Boston’s Brad Marchand defends against New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri during the Bruins’ 3-0 victory at TD Garden on Saturday night. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

BOSTON — The seconds ticked off another penalty kill, and the crowd roared louder and louder as Brad Marchand played a game of cat and rat with the puck in the offensive zone. Naturally, Marchand played the part of the rat.

A Harlem Globetrotter on ice, Marchand used his strong, fancy stickhandling and sharp-cutting skates to his advantage Saturday night, and the New Jersey Devils just couldn’t keep up with the little devil in the Boston Bruins’ offensive zone during the penalty kill.

It was as entertaining to watch as it was productive, a fitting display for a well-rounded hockey player in his prime.

Boston Coach Bruce Cassidy enjoyed the substance of the show Marchand put on during the penalty kill as much as the crowd fed off the style of it.

“It deflates the other team,” Cassidy said after the Bruins’ 3-0 victory in their home opener. “If that’s our power play and I see a team doing that, frustration sets in from the coaching staff. The players on the ice are frustrated. So I think it does more to demoralize the opposition than it does to lift us.”

Marchand said he’s always looking to score when short-handed and in the offensive zone, but killing time is the next-best thing.

“It doesn’t always go your way, but you can take advantage of teams offensively on the (penalty kill),” Marchand said. “Most guys are looking to swing up ice and cheat defensively, and normally only have only one (defenseman) back there. You can take advantage of teams but you get in trouble doing that sometimes, too.”

The Bruins (4-1) are off to a fast start and so is Marchand, coming off the first 100-point season of his career and seemingly determined to improve on that total.

In support of Tuukka Rask’s crazy-good night in net, the feisty left winger sparked so much of what went right for the Bruins.

Marchand opened the night’s scoring from straightaway deep, beating Cory Schneider top shelf 3:33 into the first period.

Yet Marchand’s niftiest work came later in the period, when he slipped through a hole that looked too small for a rat to negotiate its way through and fired a point-blank shot that Schneider stopped.

The moves Marchand made to get in front of the net wowed a crowd that included no shortage of grown men and women wearing No. 63 on their Saturday night out.

Marchand also picked up an assist on Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal in the final minute of the second period, after getting a shot to the net to create a rebound opportunity.

That ran Marchand’s team-best points total to seven. It’s way too early to project numbers over an 82-game season, but what the heck – Marchand’s on a pace to score 115 points.

That projection would be higher had he cashed in on a breakaway in the second period, but he held onto the puck a touch too long and Schneider didn’t have any trouble stopping the shot. Goals and assists will come as aggressively as Marchand plays. He said his focus lies elsewhere.

“Not really concerned about my offensive game,” he said. “It’s more trying to be a better detail player. I think that’s something I can improve on from last year, so that’s really more what I’m thinking about.”

He took care of the details at both ends and on both special teams, and so did his teammates.

“The first couple were a little sloppy. We’re starting to figure it out a bit now,” Marchand said of the Bruins’ quick start. “We’re starting to get back in sync.”

Even thought they made it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals last season, the Bruins aren’t playing like a team that assumes everything will fall into place.

“I don’t think that we were concerned about that,” he said of complacency. “We have a pretty mature group, and we have enough leadership and experience in the (locker) room where we’re all proud in this room and we want to be good for each other.

“That’s never been a concern in our room and it’s not something we’ve ever thought about. Every player that’s on this team wants to be here, wants to play every night and give us your all. And that’s expected from this group, from each other, from management and the coaches.”

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