The first arms Brad Marchand jumped into were those of Taylor Hall. The puck had just gone in, 39 seconds into overtime to give the Boston Bruins a 4-3 win in Game 2 against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Monday and even the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round.
It was fitting, as the only reason Marchand and the Bruins made it to overtime was because of the doggedness of Hall, whose third-period goal tied the game 3-3 with 2:49 standing between the Bruins and a 2-0 series hole.
“He doesn’t weigh very much,” Hall cracked after the game. “And I’ve been lifting a lot lately, so I was prepared for that.”
[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Capitals series coverage]
It was a moment of redemption for all concerned. For Marchand, for Hall, for the Bruins.
“That was awesome, just a lot of relief,” Hall said. “Felt like I scored the goal myself there. The smiles on everyone’s faces that we had won that game — that’s a huge game. Such a huge difference, obviously, between being down 2-0 and being tied 1-1.”
Game 3 will be played at Boston on Wednesday (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, NESN, NBCSWA).
The Bruins, who believed they had been the better team over the bulk of the evening, had twice taken a lead and twice given it back before Garnet Hathaway scored his second of the game at 7:04 of the third period to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead that looked like it might stick.
But there came Hall, the player who arrived in Boston prior to the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline on a mission and proceeded to score 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 16 regular-season games after scoring 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) in 37 games with the Buffalo Sabres.
Hall had come to Boston for just such an opportunity and, after a quiet Game 1, made his mark in the third, the extra effort allowing him to remain in position during a mad scramble around Capitals goalie Craig Anderson. As Hall put it, “a greasy goal, for sure.”
“It wasn’t a perfect game for me,” Hall said. “I still think I have another level to get to, personally. But as a team we came together and won a game, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Redemption, too, for Marchand, who had a few moments earlier in the game that harkened back to a less-disciplined past that he would rather forget, including a slashing penalty on Anthony Mantha at 14:11 of the second period, after a Game 1 when he and his line didn’t produce.
But coach Bruce Cassidy had said multiple times that he was not worried about Marchand. And Marchand proved that belief was well-founded, scoring the seventh Stanley Cup Playoff game-winning goal in his career off a beauty of a feed from defenseman Matt Grzelcyk.
“I’ve got a lot of faith and trust and loyalty to Brad,” Cassidy said. “There’s way, way more good than bad, and I think he wanted to drag us into the fight, and we needed it tonight because we didn’t start on time.”
Marchand claimed a record that had stood for more than 50 years, beating Bobby Orr’s record for the fastest goal from the start of overtime. Orr scored the iconic goal that won the Stanley Cup in 1970 40 seconds into overtime in Game 4.
“That’s who he is,” center Patrice Bergeron said. “He competes at all times. His will, his want to be the difference is there, every time.”
When it was all over, even the Bruins were affected by the whiplash of the game, one that had seemed to be going against them, potentially putting them in a deep hole.
“I think the guys that had been here understood the urgency of this game,” Cassidy said. “We had to play better. We did.”
So now it’s 1-1. The series is even. The joy and relief was real.
“What would it be, like an hour ago that we tied the game?” Hall said. “There’s been a lot that’s changed in an hour.”