long enough, when they've got that little extra. Clearly he's not ready to have it end. I think Tuesday you'll see a lot more of that. That's just who he is, that's how he's become one of the elite players in the league.
"Just look at the empty-net goal. He out-battled, out-willed, one or two guys for that puck. Just typical Marchy. He had to fight to get inside ice on that face-off to get his shot off. He goes to another level. Most of the good ones do this time of year."
Video: Marchand talks to the media after Game 6 Win
After the Bruins fell behind, 1-0, midway through the first period, it was Marchand who got things rolling in the right direction with a power-play marker just under two minutes later. Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff forward, prompting Marchand to push through Mitch Marner and collect the loose puck.
"Bergy did a great job keeping the battle alive there," said Marchand. "When the puck came loose, I figured it was a pretty quick play, just wanted to get it to the net."
Marchand's quick shot clanked off of Toronto defenseman Ron Hainsey and deflected through the five-hole of netminder Frederick Andersen to even the game at 11:23 of the first.
"After that first one we just got together, we knew that there was a lot of game left," said Marchand. "We've got a lot of character in the group and we've shown that all year. We've come from behind a lot this year. We weren't fazed. We came together and played very hard after that."
Video: BOS@TOR, Gm6: Marchand scores off draw on power play
The Bruins clearly received a boost from Marchand's tally, as they outshot Toronto, 14-3, over the next 15-plus minutes of action. Two of the B's shots resulted in goals as Torey Krug (17:02 of the first off a Marchand assist) and Jake DeBrusk (7:57 of the second) added goals to give Boston a 3-1 advantage after 40 minutes.
DeBrusk's goal - which proved to be the winner - was also the result of some dogged determination. The winger, who hadn't scored in the series, charged hard to the net and reached out to fully extend his stick and tip a David Krejci feed by Andersen.
"Everyone was there tonight, everyone had a good game, everyone competed hard and did their job," said Marchand. "[DeBrusk] did a great job, made a great play on that game-winner. He's been big for our group all year. When he's got his confidence and he's hot, he's a very dangerous player. He had a good game tonight, he stepped up in a big way."
Toronto eventually righted the ship, responding on Auston Matthews' fifth goal of the series 4:15 into the third period and continuing to push for much of the final frame. Enter Brad Marchand to deliver the closing blow.
Video: Marchand, Bruins defeat Maple Leafs to force Game 7
With the Leafs' net empty, Marchand took a Zdeno Chara breakout feed and somehow found his way through the charging Morgan Rielly to break free into the neutral zone. With Rielly grabbing onto his stick, Marchand still managed to regain control of the puck and float his second of the night into the open goal to give Boston a 4-2 lead with 1:54 remaining.
"I think we were all up for the game," said Marchand. "When the season's on the line, you want to play hard, you want to leave it all out there. Sometimes it bounces your way, sometimes it doesn't. Luckily today it bounced our way.
"We're playing for our season again next game. You don't know how its gonna play out, but we'll have fun doing it."
Video: BOS@TOR, Gm6: Marchand scores his second on empty net