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NHL Nick's Net

Secondary scoring catapults Bruins to, 5-1, victory in Detroit

The Boston Bruins scored five unanswered goals after giving up the game’s first goal to beat the Detroit Red Wings, 5-1, at Little Caesars Arena on Sunday.

Usual suspects, Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy, each had a goal, while Erik Haula, Trent Frederic and Tomáš Nosek chipped in tallies of their own– ending scoring droughts of varying lengths.

Jeremy Swayman (8-5-2, 2.20 goals-against average, .920 save percentage in 15 games played) made 23 saves on 24 shots against en route to the win for Boston.

Detroit netminder, Alex Nedeljkovic (9-8-3, 2.89 goals-against average, .913 save percentage in 22 games played), stopped 32 out of 37 shots faced in the loss.

The B’s improved to 16-10-2 (34 points) on the season and jumped ahead of the Red Wings for 4th place in the Atlantic Division standings.

For the second time this season, Boston is in a playoff position– holding onto the second wild card in the Eastern Conference as of this writing.

Detroit, meanwhile, fell to 15-15-3 (33 points) and dropped to 5th place in the Atlantic as a result.

Boston is 2-1-0 against the Red Wings this season with one final matchup remaining in their regular season series scheduled for April 5th in Detroit.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Karson Kuhlman (COVID protocol) and Curtis Lazar (undisclosed) on Sunday, while head coach Bruce Cassidy made one change to his lineup as a result.

Oskar Steen went in place of Lazar on the fourth line, having been recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) to the taxi squad after Saturday afternoon’s, 4-3, overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres and subsequently recalled from the taxi squad on Sunday prior to the warmup in Detroit.

Cassidy made no other changes to his lineup with Swayman getting the start over Linus Ullmark after Ullmark got the win in Saturday’s matinée.

John Moore (taxi squad) and Anton Blidh were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Sunday.

Robby Fabbri interfered with Brandon Carlo away from the puck and presented the Bruins with the afternoon’s first power play at 1:13 of the first period but the B’s couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing skater advantage.

A few minutes after Fabbri cut a rut to the box, Nosek skated off to the visiting penalty box for catching Tyler Bertuzzi with a high stick at 4:20 (whether Nosek actually made contact with his face or not– Bertuzzi might have clipped himself, though Nosek may have initiated it with a stick lift).

The Red Wings didn’t score on their first power play of the afternoon, regardless.

Midway through the opening frame, Danny DeKeyser sent a shot on goal that rebounded off of Swayman towards the sideboards before Bertuzzi (13) intercepted the loose puck and buried it in the twine to give Detroit a, 1-0, lead.

DeKeyser (3) and Dylan Larkin (15) tallied the assists on Bertuzzi’s goal– his fourth in four games– at 11:28 of the first period.

A few minutes after Bertuzzi scored, Boston answered.

Brad Marchand battled along the boards as Craig Smith came away with the puck before setting up Bergeron (11) for the one-timer goal while crashing the slot.

Smith (6) and Marchand (19) had the assists as the Bruins tied the game, 1-1, at 14:47 of the first period.

Late in the period, Nick Foligno shoved Filip Hronek in front of the net and delivered a swift cross check as the two escalated their battle.

Foligno, as a result, received a minor infraction for cross checking at 19:32 and the ensuing power play spilled over into the middle frame.

Detroit, however, didn’t capitalize on the skater advantage that was stretched over two periods with the first intermission in-between.

After 20 minutes, the game was tied, 1-1, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 15-6.

The Bruins also led in blocked shots (6-4) and giveaways (2-1), while the Red Wings led in hits (9-6) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Both teams had one takeaway each and were powerless on their respective power plays as Detroit was 0/2 and Boston was 0/1.

Marchand got tangled up with Vladislav Namestnikov early in the middle frame as the two exchanged blows, slashes and ultimately fists, yielding majors for fighting and minors for slashing at 2:59 of the second period.

It was the sixth fighting major of the season for Boston and first since Foligno fought New York Islanders forward, Matt Martin, on Dec. 16th at UBS Arena.

A few minutes later, pleasantries continued to be trending in the action as Swayman delivered a quick blow to Sam Gagner, resulting in a little retaliatory effort on Gagner’s behalf, as well as 4-on-4 action for two minutes as each player received unsportsmanlike conduct minors.

Haula served Swayman’s penalty, while Gagner served his own at 5:24 of the second period.

Shortly after both teams got their skater back from the sin bin, the Red Wings wired a shot wide of the net and around the glass where Haula was waiting by the blue line to break through the neutral zone.

Haula (2) sped down the ice and free from any defender before crossing into the attacking zone and zipping a wrist shot over Nedeljkovic’s high glove side to put the Bruins ahead, 2-1, at 7:37 on an unassisted effort.

It was also his first goal in 15 games.

