McQuaid's rare goal sends Bruins to Finals

McQuaid's rare goal sends Bruins to Finals
June 8, 2013, 12:45 am
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GAME 4: B'S SWEEP PENS

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BOSTON -- In this NHL era, "puck-moving" defensemen are all the rage. Everybody wants one. If they don't have one, they look for one at the trade deadline.

Make no mistake about it, Adam McQuaid is not a puck-moving defenseman. He defines the exact opposite.

At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, McQuaid's main focus is defense. So to see him score the game-winning, series-clinching goal in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night at the TD Garden, it was a rare occurrence.

"He's one of those guys that you don't necessarily see that often on the score sheet, but he does his job," said Patrice Bergeron after Boston's 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. "And the way that he plays goes a long way, especially in the playoffs. And tonight was his turn to score that big goal."

McQuaid sniped the top-left corner with a slap shot, just five minutes into the third period. He had just jumped on the ice while Brad Marchand controlled the puck in Pittsburgh's zone along the left half-wall. As McQuaid got to the middle-right point, a patient Marchand found him with a perfect pass, and the big Bruins' defenseman let it rip upstairs to break a scoreless game.

"I didn't see him until the last second when I gave it to him," said Marchand. "When I turned up, I was going to go to Krejci, or I was looking for him, and then I just saw [McQuaid] come in behind him. Krejci kind of pulled his guy through, and I just gave it to him and started skating off. And he made a great play."

"I actually came on for a change, so I was kind of looking back to make sure there was no one behind on the change," said McQuaid. "I just got up the ice. Marchand kind of stopped up and made a nice pass to me. I just tried to get a shot on net, and luckily it went in."

The goal marked McQuaid's second of the playoffs. His first came back in Game 3 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

McQuaid only had one goal in the regular season. Last year, he only had two. In 2011 -- when the Bruins last won the Cup -- McQuaid had three regular-season goals, and none in the playoffs.

So needless to say, he doesn't score much.

But the Bruins aren't asking him to. They're asking him to be a shutdown defenseman, especially in playoff situations on the road in which the B's have the last change, and McQuaid might see more of a team's top forwards.

As the Bruins complete their sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins and steamroll into the Stanley Cup Finals, McQuaid has had a major presence in the Bruins' defensive end.

He finished the Penguins series as a plus-2. And in their 16 playoff games this year, McQuaid is a plus-8, which ranks second among Bruins defensemen, behind Zdeno Chara's plus-12.

"He sits right next to me, and I know how well he's preparing himself for every practice and every game," said Chara after the series sweep. "To have a guy like that, really humble, quiet, and playing extremely hard every game, to get a winning goal, it's great to see. You're used to seeing guys that are supposed to score, score. But when you see a guy that is not known for scoring and getting that big, big goal, it's twice as nice."

As a result, McQuaid was the one wearing the team's player-of-the-game Army Ranger jacket afterwards.

"There was no hesitation there in awarding him the jacket tonight," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "So it just goes to show you how our guys really appreciate all the different little things that every player does on this team."

The Bruins certainly appreciate McQuaid's constant defensive effort. But on Friday night, they're extra grateful for what he was able to provide offensively.

"He's an incredible guy and he works so hard," said Marchand. "He plays such a physical game. He doesn't always get rewarded for how hard he plays. It was great that he stepped up tonight and got the game-winner and sent us to the Finals."