Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand has struggled to score goals this season and found himself demoted to the third line to start Thursday night’s road game against the Buffalo Sabres.
The 26-year-old responded with his best performance of the season to help the B’s mount a third-period comeback and secure two much-needed points in a 3-2 overtime win.
With nearly 15 minutes elapsed in the third period, the Bruins tied the score at 2 on Marchand’s first even-strength goal of the season and his second overall. Marchand was a bit fortunate that the puck deflected off his glove and snuck past Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth, but he earned the good luck by driving hard to the net.
The Bruins began overtime with a dominant shift in the attacking zone. They fired several shots at Enroth and maintained puck possession with good passing and a strong cycle game.
Boston won the game when Reilly Smith picked up the puck along the half wall, skated below the goal line and fed a centering pass to Marchand, who ripped a powerful one-timer past Enroth on his glove side.
Marchand was one of the few Bruins forwards who displayed a sense of urgency throughout the game, and his hard work paid off. It’s his first multi-point game of the season and his first three-point effort since Feb. 8 of last season against the Ottawa Senators. Marchand also tallied four shots on goal, was on the ice for all three Bruins goals and helped drive puck possession with a plus-14 Corsi at even strength (second-highest among B’s forwards). [tweet https://twitter.com/NHLBruins/status/528014130272542720 align=”center”]
After scoring 25 goals during the 2013-14 regular season, Marchand failed to tally once in 12 playoff games. He went seven games into the 2014-15 campaign without finding the back of the net, and he entered Thursday’s game with one goal in his last 23 games dating to last season.
The Bruins’ offense has lacked balance for most of the season, and Marchand’s line with Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith has been one of the main problems (zero even-strength goals in their last five games entering Thursday). That trio combined for four points (two goals, two assists), eight shots on goal and a combined 75.6 Corsi-for percentage against the Sabres, and all three players were on the ice for the winning goal.
The Bruins need Marchand, Bergeron and Smith to be more consistent offensively while injuries to Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller test the team’s blue line depth and skill. Even though a quality performance against a bad Sabres team isn’t something to be overly excited about, Thursday’s game was a positive step forward for the Bergeron line.
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports Images
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