About a minute later, Frederic cross checked Moritz Seider and took his trip to the penalty box at 8:47, but the Red Wings went scoreless on the resulting power play yet again.

Late in the second period, Jake DeBrusk caught Joe Veleno with a hook and brought the Detroit forward down before being sent to the box at 15:50.

Once more, the Red Wings went powerless on the power play, however.

The B’s carried a, 2-1, lead on the scoreboard through two periods and led in shots on goal, 23-16, despite being outshot by Detroit, 10-8, in the middle frame alone.

Boston also maintained control of blocked shots (11-5), while the Red Wings led in takeaways (2-1), giveaways (3-2), hits (16-9) and faceoff win% (54-46).

Neither team could buy a power play goal heading into the second intermission as Detroit was 0/4 and the Bruins went 0/1 on the skater advantage.

Boston got out of the gate on all cylinders to start the final frame.

Taylor Hall sent a pass to McAvoy (5) as the Bruins defender pinched in from the point on the right side for a catch and release goal over the glove from close range to extend the Bruins’ lead to two-goals at 5:59 of the third period.

Hall (10) and Charlie Coyle (8) notched the assists on McAvoy’s goal as Boston took a, 3-1, lead.

Almost two minutes later, Frederic (1) buried a rebound off of a shot by Mike Reilly from the point while Nedeljkovic was left playing catch up and extended the B’s lead to three goals at 7:55 of the third period.

Reilly (3) and Nosek (3) were credited with the assists on Frederic’s first goal of the season as the Bruins pulled ahead, 4-1, with a pair of goals in a span of 1:56.

Minutes later, Boston ended up scoring three goals in less than five minutes (4:41, to be exact) as Steen sent Nosek (3) into the attacking zone for a shot that slipped through Nedeljkovic’s five-hole at 10:39.

Steen (3) and McAvoy (15) had the assists on Nosek’s first goal since Nov. 20th in Philadelphia and the B’s led, 5-1.

About half a minute later, DeKeyser was sent to the box for holding, but the Bruins couldn’t capitalize on the resulting power play at 11:01.

Detroit resumed full strength then quickly went back on the penalty kill due to a minor infraction when Namestnikov tripped up DeBrusk at 13:15.

Once more, however, Boston didn’t score on the ensuing skater advantage.

At the final horn, the Bruins had sealed the deal on back-to-back wins on back-to-back days with a, 5-1, victory on the road in Detroit.

The B’s left Little Caesars Arena with the lead in shots on goal, 37-24– including a, 14-8, advantage in the third period alone– as well as the lead in blocked shots (14-10).

The Red Wings, meanwhile, exited their own building leading in giveaways (4-2), hits (26-15) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Neither team scored a power play goal on Sunday afternoon as Detroit went 0/4 and Boston went 0/3 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins improved to 6-6-2 (2-3-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-5-1 (1-2-1 on the road) when tied after the first period and 11-1-0 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The Red Wings fell to 9-4-2 (6-2-1 at home) when scoring first, 8-3-0 (6-2-0 at home) when tied after one and 2-12-1 (0-4-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins return home to host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday and Minnesota Wild on Thursday before hitting the road for a pair of games next Saturday (Jan. 8th) in Tampa against the Lightning and next Monday (Jan. 10th) in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals.

Boston is then currently scheduled to begin a seven-game homestand starting on Jan. 12th in a game that was originally scheduled to be played in Montréal against the Canadiens before the rise of the Omicron variant restricted indoor venue attendance across Canada.

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NHL Nick's Net

Islanders down Bruins, 3-1, Varlamov makes 40 saves

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.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Islanders will face Tampa in the Stanley Cup Semifinal

For the first time since 1979-84, the New York Islanders are heading to consecutive third round appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In “normal” years, the Islanders would be advancing to the Eastern Conference Final, however this season, in light of the ongoing global pandemic and subsequent temporary league realignment, New York is heading to the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal as result of their, 6-2, win over the Boston Bruins on home ice on Wednesday.

Brock Nelson scored his second career series-clinching goal in the Game 6 victory at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, trailing only Mike Bossy (six series-clinching goals) and Clark Gillies (four series-clinching goals) for the most in an Islanders uniform in franchise history.

A raucous Long Island crowd cheered as their “New York Saints” goaltender, Semyon Varlamov (4-3, 2.63 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in seven games played), made 23 saves on 25 shots against to win the series 4-2 and eliminate the Bruins as a result.

At the other end of the rink, 34-year-old pending-unrestricted free agent goaltender, Tuukka Rask (6-4, 2.45 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in 11 games played), turned aside 23 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.

Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, fell to 33-33 in his postseason tenure behind the bench for the B’s (parts of five seasons) and dropped to 36-36 in his career as an NHL head coach in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Washington Capitals and the Bruins.

Isles head coach, Barry Trotz, improved to 25-17 overall in the postseason with New York, as well as 80-75 in his 22-year career as a head coach in the NHL, including 14 postseason appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Nashville Predators, Capitals and Islanders.

