Nick Goss

Brad Marchand's historic performance powers Bruins to Game 3 win

Marchand positively impacted Game 3 in an abundance of ways for the Bruins.

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When the Boston Bruins needed it most, their captain stepped up and delivered a great performance in the clutch.

Game 3 of the first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night could have gone either way. The two teams exchanged one-goal leads a couple times in a hard-fought contest that saw a combined eight penalties, 133 hits and 42 blocked shots.

It was a classic playoff matchup between two rivals that don't like each other one bit.

The game was there to be won in the third period, and that's when Marchand took control with two goals and one assist over the final 20 minutes of action to carry the Bruins to a 4-2 victory.

"That's a leader. That's our leader. He's a captain through and through," Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman told reporters postgame. "He doesn't take no for an answer. He leads by example. He's the pinnacle of what a captain should be and we're so lucky to have him in this room."

The first point came on Jake DeBrusk's power-play goal 67 into the third period. The power play has been a huge weapon for the Bruins through three games, and Marchand has factored into all five of Boston's tallies (one goal, four assists) with the man advantage.

The Leafs, to their credit, didn't go away in the third period. They kept attacking and finally equalized when Tyler Bertuzzi evened the score at two with a deflection at 11:25 of the frame. It didn't take Boston long to regain the lead -- just 28 seconds, in fact -- thanks to Marchand.

On the very next shift, the Bruins captain took a pass from Danton Heinen and fired a perfect shot above Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov's left shoulder and into the net, giving his team a 3-2 advantage.

Marchand didn't just contribute offensively in Game 3. He also played 4:14 on the penalty kill, a unit that went a perfect 5-of-5 against the star-studded Leafs power play. This advantage on special teams played a massive role in the outcome of the game, and Marchand made a huge difference with two power-play points (one goal, one assist) and excellent defense on the penalty kill.

It was a typical two-way performance by one of the best all-around left wings of the 21st century.

"His play, that's one, chipping in and scoring. Battling, just not backing down, and his leadership on the bench, too," Bruins center Charlie Coyle told reporters when asked about Marchand, per the NESN broadcast.

"The way he talks and the way he keeps us engaged and what we need to do in that given situation, whatever it calls for. He's always on top of that. It goes beyond his play on the ice, which was exceptional tonight. It's on the bench and in the locker room, his all-around leadership and character."

Another way Marchand impacted the game that won't get noticed on the scoresheet is him getting under the Leafs' skin. He got tangled up with Leafs forward Tyler Bertuzzi on several occasions. He played physical, annoyed the heck out of Toronto but never once crossed the line and got penalized. Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe couldn't resist complaining about Marchand's antics after his team's defeat.

"He's a world-class player, both in ability and how he plays -- the gamesmanship and everything. It's world class," Keefe told reporters.

"He's been in the league long enough. As you can see, he gets calls. It's unbelievable, actually, how it goes. We gotta play through that. You've got to play through that stuff. I don't think there's another player in this series who gets away with taking out Bertuzzi's legs the way that he does. There's not one other player in this series who gets away with that, but he does. It's an art and he's elite at it."

Marchand also made Bruins history in multiple ways during Game 3.

His two goals moved him into a first-place tie with Cam Neely on the Bruins' all-time playoff goals leaderboard with 55. He moved past Neely for the most game-winning playoff goals in team history with 12. Marchand also moved past his old linemate, Patrice Bergeron, for the second-most playoff assists in B's history with 79.

Even at age 35, Marchand remains fully capable of putting the Bruins on his back and carrying them to playoff victories. He has tallied 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) in his last 15 postseason games. Marchand made his playoff debut in 2011. Only one player -- Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov (162 points) -- has posted more playoff points than Marchand (134) during that span.

These milestones and stats are a great example of how productive Marchand has been in clutch moments, and why he will forever hold a special place in this Original Six franchise's history.

The Bruins deserved to win Game 3, but there were large stretches of the game --particularly in the first and second periods -- where the Leafs were the better team and had the momentum. Even in the third period after Bertuzzi's tying goal, it felt like the Leafs would ride the energy of the crowd to a second consecutive victory in the series.

But Marchand wasn't having any of that. He has an enormous amount of playoff experience. He's been in these kinds of high-pressure moments many times in the last 15 years. He stepped up at the perfect time and delivered an elite postseason performance to help the Bruins regain control of the series and take back the home ice advantage.

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