The New York Islanders erupted for seven goals on home ice in their, 7-2, victory over the Boston Bruins at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Thursday night.
Semyon Varlamov (9-4-2, 2.06 goals against average, .928 save percentage in 15 games played) stopped 34 out of 36 shots faced for a .944 SV% in the win for the Isles.
Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (4-2-1, 2.42 GAA, .903 SV% in seven games played) made 30 saves on 37 shots against for an .811 SV% in the loss.
The former Islanders goaltender was visibly frustrated and broke his stick against the post after allowing four goals.
Boston fell to 11-4-2 (24 points) on the season, but remained in command of the MassMutual NHL East Division standings.
New York improved to 10-6-3 (23 points) overall and jumped from 5th in the division to 3rd place in the standings.
Thursday night marked the 400th career National Hockey League game (all with Boston) for David Pastrnak. Entering Thursday, he had 393 points (189 goals, 204 assists) in 399 games, including 9-5–14 totals in nine games this season.
The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), David Krejci (lower body), Kevan Miller (knee) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) against the Islanders Thursday night.
Boston did, however, see the return of Jakub Zboril to the blue line after Zboril missed the last two games with an upper body injury sustained on Feb. 13th at the Islanders.
Grzelcyk, meanwhile, skated on Thursday morning and may make his return to the lineup on Friday or Sunday in Manhattan against the New York Rangers. He has missed 11 games so far this season due to a recurring lower body injury originally sustained on Jan. 21st vs. Philadelphia, then re-aggravated on Jan. 28th vs. Pittsburgh and again on Feb. 10th at the Rangers.
The newest member of Boston’s long list of injuries– Lauzon– played 34 seconds in the 2021 NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe game against the Flyers and will be out for approximately four weeks with a fractured left hand.
Krejci and Miller did not travel with the team to New York for the current three-game road trip.
Halak earned his first start against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum since 2014, while Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy made no adjustments to his forward lines, but played with his defensive pairings from Sunday’s, 7-3, win over the Flyers outdoors to Thursday night’s battle indoors on Long Island.
Urho Vaakanainen earned first pairing minutes with Charlie McAvoy to start the action, while Zboril was placed on the left side of Brandon Carlo on the second defensive pairing.
Meanwhile, John Moore and Connor Clifton rounded out the six dressed defenders.
Kase, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Lauzon, Karson Kuhlman, Miller, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth made up Boston’s long list of injuries, healthy scratches and taxi squad members on Thursday.
Nick Ritchie (7) kicked things off by redirecting a pass through the low slot past Varlamov to give the Bruins the game’s first goal 62 seconds into the action.
Zboril (3) and Charlie Coyle (3) tallied the assists as Boston led, 1-0, at 1:02 of the first period.
The B’s didn’t lead for long before Adam Pelech (1) pocketed a rebound past Halak’s blocker side while crashing the net for his first goal in 42 games.
Pelech’s goal was unassisted as the Islanders tied the game, 1-1, at 3:16 of the opening frame.
A couple of minutes past the midpoint of the first period, Mathew Barzal (7) burst into the attacking zone with speed and sniped a shot over Halak’s glove side to put New York ahead, 2-1, at 12:39.
Nick Leddy (10) and Varlamov (1) had the assists on Barzal’s goal as the two teams got off to a fast pace on Thursday.
Entering the first intermission, New York led Boston, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite the Bruins holding the, 15-10, advantage in shots on goal.
The B’s also led in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (53-47) after one period, while the Isles led in giveaways (5-1) and hits (12-5).
Neither team had seen any action on the skater advantage entering the middle frame.
Anthony Beauvillier tripped Pastrnak at 1:01 of the second period and yielded the game’s first power play to Boston, but the Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Craig Smith cut a rut to the sin bin for the B’s after hooking Leddy, but the Islanders didn’t capitalize on their first power play of the night as a result.
In the vulnerable minute after special teams action, Boston capitalized on a shift in momentum when Smith redirected the puck behind his back to his stick with a free hand– never closing his hand on the puck in the process– in the neutral zone before skating into the attacking zone and sending a pass towards Jack Studnicka as Studnicka crashed the net.
There was just one problem, however, as the puck deflected off of Matt Martin’s stick and fluttered over Varlamov and into the twine– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.