The Bruins were without Kevan Miller (upper body), Brandon Carlo (undisclosed) and Curtis Lazar (lower body) on Wednesday, while Ondrej Kase (upper body) and John Moore (hip) remained shelved for the season.

As a result of Lazar’s injury, Jake DeBrusk was re-inserted into the lineup on the left side of the third line with Charlie Coyle at center and Karson Kuhlman on right wing.

Nick Ritchie was demoted to the fourth line with Sean Kuraly at center and Chris Wagner on right wing.

Cassidy made no other changes to his lineup for Game 6.

The Bruins had a long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players that included Nick Wolff, Trent Frederic, Greg McKegg, Zach Senyshyn, Lazar, Jack Studnicka, Carlo, Kase, Jaroslav Halak, Steven Kampfer, Cameron Hughes, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Oskar Steen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh and Miller.

Midway through the opening frame, Noah Dobson sent a shot on goal that generated a rebound right to Travis Zajac (1) who buried the puck from point blank as Rask had yet to find the puck.

Dobson (7) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (9) tallied the assists on the goal as the Islanders jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 8:52 of the first period.

Moments later, Anthony Beauvillier tripped up Charlie McAvoy and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result with a minor infraction at 14:13– presenting Boston with the game’s first power play, but the Bruins couldn’t score on the ensuing advantage.

Instead, as Casey Cizikas tripped Taylor Hall, the B’s ended up on a 5-on-3 skater advantage at 16:00 of the first period.

It didn’t take long for Boston to convert on the two-skater advantage as the Bruins whipped the puck around the attacking zone, first from Matt Grzelcyk along the point to David Krejci as Grzelcyk kept the play onside, then Krejci to David Pastrnak for the fake-shot pass to Brad Marchand (7) for a catch-and-release goal while Varlamov was caught behind the play.

Marchand’s power-play goal tied the game, 1-1, at 17:36 and was assisted by Pastrnak (8) and Krejci (6).

The two clubs entered the first intermission even on the scoreboard, 1-1, despite New York leading in shots on goal, 12-10.

The Isles also held the advantage in takeaways (2-1), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (9-8), hits (15-13) and faceoff win percentage (65-35).

Both teams managed to have three giveaways each in the opening frame, while only Boston had experienced any time on the power play and went 1/2 on the advantage heading into the middle period.

Kyle Palmieri shouldered McAvoy in the face after a stoppage in play early in the second period, sending the B’s defender to the ice and down the tunnel, though no penalty was called on the play.

McAvoy would later return in the period after a few shifts.

Kuhlman tripped up Mathew Barzal and presented the Islanders with their first and only power play of the night at 2:18 of the second period, but New York couldn’t muster anything in the resulting special teams action.

The Isles did, however, catch the B’s in the vulnerable minute after an advantage, as Nelson (5) emerged with a short breakaway after New York stole the puck in the neutral zone and beat Rask low on the glove side.

Josh Bailey (5) and Nick Leddy (5) tallied the assists on Nelson’s goal as the Islanders went ahead, 2-1, at 5:20 of the second period.

Nelson (6) scored his second of the night– back-to-back– moments later as Rask sent an errant pass to Mike Reilly that was too hot to handle for the Bruins defender, which Bailey quickly took and dished to Nelson on the doorstep.

Bailey (6) had the only assist on Nelson’s would be eventual game-winning goal as the Islanders extended their lead to two-goals, 3-1, at 12:39.

In the ensuing surge in momentum, Palmieri (7) managed to crash the net on a rebound and poke the loose puck through the Bruins goaltender to give New York a, 4-1, lead on an unassisted goal at 16:07.

Entering the second intermission, the Islanders led, 4-1, on the scoreboard and, 22-20, in shots on goal, despite both teams managing ten shots apiece in the second period alone.

New York held the advantage in blocked shots (16-15), takeaways (4-2) and giveaways (7-5), while Boston led in hits (26-23) and faceoff win% (61-40).

The Islanders were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Matt Martin tripped Jarred Tinordi at 5:20 of the third period and presented the Bruins with their final power play of the night.

It didn’t take Boston long as they won the resulting faceoff in the attacking zone before McAvoy sent it to Krejci as Marchand (8) wound up corralling Krejci’s quick dish in front and scored on a backhand shot while falling for his second goal of the night.

Krejci (7) and McAvoy (11) notched the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal at 5:38 and the Bruins trailed, 4-2.

Unlike in Game 5, though, Boston wouldn’t get enough going thereafter to attempt a comeback.

With 1:22 remaining in the game, Cassidy pulled Rask for an extra attacker, but it quickly backfired for the Bruins as Cal Clutterbuck (3) was the benefactor of an open goal frame and added some insurance with an empty net goal to make it, 5-2, New York.

