Celtics

Haggerty: Marchand finds offense, attitude just in time

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Haggerty: Marchand finds offense, attitude just in time

ST. LOUIS Brad Marchand knew it had been a long stretch since he had scored a goal (six games, actually) or been a physical factor (the Montreal game at the start of the road trip).

So he was bound and determined to become the dogged pain in the rump that he is when both player and team are doing well, and it worked to the tune of a two-goal performance in Bostons 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center Wednesday night.

When your team isnt winning like they can, you put a lot of pressure on yourself to score, said Marchand. I hadnt had a goal in a while and that was one of the longer slumps Ive had recently. It was nice to get the monkey off my back.

Marchand opened and closed the scoring for the Bruins with goals, and was once again the tone-setting force.

Its what you needed from your best players and the guys that can score, said coach Claude Julien of Marchand. Marchand is a guy thats pretty competitive and pretty proud. He takes things to heart, and I like the way he played and the way he competed.

It just goes to show that when our guys put their minds to it and theyre determined to be the hardest-working team out there, then they give us a pretty good chance.

Marchand has also passed Tyler Seguin in goals scored; he now has 21 to Seguin's 20. He showed his quickness, tenacity and skill when he stripped Kevin Shattenkirk of the puck near the defensive blue line, proceeded to move in all alone toward the net and then sizzled a snap-shot over Brian Elliotts shoulder 2:29 into the game.

Getting that first goal for our team lately has been really big. Usually when the other team scores against us first we let up a bit, said Marchand. Thats how we have to keep playing and trying to get that first goal early.

We played tight and we played a good game. We came up big when we had to and thats how we play our game.

That gave the Bruins the start they needed after falling behind early in many of their recent disappointing games, and handed Marchand the kind of jump he needed. He was even able to shake off a borderline first period leg check from St. Louis captain David Backes that appeared to make painful contact with his knee. There was no penalty call in a game that featured only one power play apiece for a pair of physical teams, but that didnt matter.

Instead of complaining to the referees or looking for a call there, Marchand simply left it behind and kept focusing on the action on the ice. His line and the reconfigured Milan LucicDavid KrejciChris Kelly trio carried the play and the offensive production, and Marchand Nose Face Killed the Blues with a third period insurance goal that effectively closed the door.

With the Bruins clinging to a 3-2 lead during a strong final 20 minutes, Marchand raced toward the offensive zone once Patrice Bergeron had won a loose puck battle in the defensive zone. Bergeron got the puck to Seguin, and the 20-year-old sophomore zinged a long stretch pass to a streaking Marchand for a breakaway chance against Elliott.

Rather than go upstairs as he had earlier in the game, Marchand opted for a forehand fake before tucking the puck between Elliotts outstretched pads in classic five-hole fashion. The goal represented needed victory for the Black and Gold, but it also allowed Marchand to shoot past both Seguin and Lucic for sole possession of the Bs goal-scoring lead.

In the entire hubbub about Marchands antics and borderline hits, some can pretty easily forget that hes also a damned good offensive hockey player.

Marchand gave a healthy reminder of that on Wednesdays win and how closely linked his personal success and the teams triumphs are in the grand scheme of things.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE