After winning their last five games (and on the road, too), the Boston Bruins fell to the New York Islanders, 4-2, on Saturday night at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Islanders goaltender, Semyon Varlamov (6-2-2, 1.98 goals against average, .930 save percentage in ten games played) stopped 28 out of 30 shots faced for a .933 SV% in the win.
Bruins netminder, Tuukka Rask (6-2-1, 2.51 GAA, .906 SV% in nine games played) made 38 saves on 42 shots against for a .905 SV% in the loss.
Boston fell to 10-2-2 (22 points) on the season, but remained in 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while New York improved to 6-4-3 (15 points), but stuck in 4th place in the division.
Ondrej Kase (upper body) missed his 12th game this season due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey, while Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) missed his eighth game of the season due to a lingering injury originally sustained on Jan. 21st against Philadelphia, then re-aggravated on Jan. 28th against Pittsburgh and again on Feb. 10th in New York (against the Rangers).
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one change to his lineup from Friday night’s, 1-0, win against the Rangers, replacing Connor Clifton on the second defensive pairing with John Moore, who made his season debut.
Par Lindholm, Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth served as Boston’s healthy scratches and/or taxi squad members on Saturday night.
Midway through the opening frame, Brad Marchand (9) fired the puck past Varlamov on the blocker side from the slot on a catch and release shot after Patrice Bergeron fed Marchand with a pass.
Bergeron (11) and David Pastrnak (4) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins led, 1-0, at 8:41 of the first period.
Boston earned a little over a minute of consecutive attacking zone time leading up to Marchand’s goal in a dominant display of possession as Saturday night’s action got going.
A few minutes later, Islanders defender, Ryan Pulock fed the slot where Jean-Gabriel Pageau hacked at the puck before Leo Komarov (1) put the finishing touch on it– sneaking the puck behind Rask and tying the game, 1-1, in the process.
Pageau (4) and Pulock (5) notched the assists on Komarov’s first goal of the season at 11:36.
Almost four minutes later, New York took the lead on a tremendous momentum swing whereby Jordan Eberle (6) rocketed an old-school blast from the faceoff circle off of Rask’s leg pad and through the five-hole at 15:16 of the first period.
Brock Nelson (3) and Scott Mayfield (1) had the assists on Eberle’s goal and the Islanders led, 2-1.
Entering the first intermission, New York had the lead on the scoreboard, as well as shots on goal, 15-7.
The Isles also dominated in blocked shots (6-2) and hits (15-13), while Boston led in faceoff win percentage (65-35).
Both clubs had two takeaways and two giveaways each after one period of action and had yet to see any time on the skater advantage.
Prior to the start of the middle period, the Bruins tweeted that defender, Jakub Zboril, would not return to Saturday night’s game with an upper body injury.
Almost midway through the second period, Adam Pelech cross checked Pastrnak and received a minor infraction at 7:47.
Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play– the first skater advantage of the night.
Late in the period, Pastrnak worked the puck up to Marchand through the neutral zone, whereby Marchand then setup Bergeron (7) for another catch and release goal over Varlamov’s blocker side at 16:51.
Marchand (9) and Pastrnak (5) were credited with the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins tied the game, 2-2.
Through 40 minutes of action at the Coliseum, the score was tied, 2-2, despite the Islanders holding a, 30-16, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 15-9, advantage in just the second period alone.
New York also led in blocked shots (9-7), takeaways (5-2) and hits (29-23), while the B’s led in giveaways (9-5) and faceoff win% (62-38).
Boston was 0/1 on the power play, while the Isles had yet to see any time on the skater advantage heading into the second intermission.
Pastrnak hooked Mathew Barzal at 4:09 of the third period and the penalty proved to be costly for the Bruins as New York took full advantage of their only power play of the night.
Barzal (6) gave the Islanders a go-ahead power-play goal on a one-timer that sailed over Rask’s blocker side from close range.
Anders Lee (3) and Eberle (3) had the assist’s on Barzal’s goal as the Islanders took a, 3-2, lead at 5:30 of the third period.
Past the midpoint of the final frame, Eberle caught Jeremy Lauzon with a high stick at 13:37, but the Bruins were no match for New York’s penalty kill.
In fact, Boston’s power play gave up a goal as Komarov fed Pageau (4) with a short breakaway, leading to a shot past Rask’s glove side into the back of the twine to make it, 4-2, for the Islanders.
Komarov (2) had the only assist on Pageau’s shorthanded insurance goal at 14:32.
It was the first shorthanded goal against allowed by Boston this season.
With 2:40 remaining in Saturday night’s action, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as the Islanders defense stood tall against Boston’s last-ditch effort.
At the final horn, New York had won, 4-2.
The Islanders finished the night leading in shots on goal, 42-30, despite trailing, 14-12, in shots in the third period alone.
The Isles also wrapped up the night leading in blocked shots (13-12) and hits (36-27), while Boston finished the effort leading in giveaways (14-11) and faceoff win% (64-37).
New York went 1/1 on the power play, while the Bruins finished 0/2 on the skater advantage– reminiscent of their 0-2-0 record on Long Island this season.
Both of Boston’s regulation losses this season have been against the Islanders at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Bruins fell to 6-1-0 (3-1-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, while the Islanders improved to 1-3-2 (1-0-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.
Boston also fell to 2-1-2 when trailing after the first period, as well as 3-2-1 when tied after two periods this season.
New York, meanwhile, improved to 4-1-1 when leading after the first period and 4-1-2 when tied after two periods this season.
The B’s were scheduled to face the New Jersey Devils at home on Monday (Feb. 15th), but that game has been postponed due to many of the Devils players being in COVID protocol recently.
New Jersey is scheduled to return to practice on Monday, which means next Thursday (Feb. 18th) remains on tap for Boston’s next home game (unless it, too, becomes postponed). Boston then travels to Lake Tahoe for an outdoor game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 21st.