Pageau (10) and Cizikas (2) had the assists on Clutterbuck’s goal at 19:01 of the third period.

The B’s pulled Rask again for an extra skater with about 53 seconds left, but Ryan Pulock (3) used the power of geometry to angle the puck off the boards, clear it down the ice and watch as it trickled over the goal line into Boston’s empty net to extend New York’s lead, 6-2.

Pulock’s goal was unassisted at 19:12 of the third period as the final horn sounded shortly thereafter to give the Islanders the, 6-2, victory in Game 6 and a 4-2 series win.

The B’s had previously lost to the Islanders in five games in the 1980 Quarterfinal and in six games in the 1983 Wales Conference Final. They fell to 0-3 all-time in a best-of-seven series versus New York.

Though Marchand’s pair of goals was enough to tie Milan Lucic, Cam Neely and Rick Middleton for the second most goals (8) in an elimination game in a Bruins uniform in franchise history in Boston’s all-time postseason stats, it wasn’t enough to outpace the lack of a defense all night for Boston.

New York finished Wednesday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 29-25, including a, 7-5, advantage in the third period alone and held the advantage in blocked shots (23-21), while Boston exited Long Island leading in giveaways (13-9), hits (33-28) and faceoff win% (57-43) in Game 6.

The Isles finished the game 0/1 and the Bruins went 2/3 on the power play, despite losing, 6-2, on the final scoreboard.

The Islanders advanced to the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal round where they will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in a rematch of their 2020 Eastern Conference Final series, in which the Bolts beat the Isles in six games before going on to defeat the Dallas Stars in another six games in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

No information has been provided yet as to when the next round of the playoffs will begin (likely this weekend) as the Colorado Avalanche look to stave off elimination on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena against the Vegas Golden Knights, who lead their Second Round series 3-2.

The winner of Colorado/Vegas will face the Montréal Canadiens in the other Stanley Cup Semifinal matchup.

Tampa and the winner of the Avalanche vs. Golden Knights series will have home ice in the next round.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Islanders breakthrough with, 4-1, win & tie series 2-2 heading back to Boston for Game 5

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.

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NHL Nick's Net

Swayman earns 1st career shutout in, 3-0, B’s win

Jeremy Swayman (4-1-0, 1.78 goals-against average, .939 save percentage in five games played) stopped all 25 shots that he faced en route to his first career National Hockey League shutout in Friday night’s, 3-0, win for the Boston Bruins against the New York Islanders at TD Garden.

All three Bruins acquired ahead of Monday’s trade deadline recorded a point in the effort, while Islanders netminder, Ilya Sorokin (11-4-1, 2.16 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 16 games played), made 25 saves on 27 shots against in the loss.

Boston improved to 24-12-6 (54 points) overall and remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while New York fell to 27-13-4 (58 points) and remained in 2nd place in the division.

The B’s also improved to 2-3-2 against the Isles this season.

The Bruins were 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 Friday.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup, with the exception of starting Swayman and scratching Tuukka Rask after Boston recalled Dan Vladar from the Providence Bruins (AHL) to serve as Swayman’s backup on the second night of back-to-back games for the B’s.

Rask is expected to go back into the net on Sunday.

The long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players included Frederic, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, Grzelcyk, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi and Miller.

Zach Senyshyn and Jack Ahcan were sent to Providence (AHL) on Friday.

Early in the opening frame, Mathew Barzal caught David Krejci with a high stick and was assessed a minor infraction as a result at 6:59 of the first period.

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing power play, however.

Late in the period, Sean Kuraly slashed Islanders defender, Noah Dobson, and cut a rut to the sin bin, but New York could not muster anything past Swayman on the resulting skater advantage at 15:28.

In the dying seconds of the first period, Mike Reilly kept the puck in the attacking zone, whereby Patrice Bergeron worked it to Reilly as the B’s defender pinched deep along the boards to about the goal line.

Reilly then threw a quick pass to David Pastrnak (17) for the one-timer in the slot past Sorokin to give Boston a, 1-0, lead at 19:57.

For the first time in eight games, Pastrnak scored a goal, while Reilly (21) and Bergeron (21) had the assists on the game’s first tally.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Islanders, 10-8, in shots on goal. New York also led in blocked shots (4-3), giveaways (3-2) and hits (15-9), while Boston led in takeaways (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (57-44).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Taylor Hall (4) redirected a pass from Krejci through Sorokin’s five-hole 47 seconds into the second period to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

Krejci (23) and Steven Kampfer (1) had the assists on Hall’s goal and the B’s led, 2-0.

Midway through the middle frame, Jordan Eberle elbowed Charlie McAvoy, yielding a power play to the Bruins at 11:09.

Shortly after making the kill, the Islanders went on the power play as Nick Ritchie cut a rut to the box at 13:24 of the second period for catching Eberle with a high stick.

