In need of a win to keep pace in the crowded Atlantic Division standings, the Boston Bruins answered the bell Saturday afternoon with a nice 5-2 road victory over the New Jersey Devils in Newark.
Brad Marchand scored twice -- his 50th career two-goal game -- for the Bruins (7-5) and Jeremy Swayman turned aside 27 shots, enough for the B's to earn just their second road win of the season against a decent Devils team (7-4-2).
Patrice Bergeron added an insurance goal late for Boston before a Jake DeBrusk empty netter; earlier on, Erik Haula finally found the back of the net for the for the Bruins after 11 scoreless contests to begin his career in black and gold.
Here are some other takeaways from the win for Boston at the Prudential Center:
1) Marchand producing at MVP level
The Bruins likely saw the eventual Hart Trophy winner on Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers -- whether it's Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl to be determined -- but Marchand is on a torrid scoring pace of his own to begin the 2021-22 campaign.
The 33-year-old winger now has eight goals in 12 games, an 82-game pace of 55, to go along with 18 points, an 82-game rate of 123.
Before you say those numbers aren't sustainable...Marchand reached 100 points (36 goals, 64 assists) in the last full season uninterrupted by the pandemic in 2018-19. In the meantime, he had 87 points in 70 games in 2019-20 -- a full-season pace of nearly 102 points -- and 69 points in 53 contests last season, an 82-game rate of just under 107.
Marchand is currently fourth in the NHL in points per game, at 1.67, behind only the Edmonton stars and one Alex Ovechkin.
It's not a stretch to say that Marchand, who recently moved past David Krejci for eighth on the Bruins all-time scoring list, is Boston's best skater.
2) Swayman the stabilizer
That's now three straight wins for Swayman, who has allowed two goals or less in five of his six starts this season.
What's more, Swayman has won each of his last two games following starts by Linus Ullmark, both losses for the Bruins.
No one will ever confuse the Devils team Boston saw Saturday with the Oilers squad Ullmark faced Thursday in terms of firepower, but it's hard to ignore Swayman's stopper abilities of late.
3) McAvoy quietly coming on
The franchise blueliner matched a career-high with three assists, dishing out the helpers on each of Marchand's tallies as well as Bergeron's. He finished as a game-best plus-4 for Boston, matching the best rating of his career.
After tallying just two points over the first six games of the season for the Bruins, McAvoy has a goal and seven assists for eight points over their last six games.
When McAvoy finds the scoresheet, Boston is 4-0 over its last six games and 0-2 when he doesn't. The more McAvoy is involved in the offensive end, the better for a Bruins team that's still struggling to produce on offense outside of the Perfection Line.
It's a quick turnaround for the Bruins, who are back in Boston tomorrow night for their first game against the Montreal Canadiens since Feb. 12, 2020