The Bruins beat one of the best teams in the NHL but accomplished the victory with Nashville’s best goalie and early Vezina Trophy candidate, Pekka Rinne, on the bench due to the Predators playing the second of back-to-back games.
It is only the fourth time in 35 games this season that the Bruins produced a five-goal effort. Nashville did have a strong, late push as Boston played the third period on its heels, but the Bruins held on and now have a two-game winning streak.
“We all know that if we’re going to climb back into the standings, we all need to play our game and do what we’re paid to do,” Marchand said. “We’ve got to produce. We all know what we have to do. If we all play our roles the way we’re supposed to, then we’re a good team, and we know that. It’s good to see everybody’s stepping up right now.”
After the morning skate, the emphasis was to enter the three-day holiday break on a positive note. The Bruins were able to accomplish just that, even though they did not show the killer instinct coach Claude Julien has been looking for.
For Marchand, it’s only his third two-goal game of the season, but he does have five goals and five assists for 10 points in his last 11 games. The chip on his shoulder appears to be back, and that’s when Marchand is at his best. Indeed, the crafty winger is showing signs of getting his aggressive style back.
Marchand’s first goal gave Boston the all-important 1-0 lead. He gained control of a turnover just inside the Nashville blue line and quickly moved the puck to linemate Patrice Bergeron, who delivered a perfect give-and-go with Marchand. His shot from the slot beat Predators goaltender Carter Hutton to the top left corner at 2:01 of the first period.
“I don’t think too many goaltenders would have stopped that,” Julien said. “It was a quick release -- quick, hard shot.”
Marchand added his second goal at 10:51 of the second period to give Boston a 4-2 lead. With two goals already in his pocket, he wanted the third, because he was well aware of the date. He registered his first career hat trick against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 23, 2011.
“It was in my head,” he said with a smile. “It would have been nice to get it, but we won, so that’s all that matters.”
For Eriksson, the confidence is building with every point he earns of late. His first goal gave Boston a 3-2 lead at 5:53 of the second period. It was the end result of hard work and strong passing between Eriksson, linemate Chris Kelly and defenseman Matt Bartkowski.
Eriksson added his second of the game, an empty-net tally at 19:22 of the third period, for his ninth goal of the season. He now has six goals and two assists for eight points in his last eight games. It was his fifth multipoint game of the season and third in the last four games.
“It’s definitely going good,” Eriksson said of his confidence. “When you start scoring goals the confidence goes up, and it was nice to get two goals today and get the win before Christmas.”
It also is evident that he is comfortable on the line with Kelly and Carl Soderberg. That trio has built its chemistry since last season, but it had been sporadic this season until Julien decided he needed to keep the line intact.
When a goal scorer is on a streak like Eriksson’s, pucks always seem to find a way onto his stick. And that's how Eriksson is feeling right now.
“I’ve been feeling good, and we’ve been creating chances,” he said. “When you get on a roll, usually you get on a good scoring streak and it just keeps coming. I’m feeling right now that I have my confidence up. I’m making plays and scoring goals, so hopefully I can continue doing that.”
After Tuesday’s win, Eriksson mentioned the way he’s feeling right now is similar to stretches he had while playing for the Dallas Stars.
Speaking of Dallas, ever since Boston acquired Eriksson -- along with Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser from the Stars in exchange for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley on July 4, 2013 -- folks compare Eriksson’s success to Seguin’s.
In Dallas this season, Seguin is tearing it up, leading the league with 25 goals and ranking second with 42 points. Eriksson and Smith have a combined 38 points this season. Most will argue Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli made a mistake. But the fact of the matter is he had to make the trade at that time, because Seguin would have continued to underperform in Boston for a variety of reasons.
It may be easy to second-guess the trade, but Eriksson is not paying attention to what Seguin is doing in Texas.
“Obviously, he’s scoring a lot of goals over there, but there’s not much I can do about it here,” Eriksson said. “I’m just trying to play my game and try to help the team as much as I can here. The last couple of games it’s been really good, so hopefully I can continue doing that.”
The Bruins enter the holiday break with a two-game winning streak. Boston barely beat the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Sunday at TD Garden before hanging on to an important victory over the thriving Predators.
The players who should be producing are finding their games. But unlike the majority of the season, those players, especially Marchand and Eriksson, need to continue that play if the Bruins are to climb the Eastern Conference standings.
“It was good to see glimpses of how we know we can play, and we know it’s still in here,” Marchand said.
We shall see.