A sleepy 37 minutes and change of hockey between the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins came to a sudden end on Saturday night when Brad Marchand decided to do some Brad Marchand things.
With the Bruins on the wrong end of countless big hits and post-whistle fun from the Red Wings — David Krejci was nearly taken out at center ice on a massive hit by Luke Witkowski, leaving Joakim Nordstrom to fight that battle by way of his first fight of the year — Marchand went in hard on the forecheck and landed a clean hit against the Wings’ Nick Jensen.
Tyler Bertuzzi, who put the Red Wings on the board to tie the game up at 1-1 earlier in the period, took exception to that and begin to chase Marchand around in search of retribution.
Marchand had no interest in entertaining such a scrap, and tried brushing Bertuzzi off, cross-checks and all. But as Jimmy Howard attempted to make his way to the Detroit bench on a delayed penalty upon Colby Cave’s involvement in the Marchand-Bertuzzi scrum, Marchand decided to say hello to Howard with a slash to his stick.
This set everything and everybody off, with even Tuukka Rask trying to join the fray with a fight of his own. A fight that was for some reason not allowed by the on-ice officials.
But even as TD Garden came to life, the energy of that six-on-six trouble was not enough to propel the Bruins to victory, as the teams traded power-play goals before Frans Nielsen deflected the game-winner with just 8:07 left in the third period of a 4-2 final.
Rask continued his recent comeback in the Boston crease, finishing his night with 22 saves on 25 shots, with two of the three goals that beat him coming off no-chance deflections through traffic.
But he could not match Howard, who finished his eventful night with 37 saves, just three away shy of his season-high.
David Backes put the Bruins on the board with 3.8 seconds left in the first period (and for just his second goal this season) on a bizarre backhander along the boards that pinballed in front of the Detroit net and went through Howard. Ryan Donato scored his second goal of the year on a third-period power-play snipe that beat Howard cleanly.
The Bruins will get back at it Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers.