OK, so maybe all Brad Marchand did need was a day off.

After producing his worst stretch of hockey while closing a season that once again flirted with Hart Trophy consideration, Marchand returned to all his glory Thursday night in the Bruins’ resounding 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of the first-round of the Stanley Cup playoff series.

He initiated the scoring on the Bruins’ first power play of the game, when he took a beautiful Torey Krug pass that went between the legs of Toronto’s Roman Polak and he beat Frederik Andersen with a backhander past the goalie’s glove arm.

Then in the final minute of the second period, he flashed some vintage Marchand when he went back-and-forth along the right wall with the puck before losing Toronto’s Kasperi Kapanen. Once he created a little space, Marchand passed to teammate David Pastrnak in the slot and Pastrnak put it under the bar to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead with 38 seconds left in the period.

It was the dagger Toronto never managed to rip from its chest.

“That’s what (Patrice Bergeron’s line) does,” said Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy. “They make plays, they support one another and they got those slot looks. They were able to get a couple and they got the second one in. That was the big one to me, the third goal. All of a sudden, you’re up two and your best players are feeling it.”

Bergeron’s line had done things like that all year, but not so much in the final half-dozen games. Marchand, in particular, suffered through an unusually long slump with just one assist and no goals, and his linemates Bergeron and Pastrnak spent a troublesome amount of time in their zone.

Marchand was minus-8 in the last six games and Bergeron was a minus-7 and Pastrnak a minus-5 in that stretch.

Cassidy and the Bruins kept promising Marchand and the first line would be better after wiping the slate clean with three nongame days – one for rest and recovery and two for practice – and they made good on it.

“We had two really good days of practice and we felt good as a line. I knew he was going to be good like that. I was expecting that,” said Bergeron, whose line also helped to keep Auston Matthews off the board. “I thought he stayed composed, too. He was really good with the way he played in between the whistles.”

Indeed, Marchand may have played the imp Thursday night, but not the rat. The only time the Leafs came after him with anger seemed a tad manufactured. It happened in the second period when he was driving to the net and it appeared he may have clipped Andersen on the way by. The replay, however, showed that it was actually Toronto defenseman Nikita Zaitsev who got Andersen, who flopped to no avail.

But he did bait Leo Komarov with some more romantic overtures. Early in the season, Marchand stunned Komarov by giving him a little pest-to-pest peck. Thursday night, he just nuzzled his face into Komarov’s cheek.

“I thought he wanted to cuddle. I just wanted to get close to him,” deadpanned Marchand. “He keeps trying to get close to me. I don’t know if he’s got a thing for me or what. He’s cute.”

Sweet nothings aside, Cassidy appreciated the control Marchand showed.

“I thought it was excellent,” said Cassidy. “He’s going to be a guy that teams are going to circle because he’s an elite player. In the past, you’ve been able to get him off his game at times. A lot of times, the good players, they play with passion and it’s just a matter of how quickly can you get it back and where do you keep your discipline not to hurt your team. And I’m sure he’ll get tested again (Saturday). But that’s what Marchie’s up against. You want to be a good player? You better be prepared for some extra attention. . . . That’s hockey in general, but it’s even more magnified at this time of year.”

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