Bruins go for 6th in row vs. Blackhawks

BOSTON -- What will Brad Marchand do next?

"He just keeps on ticking," Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after Marchand scored a third straight game-winning goal in his team's fifth straight win, a 3-2 decision over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

After two overtime winners in a row, making him the Bruins' all-time leader in regular-season OT goals, Marchand, playing without center Patrice Bergeron, denied the playoff-seeking Philadelphia Flyers a point by stuffing home a rebound with 22 seconds remaining in regulation Thursday.

The Bruins host the struggling (and last-place) Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in the start of an Original Six home-and-home weekend series (both matinees) -- and you have to wonder what else Marchand has up his sleeve.

Last Saturday night, he scored on a spectacular individual effort to give his team a 2-1 OT win over Montreal -- always exciting in Boston, even with the Canadiens about to miss the playoffs. On Tuesday night, Marchand capped a three-goal, two-assist effort with the overtime winner on a rebound. And then came Thursday, with Marchand rescuing the Bruins on a night they didn't play their best hockey.

Asked about Thursday's winner, Marchand, who sported an "A" on his jersey Thursday night, said: "A little easier, but I think it's just a product of everybody doing their job the right way and keeping it simple, and, when you do that you get pucks to the net, good things happen."

In the five games without Bergeron, Marchand has five goals and four assists and is a plus-4. For the season, in 52 games, he has 29 goals and 38 assists for 67 points and his plus-32 was tied (with ex-teammate and Vegas Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith) for second in the league.

When Bergeron went down, he was generating some MVP buzz. Now, that buzz belongs to Marchand, who was fined $2,000 for embellishing in the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 1.

In 10 career regular-season games against the Blackhawks, Marchand has four goals and seven assists and is a plus-9 -- and he now faces a Chicago team about to miss the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

The Blackhawks fell 3-2 at Carolina on Thursday night, with former Hawk Teuvo Teravainen setting up the winning goal.

"It's kind of weird," Teravainen said. "It's such a different team they have right now. They lost a lot of their pieces."

Chicago also has been without goaltender Corey Crawford, out with an upper-body injury (reportedly concussion-related) since Dec. 23. Jean-Francois Berube has played the last two and three of the last five after Anton Fosberg handled the bulk of the work.

In addition to Bergeron, the Bruins are also missing rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy (knee) and veteran David Backes (second and third games of his three-game NHL suspension this weekend). But playing at home -- and also missing Tuukka Rask for two games in goal -- and not always playing great, Boston has reeled off five straight wins and still has a shot at the President's Trophy.

The Bruins trail Tampa Bay by six points in the Atlantic Division but have three games in hand and still have three games left against the Lightning. The sizzling Nashville Predators of the West are five points ahead of the Bruins, who have two games in hand there.

Rask returned Thursday after missing two games with a "very minor injury" and will play Saturday while Anton Khudobin goes Sunday in Chicago.

"He's been the backbone of our team all year," Marchand said Thursday of Rask. "Him and Doby, and tonight's another example of that. He played big, made a lot of really big saves at the right time, especially on the power play late there, so you know, when he's on then we're normally pretty good and he gives us an opportunity to win every night, and that's the case again tonight."

The teams split two games last year, both winning on the road.

Sunday's game opens a four-game road trip for the Bruins, who will play eight of their next nine away from TD Garden.

The Blackhawks sent defenseman Carl Dahlstrom to the minors Friday, with no corresponding move announced.

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