After New York couldn’t score on the power play, Boston went back on the advantage when Matt Martin tripped McAvoy at 15:45, but the Bruins couldn’t score on the ensuing power play.

Finally, Kuraly sent the puck over the glass for an automatic delay of game penalty at 19:07, but the Islanders weren’t able to score on the power play, despite their advantage carrying over into the third period.

Boston led New York in shots on goal, 20-16, including a, 12-6, advantage in the second period alone.

Brad Marchand kicked things off in the final frame with a slashing minor against Oliver Wahlstrom 3:10 into the first period, but the Islanders weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.

Midway through the third period, Kuraly boarded Dobson at 9:55, but once more New York wasn’t able to capitalize on the skater advantage.

Isles head coach, Barry Trotz, pulled Sorokin for an extra attacker with 1:46 remaining in the game, but it was to no avail as Curtis Lazar (6) pocketed an empty net goal on an individual effort at 18:48.

At the final horn, the Bruins had beaten the Islanders, 3-o, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 28-25, despite trailing New York in shots on goal in the third period alone, 9-8.

The Isles wrapped up Friday’s effort leading in blocked shots (11-9), giveaways (12-3), hits (32-26) and faceoff win% (51-49).

New York went 0/5 on the power play, while Boston went 0/3 on Friday.

The B’s improved to 16-4-3 (8-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 13-0-2 (7-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 15-0-2 (10-0-2 at home) when leading after the second period this season.

The Islanders fell to 9-12-2 (3-10-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-7-2 (1-7-2 on the road) when trailing after one period and 3-11-1 (3-9-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods in 2020-21.

The Bruins close out their five-game homestand (2-1-0) against the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon before hitting the road for the next five games, including three games in Buffalo and two in Pittsburgh.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Preview: Game No. 29– Islanders @ Bruins

For the first time in a week, the Boston Bruins are set to play another game. This time, the B’s will be kicking off the second-half of their 2020-21 56-game regular season schedule against the New York Islanders at TD Garden on Thursday night.

Boston defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1, at KeyBank Center last Thursday (March 18th) without forward, Sean Kuraly, in the lineup as he had been placed in the league’s COVID protocol earlier that afternoon– jeopardizing that night’s action, when combined with the fact that the Sabres also had a positive test among their coaching staff– but nevertheless, the game went on as scheduled.

Until after the game.

Four more Bruins skaters were placed in COVID protocol, including Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith, which forced the postponement of last Saturday’s scheduled matchup with the Sabres in Buffalo and Tuesday’s scheduled home game against the Islanders.

Boston’s facilities were shutdown until Wednesday, when the team held practice for the first time since March 18th’s game action at 7 o’clock in the evening at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton.

Everyone except for DeBrusk and Kuraly came off of the National Hockey League’s COVID protocol list prior to practice on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, back in Buffalo last Thursday, Greg McKegg scored his first goal as a Bruin, DeBrusk added his third goal of the season, Smith notched his fifth and Pastrnak tallied his 14th goal of the year.

Krejci had three assists, surpassing 700 career points (all with Boston) in the process– becoming just the eighth player to do so in a Bruins uniform.

In 935 career NHL games, Krejci has 208-494–702 totals and trails Wayne Cashman (793 points) for the seventh-most points in a B’s jersey.

Jaroslav Halak made 23 saves on 24 shots against for a .958 save percentage in the win for Boston last Thursday, while Carter Hutton stopped 33 out of 37 shots faced for an .892 save percentage in Buffalo’s loss.

Now back to the present.

Entering Thursday night, the Bruins are 0-3-1 against the Islanders this season, with the most recent loss coming in a shootout, 2-1, on March 9th at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

New York is riding back-to-back wins against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 20th at home and March 22nd in Philadelphia as they enter Boston for the first time this season.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, provided a pregame update to reporters via Zoom and informed them that he expects Tuukka Rask to return to the lineup and get the start against the Isles on Thursday, while Jarred Tinordi and Trent Frederic will be game-time decisions.

Boston will be without Ondrej Kase, Kevan Miller, Jeremy Lauzon, Brandon Carlo, John Moore and Zach Senyshyn, though Carlo, Lauzon, Miller and Senyshyn are skating.

Moore underwent surgery on an undisclosed injury and is out longer-term, while Kase has no set timetable for when he’ll be back since sustaining an upper body injury in the second game of the season back on Jan. 16th in New Jersey.

Cassidy, meanwhile, is coaching in his 400th NHL game on Thursday night (177-74-38 overall in 289 games with Boston).

The Bruins (16-8-4, 36 points) are 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division as they embark on the second-half of their season, while New York leads the division with a 21-8-4 record (46 points).

The B’s are 7-3-1 on home ice this season and 5-3-2 in their last ten games, while the Isles enter TD Garden 8-7-2 on the road in 2020-21, as well as 8-2-0 in their last ten games.

Boston is 92-57-21-6 in 176 regular season meetings against the Islanders all time with 590 goals for and 501 goals against in that span.