Smith (4) was credited with the goal while Jake DeBrusk (3) and Vaakanainen (2) earned the assists at 11:36 of the second period.
Through 40 minutes of play, the scoreboard was even, 2-2, but the Bruins were leading in shots on goal, 28-19, including a, 13-9, advantage in the second period alone.
The B’s also led in blocked shots (12-5) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the New York led in takeaways (3-2), giveaways (9-3) and hits (20-14).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.
Beauvillier (1) kicked things off in the third period with the eventual game-winning goal for the Islanders after stealing the puck right off of Trent Frederic’s stick and slipping the rubber biscuit through Halak to give New York a, 3-2, lead at 5:41.
Then it started.
The Islanders began an offensive onslaught, first when Barzal sent a pass to Jordan Eberle leading Halak to drop down into the splits while Eberle (8) roofed the puck over Halak’s glove and into the net.
Barzal (10) and Anders Lee (4) notched the assists on Eberle’s goal and New York took a two-goal lead, 4-2, at 10:45 of the third period.
Less than a couple of minutes later, Casey Cizikas sent the puck over the glass and received an automatic delay of game infraction at 12:04, but Boston’s power play was once again powerless and instead gave up an ensuing shorthanded goal against.
That’s right, Jean-Gabriel Pageau (8) emerged with a quick breakout from his own zone that translated into a breakaway into the attacking zone before scoring top-shelf over Halak’s glove side to make it, 5-2, Islanders at 12:24.
Pelech (4) had the only assist on Pageau’s shorthanded goal as the New York forward scored his third goal in three games against Boston this season.
About two minutes later, a wacky deflection off of Clifton, then Halak, then Vaakanainen and the post (or the other way around, it doesn’t matter that much) left a loose puck with eyes finding its way to Lee’s stick for Lee (9) to pot his team leading ninth goal of the season to make it a four-goal game.
Noah Dobson (7) and Leddy (11) had the assists on Lee’s goal and the Isles led, 6-2, at 14:44 of the third period.
Again, less than two minutes later, after Halak made an initial stop with his shoulder, the puck flew back into the slot whereby Oliver Wahlstrom (2) was waiting and anticipating burying the rebound to make it, 7-2, for New York– capping off five unanswered goals in a span in the third period alone for the Islanders.
Ryan Pulock (8) and Cizikas (3) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, at 16:33.
About a minute later, Frederic delivered a swift cross check to Lee after a stoppage in play and was dealt a minor infraction for cross checking as well as a game misconduct at 17:53.
Smith served Frederic’s minor as Boston’s penalty kill managed to go unscathed on the final special teams appearance of the night.
At the final horn, the Islanders handed the Bruins their worst loss of the season thus far on the scoreboard, 7-2.
It was Boston’s first game since beating the Flyers, 7-3, outdoors, so at least the Bruins managed consecutive games with at least seven goals scored by the winning team– just on both sides of the final result.
New York finished night leading in shots on goal, 37-36, including an, 18-8, advantage in the third period alone– the most shots allowed by Boston in any third period this season so far.
The B’s finished the game with the advantage in blocked shots (16-8) and faceoff win% (53-47), while the Isles managed the advantage in giveaways (13-6) and hits (26-24).
Both clubs went 0/2 on the power play on Thursday.
Thursday night’s game also marked just the second time this season that Boston lost by more than one goal. Coincidentally, the last time the Bruins did that this season was back on Feb. 13th against the Islanders on Long Island in a, 4-2, loss.
The Bruins fell to 7-2-0 (3-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first game, while the Islanders improved to 3-5-2 (3-0-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.
Boston also fell to 2-2-2 (2-2-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 3-3-1 (3-3-1 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.
New York, conversely, improved to 7-1-1 (4-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 6-2-2 (5-0-1 at home) when tied after two periods this season.
The Bruins are now 1-3-0 in their last four games and continue their three-game road trip (0-1-0) to close out the month of February (6-3-0) with a pair of games at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced earlier on Thursday that fans will be allowed at TD Garden, Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium at about 12% seating capacity as of March 22nd, which means Boston’s first home game with fans at TD Garden is currently scheduled for March 23rd against the Islanders.
Information regarding ticket sales and more is coming soon. Check your local listings (nhl.com/bruins, preferably).