Bruins blank Flyers as Marchand returns from big hit
PHILADELPHIA — With a trickle of blood on the bridge of his nose, Brad Marchand acknowledged on Saturday that he’s been targeted far more this season than any other in his nine-year NHL career.
“I’ve been hit more this year than I ever have been combined in my career,” Marchand said after returning from concussion protocol to record a goal and an assist in the second period, leading the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 win over the backsliding Flyers.
“I need to do a better job of keeping my head up.”
Playing just his second contest after missing six games with an upper-body injury sustained on Nov. 11, Marchand absorbed a big hit from Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov late in the first period but came back with a vengeance.
“He always plays with that edge,” said Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who stopped all 28 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season and the 38th of his NHL career.
“People on the other team get angry at him because of the way he plays, so they take runs at him and he doesn’t let that bother him.
“Some years ago, he might have let his game slip a little bit, but now he just goes back out there and puts it in the net. That’s the best way to do it.”
Forwards Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak also scored even-strength goals for the Bruins, who won for the sixth time in seven games to improve to 12-8-4.
The Flyers’ loss was their 10th straight (0-5-5) and dropped them to 8-11-7. The longest they have ever gone without a win came in the 1998-99 season when they went 0-8-4. It also marked the sixth time this season they have been shut out.
“If I had the answer, we’d be turning it around,” said Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott, who made 24 saves in the loss. “It’s getting tiring trying to explain. It’s about playing the game the right way and playing smart. We’re working really hard, but sometimes when you’re spinning your tires and nothing gets accomplished, if you don’t make the smart play every time (the other team is) going to turn it around and bring it the other way.”
The Bruins opened the scoring with 5:30 remaining in the opening period when Spooner scored his first goal since March 4 of last season, a span stretching 22 games. He caught a breakaway pass from Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, used a burst of speed to get a step on Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald and beat Elliott between the pads with a forehand to backhand move.
Marchand left the game with 4:24 remaining in the first period when he took a high hit from Provorov, who was called for an illegal check to the head. Marchand went to the Bruins’ dressing room for evaluation.
“I thought it was a dangerous hit that was more than a 2-minute minor,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “That Marchy. He’s battle hard. Listen, he’s been knocked around a bit this year and he’s obviously getting targeted. We’ll have to address, that but it’s nice to see him back in the lineup because he’s a top-end guy for us. He does everything.”
Marchand, one of the smallest players in the NHL at 5-foot-9, said he needs to do a better job of being aware of opponents looking to make big hits on him.
“I kind of exposed myself a bit and that’s going to happen when you open yourself up like that,” Marchand said. “I got it more in the mouth and the nose, which is expected. I had to go through (concussion) protocol.”
Marchand returned for the second period and promptly set up Pastrnak’s goal at the 6:38 mark, winning the puck in the faceoff circle and shuffling a pass to Pastrnak, who beat Elliott inside the left post for his team-high 13th goal.
Marchand extended Boston’s lead to 3-0 midway through the period when he knocked down a pass from McAvoy and beat Elliott for his ninth goal in 16 games this season.
Right winger Wayne Simmonds, who saw a Flyers goal by Claude Giroux reversed because of his goaltender interference, said the best thing for the team might be going away on a three-game road trip to Western Canada.
“We need this right now, where it’s just us together conversing about how we need to play without any outside distractions,” Simmonds said. “When we’re on the road we’re each other’s family.”
NOTES: Bruins C David Krejci (back) and RW Anders Bjork (upper body) returned to the lineup. ... The Bruins’ fathers made the trip to Philadelphia and watched the game from a balcony suite. They’ll accompany their sons to Nashville, where the Bruins will face the Predators on Monday. ... The Flyers recalled D Mark Alt from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League. He will join the team on their three-game road trip that begins Monday night in Calgary. They continue with stops in Edmonton and Vancouver.