New York is 18-20-2-4 in 44 games at TD Garden since the building was opened in 1995, outscoring the Bruins in that span, 134-113.

Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in scoring with 12-22–34 totals in 28 games played, while Pastrnak leads the team in goals scored (14), but trails Marchand for the second-most points with 14-12–26 totals in 21 games played this season.

Bruins captain, Patrice Bergeron, rounds out the top-three scorers with 25 points in 28 games and is four points away from tying Rick Middleton for the fourth most points with Boston in franchise history.

Bergeron has 362-532–894 totals in 1,117 career games with the Bruins, while Middleton had 898 points in 881 games with Boston from 1976-88.

Mathew Barzal leads the Islanders in scoring with 9-16–25 totals in 33 games this season, while Anders Lee and Brock Nelson are tied for the team lead in goals with 12.

Lee’s recent injury has limited him to 27 games and ruled him out for the rest of the season, while Nelson has attained 12-6-18 totals in 33 games.

Isles defender, Nick Leddy, is second on the team in scoring with 1-20–21 totals in 33 games, while Jordan Eberle and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each have 20 points for the third-most points on New York’s roster.

Eberle’s recorded 20 points in 33 games, while Pageau has 20 points in 32 games, including 4-1–5 totals in four games against Boston this season.

Rask (8-4-2, 2.46 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in 14 games played) is expected to get his first start since missing the last six games for Boston due to an undisclosed injury.

He is one win away from reaching the 300-win plateau and would be the first Bruins goaltender in franchise history to reach that mark.

Semyon Varlamov (13-6-3, 2.17 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 22 games played) is likely to get the start in net for the Islanders on Thursday.

The Bruins kick off a seven-game homestand on Thursday, which is tied for the longest home stretch in team history (Jan. 2-16, 2006).

For the first time since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic began last year, fans will be in attendance at TD Garden as the building is limited to 12% seating capacity.

Roughly 2,100 fans will be at a Bruins home game for the first time since March 7, 2020, instead of the usual sellout crowd of 17,850 since the building’s most recent renovations and development of The Hub on Causeway.

Expected lineups

Boston Bruins

63 Brad Marchand (A) 37 Patrice Bergeron (C) 88 David Pastrnak

21 Nick Ritchie 46 David Krejci (A) 12 Craig Smith

10 Anders Bjork 13 Charlie Coyle 83 Karson Kuhlman

11 Trent Frederic 18 Greg McKegg 14 Chris Wagner

48 Matt Grzlecyk 73 Charlie McAvoy

67 Jakub Zboril 75 Connor Clifton

84 Jarred Tinordi 44 Steven Kampfer

40 Tuukka Rask

41 Jaroslav Halak

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Zach Senyshyn (upper body), Jack Studnicka, Brandon Carlo (upper body), John Moore (undisclosed), Ondrej Kase (upper body), Sean Kuraly (COVID protocol), Jack Ahcan, Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand), Callum Booth, Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol), Dan Vladar, Kevan Miller (right knee)

New York Islanders

7 Jordan Eberle 47 Leo Komarov 13 Mathew Barzal

28 Michael Dal Colle 29 Brock Nelson (A) 12 Josh Bailey (A)

18 Anthony Beauvillier 44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau 26 Oliver Wahlstrom

17 Matt Martin 53 Casey Cizikas 15 Cal Clutterbuck (A)

3 Adam Pelech 6 Ryan Pulock

2 Nick Leddy 4 Andy Greene

34 Thomas Hickey 24 Scott Mayfield

40 Semyon Varlamov

30 Ilya Sorokin

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Anders Lee (knee), TBA

Goaltending stats entering Thursday

Boston Bruins

40 Tuukka Rask 8-4-2 in 14 GP, 2.46 GAA, .906 SV%, 0 SO

41 Jaroslav Halak 7-4-2 in 13 GP, 2.06 GAA, .921 SV%, 2 SO

70 Callum Booth 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

80 Dan Vladar 1-0-0 in 1 GP, 1.00 GAA, .971 SV%, 0 SO

New York Islanders

30 Ilya Sorokin 8-2-1 in 11 GP, 1.97 GAA, .922 SV%, 2 SO

35 Cory Schneider 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

40 Semyon Varlamov 13-6-3 in 22 GP, 2.17 GAA, .923 SV%, 3 SO

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins lose big in, 7-2, blowout to Islanders

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).

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NHL Nick's Net

Varlamov, Islanders shutout Bruins, 1-0

Semyon Varlamov earned his league-leading 2nd shutout this season in as many games as the New York Islanders beat the Boston Bruins, 1-0, Monday night at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Varlamov (2-0-0, 0.00 goals against average, 1.000 save percentage in two games played) made 27 saves en route to the shutout win for New York.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (1-1-0, 1.46 GAA, .923 SV% in two games played) stopped 16 out of 17 shots faced for a .941 SV% in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 1-1-1 (three points) on the season and dropped to a tie for 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Islanders improved to 2-1-0 on the season (four points) and moved up to a tie for 2nd place with the Philadelphia Flyers– at least temporarily, as the Flyers were in action Monday night.

