Tuukka Rask is the first Boston Bruins goaltender in franchise history to reach 300 wins with the franchise thanks to Brad Marchand’s pair of goals in Boston’s, 4-1, win over the New York Islanders at TD Garden on Thursday.
Craig Smith and Taylor Hall each had a goal for the Bruins in the action as Hall notched his first with Boston early in the third period in just his second game with the B’s since being traded by the Buffalo Sabres ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.
Newcomer, Mike Reilly, had an assist in the 60-minute effort, as well, marking his first point with the Bruins in his second game since being acquired from the Ottawa Senators on April 11th.
Travis Zajac had the only goal for the Islanders in what was his fourth game with the club since New York acquired him and teammate Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils on April 7th.
Rask (9-4-2, 2.32 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 16 games played) made 22 saves on 23 shots against for a .957 save percentage in the win for Boston.
It was also his first start since March 25th, when he left the game after one period against New York due to an injury.
Isles netminder, Semyon Varlamov (16-9-3, 2.24 goals-against average, .922 save percentage in 29 games played) stopped 41 out of 44 shots faced for a .932 save percentage in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 23-12-6 (52 points) on the season and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Islanders fell to 27-12-4 (58 points) overall and stuck in 2nd place in the division.
The B’s also improved to 1-3-2 against New York this season.
Boston was without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Kevan Miller (undisclosed) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Thursday.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes among his forwards, but with Miller out to do something unrelated to his recent knee injury, Jakub Zboril and Steven Kampfer were re-inserted in the lineup, while Miller and Jarred Tinordi came out.
Jeremy Lauzon and Charlie McAvoy retained their status on the first defensive pairing, while Reilly and Connor Clifton filled out the top-four defender roles.
Zboril and Kampfer were given third pairing minutes.
Jeremy Swayman served as Rask’s backup on Thursday and will get the start against the Islanders on Friday, Cassidy informed reporters after Boston’s, 4-1, win Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Jack Ahcan, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Tinordi and Miller were all on the long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or players out due to injury for the Bruins on Thursday.
Dan Vladar was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday with Rask returning to health.
Boston got off to a quick start thanks to Patrice Bergeron’s shot that deflected off of Marchand’s back and appeared to hit the crossbar before play continued.
After a quick stoppage, it was determined, in fact, that the puck had crossed the goal line, rendering Marchand (20) with a goal and the Bruins with a, 1-0, lead at 1:59 of the first period.
Bergeron (20) and Reilly (20) tallied the assists on the goal.
The goal marked Marchand’s eighth consecutive season with at least 20 goals and 10 out of the last 11 seasons that Marchand has reached the 20-goal plateau. He is just the fourth Bruin in franchise history to record 10 or more 20-goal seasons with the club.
Moments later, Scott Mayfield cross checked David Pastrnak and was sent to the penalty box as a result at 5:07, presenting Boston with their first power play of the game in the process.
The Bruins, however, were not able to convert on the resulting skater advantage.
Almost midway through the opening frame, Josh Bailey tripped Zboril and presented the B’s with another power play at 8:59, but New York’s penalty kill stood tall and killed off Bailey’s minor.
Shortly thereafter, Charlie Coyle tripped Brock Nelson and cut a rut to the sin bin at 13:45.
The Islanders weren’t on the power play for long as Nelson caught Reilly with a high stick and drew blood, yielding a four-minute double minor infraction at 14:49.
The two teams had 56 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Bruins had an extended power play.
Late in the power play, Boston’s second unit got to work generating shot attempt after shot attempt until Smith (10) rocketed a one-timer from the bumper past Varlamov low on the blocker side to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.
David Krejci (22) and McAvoy (19) had the assists on Smith’s power-play goal and Boston led, 2-0, at 17:55 of the first period.
Heading into the first intermission, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 23-7, in shots on goal.
The B’s also led in faceoff win percentage (55-45), while the Islanders held the advantage in blocked shots (8-2) and hits (10-9). Both teams had two takeaways and three giveaways aside after one period.
New York was 0/1 and Boston was 1/4 on the power play entering the middle frame.
Zajac (8) cut Boston’s lead in half when Marchand turned the puck over in his own zone, leading Zajac to score on the short side while the Islanders forward stood wide open due to a lack of defensive coverage.
Mathew Barzal (25) and Jordan Eberle (14) notched the assists on Zajac’s goal and the Isles trailed Boston, 2-1, at 2:56 of the second period.
Almost midway through the middle period, Krejci hooked Nick Leddy and presented the Islanders with another power play at 9:54, but New York couldn’t capitalize on the resulting skater advantage.
Late in the period Boston got another crack at the power play thanks to Cal Clutterbuck’s high sticking minor at 15:25, but the B’s didn’t convert on the advantage.
Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, Boston led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 35-18, in shots on goal, including a, 12-11, advantage in the second period alone.
The Bruins held the advantage in takeaways (6-5), while the Islanders led in blocked shots (17-6), giveaways (9-7), hits (17-15) and faceoff win% (51-49) after two periods.
New York was 0/2 and Boston was 1/5 on the power play heading into the final frame.
Hall (3) kicked off the third period with a breakaway goal sent through Varlamov’s five-hole to give Boston a, 3-1, lead, while Pastrnak (17) had the only assist on Hall’s first goal as a Bruin at 1:52 of the third period.
With 2:32 remaining in regulation, Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, pulled Varlamov for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Pastrnak kept the rubber biscuit in the attacking zone and battled in a scrum to retain possession before working the puck to Marchand (21) for an empty net goal.
Pastrnak (18) had the only assist on Marchand’s second goal of the game at 18:24.
Less than a minute later, Zboril took a holding penalty at 18:41, but the Islanders couldn’t convert on the skater advantage as the power play came to an end with the sound of the final horn.
Boston had won, 4-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 45-23, including a, 10-5, advantage in the third period alone.
The Islanders finished the night leading in blocked shots (19-7), giveaways (13-11) and hits (34-23).
Both teams finished even in faceoff win%, 50-50, while New York went 0/3 on the skater advantage and Boston finished the night 1/5 on the power play.
Rask– in his 552nd career game, all with Boston– tied Pekka Rinne for the fifth fastest goaltender in NHL history to reach the 300-win plateau, behind Jacques Plante (521 games), Andy Moog (543), Marc-Andre Fleury (547) and Martin Brodeur (548).
The Bruins improved to 15-4-3 (7-0-2) when scoring the game’s first goal, 12-0-2 (6-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 14-0-2 (9-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods this season.
The Islanders dropped to 9-11-2 (3-9-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-6-2 (1-6-2 on the road) when trailing after one period and 3-10-1 (3-8-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.
Boston faces New York again on Friday before closing out their five-game homestand (2-1-0) against the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon.