Just over a month ago, people were wondering what was wrong with Brad Marchand, as he was mired in a season-long slump, scoring just five goals in his first 35 games. Now people are wondering how much longer Marchand's hot streak is going to last.
Marchand struck for a goal and three assists, while equally-hot linemates Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith each added a goal and an assist as the Boston Bruins continued its recent strong offensive play with a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders on Monday night. Loui Eriksson, Carl Soderberg, and Zdeno Chara also scored for the Bruins, who have taken points in each of their last five games (4-0-1). Chad Johnson made 34 saves on the night for the Bruins to pick up his ninth win in 12 starts this season.
The Bruins started out at a frantic pace in the first 12 minutes of the game, outshooting the Islanders 18-2 while spending most of the time buzzing around the New York end. One of those 18 shots on goal was Loui Eriksson's first goal in his last 12 games, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 7:47 gone in the period. Daniel Paille and Torey Krug assisted Eriksson's sixth goal of the year.
The tide turned after a questionable penalty call on Bruins' defenseman Johnny Boychuk, as he was called for interference as soon as he came on the ice for a line change. Once the Islanders got on the power play, they swung momentum in their favor, with four shots on net during the two minutes with the man advantage. They ended the period taking the last ten shots on goal, shutting the B's out for the final eight minutes of the first. They tied the game up at 1-1 with a quick wrist shot goal scored by Frans Nielsen, with Kyle Okposo (who along with Marchand is one of the hottest players in the NHL) notching his 33rd assist of the year.
The hot second line struck for its first goal of the night with just under five minutes gone in the second period to give the Bruins the lead. After a clean faceoff win by Bergeron, the puck was quickly moved to Smith. Smith found Bergeron, who then made a slick pass to a wide open Marchand, who had moved to the right side of Islanders' goalie Kevin Poulin. Poulin had no chance to stop Marchand from burying his 17th goal of the year to give Boston a 2-1 lead.
The Islanders struck back with a goal three and a half minutes later, with Michael Grabner notching his ninth goal of the year and Kyle Okposo getting another assist on the play.
Just four minutes later, the second line struck again. With a delayed penalty being called on the Islanders, Chad Johnson headed for the bench, giving the Bruins an extra skater until the Isles gained control of the puck. Shawn Thornton took the puck and used a hard pass to find a streaking Reilly Smith for an open goal past Poulin. The goal was Smith's 17th on the season, tying him with Marchand for the team lead.
Okposo tied the game at 3-3 just three minutes later, tallying his 23rd goal and grabbing his third point of the night. Michael Grabner was awarded the lone assist, giving him a multiple point night as well.
With just 33 seconds left in the period, the Bruins were able to take the lead for good. After a shot block by Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic took the puck and skated up ice, finding Carl Soderberg cross-ice. Soderberg accelerated past an Islanders defenseman and beat Poulin with an impressive move for the eventual game winning goal.
Patrice Bergeron added a highlight reel goal with just over two minutes gone in the third period. As Bergeron came out of the penalty box, he jumped into a play with Jarome Iginla. After Iginla's stick broke on a slap shot attempt, Bergeron was able to grab the loose puck and find Marchand. He then worked his way to the middle of the ice, taking Marchand's pass and rifling it past Poulin just before getting taken down to the ice by two Isles defenders.
Zdeno Chara rounded out the scoring with his 12th goal of the season, as Marchand notched his third assist and fourth point of the night. The goal gave Chara 500 career points in the NHL, with 325 of those points coming during his tenure with the Boston Bruins.
The B's are right back at it on Tuesday night facing the Florida Panthers and former Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.