A hot-and-cold, young season was damn close to hitting its low point Sunday night when the Bruins found themselves trailing to the Pacific-worst Canucks through 40 minutes of action.
That was until Brad Marchand went into takeover mode and led the charge, with the game-tying power-play goal and the primary feed on David Pastrnak’s go-ahead power-play strike, in a 3-2 final at TD Garden.
David Pastrnak gives the Bruins the lead.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) November 29, 2021
Brad Marchand with a great move to set up the tally. pic.twitter.com/rRM724Jaws
For Marchand, the go-ahead goal was sparked by the crafty wing shaking off Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs with a little shimmy and opening the ice up for No. 88.
“I knew Pasta was going to be around there,” Marchand said. “We’ve scored a few goals over the years with that play. He’s so good at finding that hole. Foligno did a great job tying up a D’s stick in front and giving me a lane.”
And on the game-tying goal, that was simply Marchand going from 0-to-63 in the blink of an eye when he noticed that the puck was still alive and untouched after near-goals from Pastrnak, Foligno, and Patrice Bergeron at the front of the net.
But Marchand’s work began in that sluggish middle frame, when he decked the Canucks’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tucker Poolman late in the period amid the coaching staff’s demand for some more pop against a seemingly vulnerable opponent.
“Real good job on his part with the physicality,” Cassidy said. “The second period was starting to get away from us a little bit, and Marchand went out and had a couple of solid hits and now it snowballs a little bit and now other guys are doing it. He can help you win in a lot of ways. We saw it offensively, and we’ve been seeing it on the power play and penalty kill here for years. Physical part was good, and that’s where you hope other guys [notice]. It’s like, ‘Listen, he’s our best player, plays the most minutes out of any of our forwards.’ You’d hope it rubs off on other guys, and that’s what you’d hope at the end of the day.”
“When things aren’t going your way, you need to create energy,” Marchand said. “Sometimes we gotta continue to rely on the system, and hits don’t always present themselves, but a few happened to in that period.”
Down early in the first period on a Tanner Pearson power-play goal that looked entirely too easy for Vancouver (and way too ugly for the Bruins), the Bruins matched the Canucks and entered the first intermission tied at one when Anton Blidh went full Alex Ovechkin mode and beat the Canucks’ Jaroslav Halak on a tremendous solo effort just 2:18 later.
Is Anton Blidh the top-six sniper that the Bruins have been looking for?— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) November 29, 2021
My column: pic.twitter.com/A9nHHo3nEN
And that tie through 20 minutes only held as a result of a successful challenge from the Bruins, which denied Conor Garland a would-be go-ahead goal when a replay showed that Nils Hoglander had both skates offside prior to the zone entry.
But Garland ultimately found the back of the net in his Boston homecoming, with the second-period goal that beat Ullmark.
Ullmark rebounded from the leaky-looking goal in a major way, too, as he came through with a game-changing stop on a shorthanded breakaway bid from the Canucks’ Tyler Motte.
“When you judge goaltenders, it’s timely saves, and that [save on Motte] was huge,” Cassidy said. “If he doesn’t make that save, I don’t know if we win the game. At the end of the day, there was some good saves, and that was a huge one that gave us a chance.”
Ullmark finished with a 36-of-38 line in net and his fifth victory in a B’s uniform.
The win came at a price for the B’s, as Blidh was knocked out of commission in the third period on a boarding from Ekman-Larsson. Speaking after the win, Cassidy said that it’s an upper-body injury for Blidh, but noted that it’s not a concussion. It’s worth noting that Blidh grabbed at his shoulder when he got up to his feet and made his way down the tunnel.
Up front, Jake DeBrusk and Erik Haula sat out as healthy scratches in a message-sending move by Cassidy, and were joined by defenseman Connor Clifton, who was scratched for his fifth straight contest.
The Bruins will wrap up their three-game homestand Tuesday night against the Red Wings.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.