Boston also fell to 18-3-1 in their last 22 games against New York in the regular season.

Prior to puck drop, the Islanders aired a National Hockey League produced video on the Jumbotron celebrating the 63rd anniversary of when Willie O’Ree broke the league’s color barrier on Jan. 18, 1958, with the Bruins.

All 31 teams have been sporting O’Ree decals on their helmets with the words “Celebrating Equality” emblazoned on a profile of O’Ree wearing his famous fedora for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend.

O’Ree will have his No. 22 retired by Boston ahead of their matchup with the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 18th this season. They will honor him again as soon as possible whenever fans will be allowed at TD Garden.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few changes to his lineup with Ondrej Kase (upper body) out against the Islanders on Monday.

Patrice Bergeron centered the first line with Brad Marchand in his usual spot on the left wing, while Jake DeBrusk was moved up to the first line right wing.

Nick Ritchie took DeBrusk’s usual spot on the second line left wing with David Krejci at center and Jack Studnicka on the right wing.

Charlie Coyle centered the third line with Anders Bjork to his left and Craig Smith to his right, while the fourth line remained untouched.

On defense, Jeremy Lauzon and Charlie McAvoy remained paired, while Matt Grzelcyk was partnered with Brandon Carlo and Jakub Zboril had Kevan Miller by his side.

Monday night marked 300 career NHL games for Carlo and 200 career NHL games for Grzelcyk. Both defenders have spent their entire careers with Boston thus far.

Kase missed his first game this season due to injury after taking a stick up high in Saturday afternoon’s, 2-1, overtime loss in New Jersey, while David Pastrnak missed his third straight game and is yet to make his season debut after offseason hip surgery.

Pastrnak remains ahead of schedule, however, and is likely to return before his original prognosis of Feb. 16th.

Greg McKegg, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Connor Clifton and Dan Vladar were in the press box as healthy scratches and taxi squad members Monday night.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Carlo cross checked Matt Martin and presented the first power play of the evening to the Islanders at 7:25 of the first period.

New York wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Late in the period, Isles forward, Casey Cizikas, knocked down Coyle without the puck and earned a trip to the penalty box for interference at 16:40.

Boston was not able to score on the resulting power play.

Entering the first intermission, the game remained tied, 0-0, while the Bruins were leading in shots on goal, 11-3.

New York held the advantage in blocked shots (7-3), takeaways (3-1) and hits (9-6), while both teams had three giveaways each, were 50-50 in faceoff win percentage and 0/1 on the power play after 20 minutes on Monday.

Adam Pelech was guilty of holding Marchand 53 seconds into the second period and presented the Bruins with their second power play opportunity of the night.

Boston’s skater advantage was cut short, however, as Ritchie slashed Scott Mayfield and earned a trip to the sin bin at 1:43 of the middle frame.

New York earned a short power play after an abbreviated 4-on-4 sequence, but the Isles still weren’t able to score on the power play.

The Islanders lost count at one point and had too many skaters on the ice, resulting in a bench minor that was served by Jordan Eberle at 6:53.

Boston’s power play was powerless and New York got by unscathed.

Late in the period, Smith clipped Varlamov in the skate with his stick, which Varlamov embellished for dramatic affect, but was goaltender interference nonetheless.

The Islanders went back on the power play with Smith in the box for goaltender interference at 15:45, but Boston’s penalty kill held their ground.

Through 40 minutes of action on Monday, the game was still tied, 0-0, despite the Bruins outshooting the Islanders, 17-10.

New York, however, actually led in shots on goal in the second period alone, 7-6, as well as in blocked shots (11-10), takeaways (7-1), giveaways (8-4), hits (20-15) and faceoff win% (60-40) heading into the second intermission.

Both teams were 0/3 on the power play prior to the final frame of regulation.

Marchand cross-checked Eberle to kick things off with a trip to the penalty box at 1:17 of the third period.

Once again, though, Boston’s penalty kill did not concede to New York’s power play.

Moments later, Eberle tripped Grzelcyk while the two players were tied up– causing Grzelcyk to fall awkwardly to the ice and leave the game with an upper body injury (he was favoring his left arm, for the record).

Trent Frederic served Grzelcyk’s interference infraction, while Eberle was assessed a tripping minor at 5:43, resulting in 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes early in the period.

Late in the period, Jean-Gabriel Pageau (1) hit a home run on a puck that was floating in mid-air as Pelech fired a shot that deflected off of Bergeron’s stick before Pageau whacked it into the twine above Rask’s blocker side.

Pelech (1) and Ryan Pulock (1) tallied the assists on the game’s first and only goal at 15:51 of the third period.

