Cal Clutterbuck had a pair of goals, while Semyon Varlamov made a season-high 40 saves en route to his first win of the season as the New York Islanders defeated the Boston Bruins, 3-1, at UBS Arena on Thursday.
Varlamov (1-5-1, 2.99 goals-against average, .900 save percentage in eight games played) turned aside 40 out of 41 shots faced in the win, while Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (7-5-0, 2.52 goals-against average, .922 save percentage in 12 games played) made 25 saves on 27 shots against in the loss.
Boston fell to 14-10-2 (30 points) on the season and remained in 5th place in the Atlantic Division, while New York improved to 8-12-5 (21 points) overall and stuck in 8th place in the Metropolitan Division.
The B’s visited UBS Arena for the first time since it opened last month and will visit one more arena that’s new to the National Hockey League circuit when they visit the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on Feb. 24th.
Jakub Zboril (lower body) remained out of the lineup while Brad Marchand and Craig Smith were joined in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol by Patrice Bergeron, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh, Jeremy Swayman and Oskar Steen, as well as two team staff members.
The Bruins announced Steen’s addition to the league COVID protocol as both clubs started warming up on Thursday night.
Due to salary cap constraints, defender, John Moore, was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday, while Jesper Frödén and Kyle Keyser were recalled from Providence on Thursday.
Bruce Cassidy was forced to make several lineup changes as Boston went with 11 forwards as a result of losing seven players to COVID protocol ahead of Thursday night’s action.
Charlie Coyle centered the first line with Taylor Hall at left wing and David Pastrnak at right wing, while Tomáš Nosek centered the second line with Erik Haula and Nick Foligno on his wings.
Jack Studnicka centered the third line and was flanked by Jake DeBrusk as well as Frödén, who made his NHL debut in the process.
On the fourth line, Curtis Lazar and Karson Kuhlman took shifts with a rotating cast of wingers to complete the line.
With Moore out of the lineup, Mike Reilly returned to the third defensive pairing alongside Connor Clifton.
In net, Keyser served as Ullmark’s backup with Swayman in COVID protocol and Tuukka Rask still unsigned as an unrestricted free agent that’s recovering from major offseason hip surgery.
Boston’s long list of scratches on Thursday included Swayman, Frederic, Smith, Bergeron, Steen, Marchand, Zboril and Blidh.
Early in the opening frame Kyle Palmieri slashed Derek Forbort and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result, yielding the night’s first power play to the Bruins at 5:23 of the first period.
The B’s weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.
Midway through the first period, Matt Martin won a battle along the endboards– utilizing a strong forecheck to free the puck on a turnover from the trapezoid to Clutterbuck (4), who was standing in the right place at the right time in the slot to bury the rubber biscuit and give the Islanders a, 1-0, lead at 11:47.
Clutterbuck’s first goal of the game was unassisted.
Less than a minute later, Haula caught Isles defender, Andy Greene with a high stick, but New York failed to capitalize on the resulting power play at 12:00 of the first period.
Entering the first intermission, the Islanders led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and held a, 10-9, advantage in shots on goal.
The Bruins, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (5-3), takeaways (1-0), giveaways (11-4) and hits (13-11), while both teams managed to split faceoff win percentage, 50-50, and went 0/1 on the power play after one period.
Forbort caught Clutterbuck with a high stick six seconds into the second period and it didn’t take the Isles long to score on the resulting power play.
Anthony Beauvillier (4) sent a shot that might have deflected off of a Bruins skater’s stick and over Ullmark’s glove– just under the bar– to extend New York’s lead to two-goals.
Robin Salo (1) and Justin Bailey (9) tallied the assists– marking the first career point in just his seventh NHL game for Salo, while giving the Islanders a, 2-0, lead on Beauvillier’s power-play goal at 1:44 of the second period.
Midway through the middle frame, Foligno and Martin became entangled and exchanged fisticuffs resulting in five-minute majors for each of them, as well as an extra two minutes for Foligno for roughing at 9:22.
Frödén served Foligno’s minor infraction and Boston suffered no consequences on the resulting penalty kill.
Through 40 minutes of action at UBS Arena on Thursday, the Islanders led, 2-0, on the scoreboard despite being outshot by the Bruins, 29-22, including a, 21-12, advantage for Boston in the second period alone.
The B’s led in blocked shots (10-5), takeaways (3-1), giveaways (13-8) and hits (20-16), while New York led in faceoff win% (55-46).
The Isles were 1/3 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.
Early in the third period, Zdeno Chara tripped Hall and presented Boston with another power play at 3:25, but the Bruins’ advantage was short lived.
A minute after Chara skated to the sin bin, his former defensive partner, Charlie McAvoy, cut a rut to the opposing team’s box for cross checking at 4:25.
The two teams skated at 4-on-4 for a minute before the Islanders went on an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.
New York couldn’t muster anything past Ullmark and, instead, took another penalty when Brock Nelson hooked Matt Grzelcyk at 5:27.
After a short stint at 4-on-4, Boston had another abbreviated power play that went by the wayside.
Moments later, Grzelcyk went to the box for interference at 10:25, but the Isles failed to convert on the resulting power play.
With 2:55 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as it didn’t take long for Anders Lee to send a pass across the neutral zone to Clutterbuck (5) for an empty net goal after he crossed into the attacking zone.
Lee (1) had the only assist on Clutterbuck’s second goal of the game and the Islanders led, 3-0, at 17:43 of the third period.
In the dying minute of the night’s action, Reilly (3) pinched in from the point and sent a shot over Varlamov’s high glove side after it deflected off of Scott Mayfield– cutting New York’s lead back to two goals.
Brandon Carlo (3) and Ullmark (1) recorded the assists on Reilly’s goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-1, at 19:06 of the third period.
With 37.2 seconds remaining in regulation, Ullmark skated to the bench for an extra attacker.
Clutterbuck sent a shot attempt towards the empty frame that just went wide as it hit the post and prevented hats from raining down from the stands.
At the final horn, New York had won, 3-1, despite being outshot by Boston, 41-28, including a, 12-6, advantage for the Bruins in the third period alone.
The B’s exited the building leading in blocked shots (13-11), giveaways (17-12) and hits (26-22), while the Isles led in faceoff win% (58-42).
New York finished the night 1/5 on the power play, while Boston went powerless on the skater advantage, 0/3.
The B’s fell to 4-6-2 (1-3-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-5-1 (0-3-0 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 2-7-2 (0-4-1 on the road) when losing after two periods this season.
The Islanders, on the other hand, improved to 7-4-4 (1-1-1 at home) when scoring first, 5-1-1 (1-0-0 at home) when leading after one and 8-1-1 (2-0-0 at home) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.
As of now, the Bruins are scheduled to travel to Montréal to square off with the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday before venturing to Kanata, Ontario to take on the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday.
Boston returns home next Tuesday to host the Carolina Hurricanes before taking on the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 23rd in their final game before the league’s three-day Christmas break.