The Boston Bruins may have scored first, but the New York Islanders scored four unanswered goals to win, 4-1, Thursday night at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York.
Ilya Sorokin (15-11-5, 2.46 goals-against average, .921 save percentage in 31 games played) made 26 saves on 27 shots against in the win for the Islanders.
Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (16-8-1, 2.79 goals-against average, .909 save percentage in 26 games played) stopped 25 out of 28 shots faced in the loss.
Boston fell to 27-17-4 (58 points) overall and remains in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.
With the win, New York improved to 18-20-6 (42 points) on the season and stuck in 6th place in the Metropolitan Division.
Patrice Bergeron returned to action after missing the last three games with an upper body injury (lacerations on the back of his head after being injured on Feb. 8th against Pittsburgh).
He returned to his usual role as the first line center and was flanked by Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak in the process.
On defense, Urho Vaakanainen returned to the lineup after missing his fourth game this season with an upper body injury that he sustained on Feb. 1st against the Seattle Kraken.
Vaakanainen was slotted on the third pairing alongside Derek Forbort– rendering Connor Clifton as a healthy scratch against the Islanders.
The Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Brad Marchand (suspension) on Thursday.
Meanwhile, head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled the lines with Bergeron back in action– relegating Erik Haula to third line duties in the process with Jake DeBrusk at left wing and Nick Foligno on right wing.
Everything else was left untouched from Tuesday night’s, 2-1, shootout loss at the New York Rangers.
With Vaakanainen activated from the injured reserve and back in the lineup, Jack Ahcan was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday.
Jack Studnicka, Marchand, Zboril and Clifton served as Boston’s short list of players that were out of Thursday’s action as healthy scratches and/or suspended or injured players.
Midway through the opening frame, Noah Dobson hooked Bergeron and presented the Bruins with their first power play at 10:57 of the first period.
Boston couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage and took a penalty of their own moments later when Anton Blidh was penalized for interference at 14:18.
The Islanders were unsuccessful on the resulting power play.
About a minute after the B’s killed off Blidh’s infraction, Craig Smith setup Hall as Hall (11) raced towards the net and beat Sorokin on the short side to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 17:26 of the first period.
Smith (10) and Mike Reilly (7) tallied the assists on Hall’s goal and Boston carried the, 1-0, lead into the first intermission, while outshooting the Islanders, 13-6.
Both teams had six blocked shots each, zero takeaways and went 0/1 on the power play through one period.
New York led in giveaways (4-2) and hits (9-4), while the Bruins held the advantage in faceoff win percentage (53-47) heading into the middle frame.
Haula tripped Oliver Wahlstrom at 10:28 of the second period and yielded a power play to the Islanders as a result.
It didn’t take the Isles long to strike on the skater advantage as Dobson let go of a shot from the point that dropped to the ice in the crease after Ullmark made the initial save, but Jean-Gabriel Pageau (7) was on the door step to collect the garbage and tie the game, 1-1, at 11:30 of the second period.
Dobson (14) and Mathew Barzal (21) notched the assists on Pageau’s power-play goal.
There were no more goals and no more penalties for the rest of the second period as the two teams went into the second intermission tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard.
Despite New York outshooting Boston, 13-7, in the second period alone, the Bruins led in shots on goal, 20-19, through 40 minutes of action.
The Islanders led in takeaways (1-0), giveaways (7-6) and hits (24-14), while the B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (10-8) and faceoff win% (56-44).
The Isles were 1/2 on the power play, while the Bruins remained 0/1 on the skater advantage entering the final frame.
DeBrusk turned the puck over in his own end while Brock Nelson worked the rubber biscuit around the boards and back to the point where Dobson (8) threw a shot with eyes through traffic past Ullmark to give the Islanders their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 5:50 of the third period.
Nelson (9) had the only assist on what would become the game-winning goal as the Bruins couldn’t keep up.
Midway through the third period, Cal Clutterbuck interfered with Trent Frederic and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result at 10:14.
Boston failed to convert on the ensuing advantage.
Moments later, Frederic made a big hit on Kieffer Bellows as the puck rebounded and Boston’s defenders were momentarily preoccupied as Ullmark was out of position.
Barzal (12) (who had just skated around the back of the net to reach the other side) timed it perfectly for a layup goal on the rebound to extend New York’s lead to two-goals.
Bellows (7) and Adam Pelech (12) had the assists on Barzal’s goal and the Islanders led, 3-1, at 13:32 of the third period.
With 2:53 remaining in the action, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra skater. It did not go well.
Zdeno Chara tried to clear New York’s defensive zone and inadvertently sent an indirect pass off the glass to Nelson in the neutral zone, whereby Nelson (16) skated closer to the open frame and buried an empty net goal to give the Islanders a, 4-1, lead at 18:47.
Chara (7) had the only assist on Nelson’s goal.
At the final horn, the Islanders sealed the deal on three unanswered goals in the third period to win, 4-1, on home ice.
New York finished the night leading in shots on goal, 29-27, including a, 10-7, advantage in the third period alone.
The Isles also held the advantage in blocked shots (15-11) and hits (35-20), while Boston left UBS Arena leading in giveaways (11-9) and faceoff win% (60-40).
The Islanders finished the night 1/2 on the power play, while the Bruins went 0/2 on the skater advantage.
The B’s dropped to 19-7-1 against teams currently outside of a playoff spot and 0-2-0 against the Islanders this season.
Boston fell to 18-7-1 (9-3-1 on the road) when scoring first, 17-2-1 (9-1-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 5-3-0 (0-2-0 on the road) when tied after the second period this season.
New York improved to 5-16-2 (5-9-2 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-14-2 (2-7-1 at home) when trailing after one and 2-2-3 (1-2-3 at home) when tied after two periods in 2021-22.
The Bruins conclude their four-game road trip (1-1-1) against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday.
Boston returns home to host the Colorado Avalanche next Monday in a matinée matchup that was originally scheduled for Dec. 23rd before hitting the road again on a trip through Seattle, San Jose and Los Angeles to wrap up the month of February.
The B’s open the month of March in Anaheim before visiting Vegas and Columbus.