Brad Marchand left the morning skate early. The Bruins were thrilled he was on the ice at the end of the game Thursday night.
More precisely, just a few feet from the empty side of the net.
Patrice Bergeron made a perfect pass across the slot and Marchand tipped the puck in with 4:20 left in the first overtime. That gave Boston a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers in the opener of their Eastern Conference best-of-seven semifinal.
''That's what he needed to do. Get off the ice early so he could score that winning goal,'' Bruins coach Claude Julien joked after the first playoff game between the Original Six teams in 40 years. ''Whatever works is good for us.''
He said the reason was ''minor'' for Marchand's early departure but provided no details.
Marchand, perhaps, did.
''I didn't want to waste my energy there this morning. I felt I had some good jump tonight,'' he said with a smile. ''Claude knows I hate morning skates.''
Whatever the reason, Marchand had one of his best games...