Brad Marchand, Bruins Enjoy Memorable Night in Philadelphia As Boston Clinches Playoff Spot


March 27, 2011

Brad Marchand, Bruins Enjoy Memorable Night in Philadelphia As Boston Clinches Playoff Spot This is one the Bruins will be able to look back at fondly for many reasons.

Their rally from an early deficit to take a 2-1 victory in Philadelphia on Sunday officially clinched the club's fourth straight playoff berth. And they did it against the team that ended their last playoff run in such horrific fashion with last spring's second-round collapse.

The winning goal came from Brad Marchand, ending a 12-game drought as he reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his young career.

That goal also came on the power play, as did Nathan Horton's second-period tally. That much-maligned unit scored twice on three chances, Boston's first game with multiple power-play goals in more than two months. The Bruins last accomplished that feat 30 games ago with a 2-for-6 night in a 3-2 win at Carolina on Jan. 18.

Tim Thomas reasserted his claim to the Vezina with another sparkling performance, stopping 27 of 28 shots he faced. That included denying Kris Versteeg, a former Bruins prospect who had the Flyers' only goal early in the first, on a clean breakaway in the second, then robbing Andrej Meszaros all alone in front later in the middle frame. After hitting a rare skid when he allowed 14 goals and was 0-2-2 over four starts earlier this month, Thomas is now 3-0-0 with just two goals allowed in his last three games.

The Bruins also further strengthened their hold on the top spot in the Northeast Division, extending their lead on Montreal to seven points with seven games to play. The Habs have just six games left and have been shut out in each of their last three games, including by Thomas on Thursday.

It was exactly the answer the Bruins needed after a disappointing 1-0 home loss to the Rangers on Saturday.

"It's nice. We didn't play all that bad against the Rangers, so we've actually put quite a few pretty decent ones together," Thomas said. "But after you lose, it's always nice to come back with a victory, especially against one of the higher teams in the conference."

Philadelphia remains the top seed in the East. The Flyers are the only team in the conference to reach the 100-point plateau thus far. But Boston ended their nine-game point streak and finishes the season 3-0-1 against Philadelphia, overcoming a slow start for the second straight day.

Boston's late rally in the third wasn't enough against the Rangers, but on Sunday they found their second gear earlier, pulled even on Horton's goal at 7:40 of the second period and won it on Marchand's rebound in front at 16:17 of the third.

"I thought we got better as the game went on," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "The second period was a better period. We knew going into the third period it was important for us to play a real smart game. Play to win but minimize the mistakes, and I thought we did a good job of that."

The Bruins had made some mistakes even into the second, allowing several odd-man breaks. Thomas bailed them out there, and the Bruins put together a better all-around effort to earn the win in the third.

"We wanted to go for the win, we didn't want to sit back and let them bring it to us," Marchand said. "We really got the momentum in the second and we wanted to carry that on to the third. It's a big win for us. We wanted to bounce back and try to get on a roll here. We did a great job tonight."

Marchand earned special praise, edging Thomas for first-star honors with his milestone goal.

"It's a special feeling," Marchand said. "It's been tough, but it's a proud accomplishment. I owe it all to the guys, so it was great."

It was also a long time coming. Marchand hadn't scored Feb. 22 in Calgary, a span of 12 games not including the pair of contests he had to sit out after being suspended for an elbow to the head of Columbus forward R.J. Umberger. That goal against the Flames was a game-winner too, and with Marchand's knack for scoring dramatic goals, the Bruins hope he'll starting filling the nets regularly again now that's he's broken his slump.

"I think we'll see him regain [his scoring touch] even more now that he's scored his 20th," Julien said. "There seemed to be a lot of pressure on him to score his 20th. Hopefully that's a little relief and he'll only get better from here on in."

Veteran Mark Recchi, who's back playing with Marchand opposite Patrice Bergeron after Marchand spent some time on the fourth line in recent games, was happy to see the rookie reach the milestone.

"He was pressing a bit to get that 20th," Recchi said. "And what better way to get it than with a game-winner? He's been a great player for us all year. I'm happy he got it. This was a big win period. We wanted to bounce back after [Saturday]. We had two great wins earlier in the week and we were OK [Saturday] but not like we wanted to be, and we came back and played proper [Sunday]."

Recchi picked up the secondary assist on Marchand's goal, sending the puck out to Dennis Seidenberg for the point shot that Marchand followed up at the top of the crease. With the helper, Recchi tied Paul Coffey for 12th all-time in NHL scoring with 1,531 points.

Just one more accomplishment to add to a memorable night in Philadelphia for the Bruins.

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