BOSTON -- Brad Marchand is a big-game player, and he delivered in a major way this weekend to help the Bruins tie their first-round playoff series against the Hurricanes at two wins apiece.
The NHL's best all-around left winger scored the go-ahead goal in Game 3 -- his first 5-on-5 tally since April 2 -- to help the Bruins win 4-2. He was even more impressive in Sunday afternoon's Game 4, posting five points (two goals, three assists) in a dominant effort en route to a 5-2 victory, despite the B's not having their top two defensemen -- Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm -- in the lineup.
"We talk about character -- he's got a letter on his sweater for a reason," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Marchand. "He's a battler. He's been a competitive guy his whole life. He's not going to get down too long. This is the time of year he loves to play. He's shown that.
"Now you're at home and you've got the crowd behind you that's pushing you. You've got some animosity, now we're in Game 3 and 4, there's some chirping going on now, too, and that I think can elevate his game as well. It's bright lights time, and I think Marshy has always been pretty good with that, and tonight it worked out really well for him."
Marchand played a key role in four of the Bruins' five goals.
It started when Patrice Bergeron evened the score 1-1 with a goal late in the first period. Marchand picked up an assist on the play. He tallied another assist on Jake DeBrusk's power-play tally late in the second period, too, which was one of the most pivotal moments in the game.
The Bruins opened the third period with a 5-on-3 power play. It was a massive opportunity for the B's to cash in and take the lead, especially after they failed to convert on a 5-on-3 advantage earlier in the afternoon.
Marchand took charge and fired a laser of a shot past Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta 44 seconds into the period to give Boston a 3-2 advantage.
For the second straight game, Marchand scored to give the Bruins the lead. But he wasn't done after putting Boston ahead for the first time Sunday.
He picked up a primary helper on David Pastrnak's goal in the third period that increased Boston's lead to 4-2. It was a perfectly executed set play off the faceoff win by Bergeron.
Marchand had only one assist (on the power play) with just two shots on net at 5-on-5 over the first two games in Carolina. The Bruins lost both matchups by a combined score of 10-3 to fall into an 0-2 series hole.
The B's needed a much, much better performance from their top forwards, especially Marchand, after he led the team in scoring with 80 points in 70 games during the regular season.
Marchand answered the challenge with eight points (three goals, five assists), six shots on net and tremendous production on both the power play (three points) and the penalty kill over the last two games. He's the primary reason why the B's are going back to PNC Arena with a chance to take a 3-2 series lead Tuesday night.
"We're playing for our season. It's really tough when you lose guys like (McAvoy and Lindholm), they're great players and play big minutes, but it doesn't mean you can roll over and fold," Marchand said.
"There's a lot of pride in the (locker) room, a lot of character. We've always shown that. Luckily we were able to pull out a couple wins. But regardless of how the next game plays out, we have to make sure we're prepared. They're going to come out hard."