TORONTO -- This was the moment of a lifetime for Brad Marchand, and, like he had the throughout the World Cup of Hockey 2016, he made the most of it.
Marchand's shorthanded goal with 43.1 seconds remaining completed a stunning comeback and gave Team Canada a 2-1, Game 2 victory against Team Europe that completed a sweep of the best-of-3 final at Air Canada Centre on Thursday.
The World Cup-winner was Marchand's tournament-leading fifth goal and made him a national hero.
It was still sinking in afterward when he was watching the Canadian flag get raised during the playing of "O Canada."
"You see your family in the crowd and how proud everybody is in the whole arena," Marchand said. "When you watch that flag go up and all these emotions are going through your head and you're representing your country and your team just had success and won for your country, you know, that's something that you can't describe. It's an incredible feeling. Again, I'm a bit lost for words right now because it was just … you're just trying to take every moment of it in because you know you're going to look back on this and wish you could do it over and over again."
Video: CAN@EUR, Gm2: Marchand nets Toews' feed for late lead
The entire tournament has been a transformational experience for Marchand. He recalled being booed while playing in a pretournament game against Team USA at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Sept. 10. At that point, it was difficult for the Ottawa Senators fans to ignore how Marchand, one of the NHL's best agitators, often had been an annoying pest in their building with the Boston Bruins.
"That just shows how great the fans are here where they have a lot of loyalty to their team," Marchand said. "But to be on a team like this and to have success and to win with a team like this is an incredible feeling. I think all of Canada kind of gets behind that and they all feel the enjoyment of that, feel the success from that, and we all enjoy it together. It's not just our team, but all of Canada will be celebrating tonight."
After acknowledging how special this World Cup has been for Marchand, Team Canada and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock was quick to say, "Let's not kid ourselves. He's still a pest, and he's going to be a pest when we play them in our home opener [on Oct. 15]."
Video: CAN@EUR, Gm2: Marchand on his late goal to win WCH
But regardless what happens in that game or any of the games that follow, the 28-year-old wing will be remembered in Canada as a World Cup hero for the rest of his career, the same way Sidney Crosby is remembered for scoring the overtime goal that won the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"This is crazy the way everything worked out," Crosby said. "We get a penalty that late in the game and you're just trying to force overtime. Then [Marchand] comes down and buries one like that. It was a pretty unbelievable feeling considering how hard we had to work to get our chances here. It wasn't easy."
Team Canada trailed 1-0 after Zdeno Chara's goal 6:26 into the first period and was repeatedly frustrated by Team Europe and goaltender Jaroslav Halak before finally tying the game on Patrice Bergeron's power-play deflection with 2:53 left. But a high-sticking penalty on Drew Doughty with 1:50 remaining put Team Europe on the power play and Team Canada back in jeopardy of facing Game 3 on Saturday.
Video: EUR@CAN, Gm1: Marchand opens scoring on early break
Marchand put those worries to rest by finishing a shorthanded rush by Jonathan Toews. Marchand jumped off the bench to join the play as a trailer when Toews carried the puck up ice against two Team Europe defenders. After hearing Marchand yelling for a pass, Toews dropped the puck to him in the high slot.
Toews said he saw Marchand coming, "Out of the corner of my eye, but mostly just heard him.
"It was kind of a momentary thing where you take a chance," Toews said. "I dropped him the puck and he made a [heck] of a play."
Marchand took a wrist shot from between the circles that beat Halak to the blocker side and then jumped into the air in celebration.
Video: RUS@CAN: Marchand nets second goal of the game
"[Toews] made a great play to open up a lot of space, and when I came in I just wanted to get a shot on net," Marchand said. "But he made a phenomenal play to back everybody in and make a great drop pass, and luckily the puck went in the net."
The goal completed a storybook tournament for Marchand, who excelled skating on Team Canada's top line with Crosby and Bergeron. Throw in the eight-year, $49 million contract extension Marchand signed with the Bruins on Monday and it felt like he was living a dream.
"The whole thing has been a bit of a whirlwind," he said. "When you come into a tournament like this, you're just trying to take everything in. This is the biggest stage in the world right now and to be part of it is an incredible honor. And then to be put on the line with Sid and [Bergeron] is another big honor, and [there's] a lot of pressure that goes with that. But it's been an incredible experience every day with the guys in the room and off the ice.
"The things we had to overcome, it's been a dream come true, and I'll cherish every second of this for the rest of my life."