The New York Islanders managed to pull ahead midway through the third period before adding a pair of empty net goals to defeat the Boston Bruins, 4-1, in Game 4 of their 2021 Second Round series at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night.
Semyon Varlamov (2-3, 2.48 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in five games played) made 28 saves on 29 shots against in the win for New York.
Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (6-3, 2.04 goals-against average, .934 save percentage in nine games played) stopped 30 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.
The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (upper body), Brandon Carlo (undisclosed) and John Moore (hip) on Saturday.
B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, informed reporters after Saturday’s morning skate that Miller continues to skate back in Boston and that Carlo is “feeling better” and rode the bike on Saturday, so he’s not yet ruled in or out of the lineup for Game 5.
As a result of Carlo being out of the lineup for Game 4, Jarred Tinordi drew into Cassidy’s plans on the third pairing alongside Connor Clifton, while Jeremy Lauzon was promoted to the right side of Mike Reilly on the second defensive pair.
Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players on Saturday included Nick Wolff, Trent Frederic, Greg McKegg, Zach Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka, Carlo, Kase, Jaroslav Halak, Steven Kampfer, Cameron Hughes, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Oskar Steen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Miller.
Tensions boiled midway through the opening frame as Taylor Hall and Scott Mayfield exchanged fisticuffs at 7:28 of the first period.
Each player received a fighting major, while it was just the second fight ever for Hall (and his first postseason fight), who last fought Derek Dorsett– then of the Columbus Blue Jackets– back in the days when Hall was on the Edmonton Oilers on March 3, 2011.
It was also the first fight of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Boston.
About a couple minutes later, Tinordi and Matt Martin dropped the gloves and exchanged punches before Tinordi wrestled Martin to the ice after a scrum ensued following Mathew Barzal’s cross check on Curtis Lazar at 9:23 of the opening period.
Barzal was assessed a minor infraction, while Tinordi and Martin went to the box with five-minute majors for fighting.
The Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.
With about three minutes left in the first period, David Pastrnak sent a one-timer off the iron behind Varlamov, whereby the puck bounced off the post and struck the Isles netminder’s skate before Varlamov fell back onto the loose puck.
Pastrnak’s missed shot on net came back to haunt Boston on the scoreboard as the two teams entered the first intermission still tied, 0-0, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal (so, excluding Pastrnak’s shot off the post), 11-7.
The B’s also led in takeaways (1-0), giveaways (3-1) and hits (17-12), while the two clubs each recorded eight blocked shots and went, 50-50, in faceoff win percentage in the first 20 minutes of action.
New York had yet to see time on the power play, while Boston was 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.
Martin went to the box for holding at 2:46 of the second period as the action resumed after the first intermission.
The Bruins didn’t waste too much time on the resulting power play as David Krejci (1) buried a loose puck for the game’s first goal as Brad Marchand (3) picked up the primary assist– surpassing Phil Esposito for sole possession of the fourth-most postseason points as a Bruin in franchise history in the process– while Pastrnak (6) was charged with the secondary helper.
Krejci’s power-play goal gave Boston a, 1-0, lead at 3:57 of the second period.
It would be the first and last time that the Bruins led all night and it didn’t last long, despite Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, challenging the call on the ice on the grounds that he believed there had been incidental goaltender interference that would otherwise negate the goal.
Upon review, however, the call on the ice was upheld– Krejci’s goal would count, while New York’s bench was assessed a minor for delay of game, served by Jordan Eberle at 3:57 of the second period.
Upon leaving the box Eberle had a couple of quick chances denied by Rask, but within the vulnerable minute after special teams action, the Bruins were caught lagging as Barzal worked a quick pass to Kyle Palmieri (5) for the one-timer goal from point blank.
Both Boston defenders were below the goal line, while Charlie Coyle shattered his stick while trying to disrupt Palmieri’s reach in front of the crease (instead of just going for a stick lift or, you know, shoving Palmieri out of the way).
Barzal (5) and Eberle (4) tallied the assists on Palmieri’s goal as the Isles tied the game, 1-1, at 6:38 of the second period.
Moments later, Barzal delivered a few cross checks on Krejci, leading to No. 46 in black and gold retaliating with a swift spear, later determined to be a slash to Barzal.
The ref at the other end of the rink with full sight of all of the events that transpired leading to the outcome determined that only the retaliation was worthy enough of a penalty– at first handing out a five-minute major, only to be reviewed and downgraded to a minor.
Not only was it not the on-ice official closest to the play making the call, but the one at the other end with a clear line of sight for the multitude of infractions committed and yet… …at least there wasn’t another traumatic brain injury on full display.
Anyway, Krejci went to the box at 11:16 and the Bruins killed off the minor penalty.
Late in the middle frame, Charlie McAvoy caught Anthony Beauvillier with a high stick and was sent to the box at 19:06, yielding a power play to the Islanders that would extend into the final frame.
Through 40 minutes of action, the score was tied, 1-1, and shots on goal were even, 21-21, despite New York leading in shots on goal in the second period alone, 14-10.
Boston led in blocked shots (14-10), takeaways (2-1) and giveaways (8-5), while the Islanders lead in faceoff win% (55-45).
Both teams managed to amass 20 hits apiece, while the Isles were 0/2 and the B’s were 1/3 on the power play heading into the second intermission.
Barzal (2) batted a loose puck out of mid-air on an odd bounce past Rask to give the Islanders a, 2-1, lead at 13:03 of the third period and New York never looked back from that moment on.
Mayfield (4) and Noah Dobson (4) had the assists on Barzal’s eventual game-winning goal.
No penalties were called in the third period as the Bruins pulled Rask for an extra attacker with about 1:11 remaining in the game.
A forced turnover led to a chance for Casey Cizikas (2) to put the icing on the cake with an empty net goal to make it, 3-1, Isles with an assist for Cal Clutterbuck (1) at 18:57.
Rask vacated the crease once more as the Bruins were desperate to score a pair of goals in the final 63 seconds, but couldn’t muster anything as once more New York hit the back of the empty net– this time from Jean-Gabriel Pageau (3) with an assist by Leo Komarov (3) to make it, 4-1, for the Islanders at 19:57.
At the final horn, the Isles had won, 4-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 34-29, including a, 13-8, advantage in the thrid period alone.
New York wrapped up Saturday night’s effort leading in giveaways (11-9) and hits (30-27), while Boston led in blocked shots (20-13). The two teams split faceoff win%, 50-50, while the Isles went 0/2 and the Bruins went 1/3 on the power play.
The series is tied 2-2 as a result of the Islanders’ victory in Game 4 on Saturday, which means there will be a Game 6 after Game 5 on Monday in Boston.
Puck drop at TD Garden is scheduled to be at 6:30 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for the action, while those in Canada can choose between SN1 and TVAS.