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Brad Marchand isn’t known for keeping his cool.
The Boston Bruins’ “Little Ball of Hate” has been suspended six times and fined on five more occasions during his NHL career, but it was his poise that helped his team take the lead in the series heading into Game 2 Sunday afternoon in Boston.
On Thursday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against Carolina, with his Bruins trailing by a goal early in the third period, Marchand showed a different side.
The Hurricanes’ Jordan Staal was called for boarding against Boston’s Chris Wagner just 49 seconds into the period. Rookie Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton took exception, giving Staal a cross-check and then trying to put him in a headlock.
Marchand stepped in and pulled Clifton away to avoid offsetting penalties.
The Bruins tied the score on the ensuing power play and, after another Carolina penalty, converted again 28 seconds later to take the lead. They added two late goals for a 5-2 victory.
“He’s turning over a new leaf, eh?” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy joked when asked about Marchand. “Marchy … listen, he’s been in these big games. He’s a Stanley Cup champion, so he understands maybe a little more than meets the eye sometimes. There’s a time and a place where you really have to be disciplined.”
The Bruins outscored Carolina 4-0 in the third period.
“I thought the third was the way we want to play,” said assistant captain Patrice Bergeron, who scored the go-ahead goal off an assist from Marchand. “And not going to lie, the second goal got us going and got the momentum on our side, and then we got rolling.”
Carolina defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who started his career with the Bruins after being selected by them in the first round of the 2011 draft, was whistled for two minor penalties in the third period — including the one that led to the go-ahead goal.
“We had the lead in the third, took some penalties and gave them the lead,” Hamilton said. “Tough to come back from that.”
The Hurricanes had their six-game winning streak snapped, which dated to the final two games of the opening-round series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, which
Carolina won in seven games. The Hurricanes then swept the New York Islanders in four straight in the second round.
“This playoff, we’ve been successful holding leads, and we got kicked in the pants a little bit (Thursday),” Carolina captain Justin Williams said. “That hasn’t happened in a while, and we’ve got to get the next one.”
The Hurricanes missed an opportunity in the opener as Boston was without defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who leads the Bruins’ skaters in ice time. McAvoy was suspended one game after a hit to the head of Columbus’ Josh Anderson in the finale of the second-round series.
To make matters worse for the Hurricanes, McAvoy’s replacement, Steven Kampfer, scored the opening goal in Game 1 less than three minutes in.
“We’re not going to win if we don’t play better than that,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We had spurts, but that’s not going to be good enough at this time of the year. So we’ll regroup and try to get better for the next game.”