BOSTON – The Bruins knew the first goal in Monday's Game 6 would be important. They just had no idea how important it would be.
Brad Marchand, who is having quite the postseason campaign for a rookie, scored the just 5:31 into the period on a semi-breakaway, his wrist shot eluding the waving glove hand of Roberto Luongo. Three minutes and four seconds later, Luongo was on the bench after allowing three goals during a seven-shot barrage.
"You know, it was a huge goal he scored and he emotionally kept on driving for us," said Boston veteran forward Mark Recchi, Marchand's linemate.
Luongo's replacement, Cory Schneider, allowed a goal on the second shot he faced and Boston had a four-goal lead before the game was 10 minutes old. From there, the Bruins cruised to a 5-2 victory and forced a Game 7 on Wednesday in Vancouver.
None of it, however, might have happened if Marchand did not stand and deliver on just the second shift of his night.
"Great goal, great shot," said first-line winger Rich Peverley. "When you see a guy like that go in and score, you want to get that next one, and I think everyone did a good job of bringing the energy level."
Actually, on the Marchand goal, everyone did their job to perfection.
Vancouver had controlled much of the first four minutes, keeping the puck pinned in the Boston zone and taking the TD Garden crowd out of the game at the start.
In fact, the Marchand goal started with Vancouver pressuring the Boston defense again. Only, this time, Dennis Seidenberg – a true warrior throughout this series for Boston – started a counter-attack by passing the puck to Recchi just before he took a hit from Daniel Sedin.
Recchi, who finished the game with three assists and has had quite the resurgence since scoring on the power play in Game 2 of this series, used a nifty little chip off the boards to get the puck past Christian Ehrhoff and into space just inside the Vancouver blue line.
From there, it was all Marchand. The rookie used his speed to get behind the defense and claim the puck. Then, he cut to his left and fired a wrister that eluded the glove hand of Luongo at the 5:31 mark.
"Well I mean I was there," said Luongo, who stopped just 5 of 8 shots before being pulled. "It was a good shot; but at the same time I got to make that save. I mean, he put it where he wanted it, but you know I got to make a save there."
For the Bruins, Marchand's contributions on the score sheet have become common place.
The first-period goal is his ninth goal of the postseason and 16th point, which is a Bruins record for points in a playoff season by a first-year player. The nine goals made him the fifth rookie in playoff history with as many as nine goals in a single postseason. He also became the 11th rookie with as many as 16 points in one playoff year.
"He's been a big part of our team taking that step to get to this point," Boston forward Milan Lucic said. "He's had a lot of big goals and when he plays with that edge like he's played with all season long, you know, he needs to bring that next game."