By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Brad Marchand cannot be stopped … from licking opponents in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In what is becoming an unprecedented trend for the Bruins’ top-line forward, Marchand got up close and personal with Tampa Bay winger Ryan Callahan during the second period of Game 4 between the Bruins and Lightning.

The encounter took place during a frenzied fracas on the ice, one which saw bodies flying left and right all over the ice and led to a stoppage in play. But amidst that violent chaos, there was a bit of romance, thanks to Marchand.

See it for yourself:

That is for sure a lick, one that seemed to have swiped up through Callahan’s mustache and to his nose — perhaps into his nose.

After the game — which Tampa Bay won 4-3 in overtime to take a 3-1 series lead — Marchand explained his motivation.

“Well, he punched me four times in the face, so you know, he just kept getting close,” Marchand said. “Nothing big.”

Marchand was then told that Callahan said that he doesn’t know the difference between spitting in someone’s face and licking it.

“That’s cute,” Marchand responded. “Good for him.”

One person who was not a fan of the incident was Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper.

“All I’m going to say is there is absolutely no place in our game for that. I don’t get it, I don’t understand it, I don’t,” Cooper said. “How would you feel if I walked over to you right now and gave you one big lick? Right from the chin all the way up. There’s just no place in the game for that.”

Now, why anyone would be willing to go so far to retaliate some alleged punches is anyone’s guess, but it has become Marchand’s calling card of sorts this postseason. He gave Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov a lick to the neck in Game 1 of the Bruins’ first-round series, which was somewhat of a repeat of a smooch that Marchand planted on Komarov earlier this season.

A fan holds a sign for Brad Marchand in Tampa. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

After the Komarov lick, a report came out saying that the NHL reached out to the Bruins to tell Marchand to stop putting his lips and tongue on opponents’ faces and necks, but both Marchand and the NHL denied that such a communication ever went out.

So, the league doesn’t intend to tell Marchand to stop. But opponents probably wouldn’t mind if he found a new hobby.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.


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