The Islanders took the, 1-0, lead and that was enough for the final result on Monday.

Less than a minute later, McAvoy was called for holding against Anthony Beauvillier at 16:07, but once again New York’s power play was powerless.

With 1:35 remaining in the game, Rask vacated his net for an extra attacker.

The Bruins used their timeout after a stoppage with 51.4 seconds left in the action, but it was to no avail.

At the final horn, the Islanders had won, 1-0, and Varlamov recorded the shutout.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 27-17, including a, 10-7, advantage in the third period alone, while New York wrapped up Monday night’s action leading in blocked shots (17-12), hits (31-26) and faceoff win% (51-49).

The Bruins held the final advantage in giveaways (10-9) on Monday.

The Islanders finished the game 0/5 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 0/3 on the power play.

The Bruins finished their three-game road trip 1-1-1 to start the 2020-21 56-game regular season.

Boston returns home to face the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday and Saturday for their first two home games of the season at TD Garden. The B’s then host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 26th and 28th before hitting the road again.

For the first time since Nov. 2, 2013, the Islanders beat the Bruins on home ice. New York beat Boston, 3-1, that day.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #214- 2020-21 Season Preview: West Division

Zdeno Chara signed with the Washington Capitals, the AHL announced plans for the 2020-21 season, the NHL divisions are sponsored for 2020-21, what’s going on with the New York Islanders, Pierre-Luc Dubois wants out (maybe) and we preview the West Division for the 2020-21 season.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Take Five: Five takeaways from Game 3 of the 2020 Eastern Conference Final

Matt Martin and Barclay Goodrow exchanged fisticuffs after a faceoff with 27.2 seconds left in the third period after the New York Islanders scored an empty net goal to seal the deal on a, 5-3, victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the 2020 Eastern Conference Final.

In short, we have a series and the powder keg just might be ready to explode.

Oh yeah and Brock Nelson scored the game-winning goal late in the third period before Jean-Gabriel Pageau added an insurance goal with the empty net tally while he was hooked and slashed by Lightning forward, Nikita Kucherov.

Game 4 should contain a little bit of everything and a lot of excitement if things keep trending in the direction of a budding rivalry as Tampa leads the series 2-1. Puck drop on Sunday is set for a little after 3 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBC, while those in Canada can catch the action on CBC, SN or TVAS.

1. Can’t give Tampa an inch.

The Islanders have made a habit in the last couple of games where, despite playing more to the beat of their own drum, New York can’t seem to hold a lead on prevent defense alone.

If New York is going to win more games, they’re going to need more offensive outbursts like they had– if you can call it that– in Game 3.

The Isles are going to need their defenders to defend, their two-way bottom-six players to contribute 100% and their top-six forwards to outscore the Lightning who can, in fact, score from any position in their lineup.

Well, we haven’t seen Bolts goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, score yet, but I wouldn’t put it past him.

Tampa is in the midst of one of those “anything is possible” postseasons and if New York wants to take control of that narrative– they can’t let the Lightning play their game.

2. Matchups.

A common theme from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the First Round to the Boston Bruins in the Second Round to, yes, even the Islanders in the Eastern Conference Final is that they simply don’t have the right matchups to go against the big scary, nasty, Lightning.

New York’s head coach, Barry Trotz, scratched Casey Cizikas and Andrew Ladd for Derick Brassard and Michael Dal Colle.

While Brassard’s (three hits, one blocked shot in 10:32 time on ice, 54 seconds of time on the power play) impact can be felt as a glue guy with a more well-rounded approach to today’s game– especially against Tampa– more so than a guy like Ladd, Trotz has kept Dal Colle’s time limited (9:54 TOI in Game 3).

Nonetheless, Leo Komarov centering the fourth line with Brasard and Dal Colle is a significant improvement in speed and mustering the puck where you want it to go while giving your top forwards some time to recover before going over the boards to generate more offense.

It should be ride or die with this fourth line for the time being.

3. More of the same, kind of.

The Islanders trailed the Lightning in shots on goal, 37-35, but stymied Tampa with some solid goaltending from Semyon Varlamov (10-5 in 17 games played, 16 starts, 2.26 goals against average, .913 save percentage, two shutouts) and the overall schematics interwoven in Trotz’s game plan.

New York really wore Tampa down as the game progressed and capitalized on their chances, but the backdoor was left open for large stretches of the game, which the Bolts took full advantage of– tying the game, 1-1, at 16:31 of the first period, courtesy of Mikhail Sergachev’s second goal this postseason and even pulled even after trailing by two-goals, 3-1, entering the third period.

Ondrej Palat (7) scored a power-play goal at 2:32 and Tyler Johnson (4) tied the game, 3-3, at 12:04 of the third period.

Now, it’s important to note that Game 3 was more of the same for New York until they realized they needed a 60-minute effort and that nothing about Game 3 was the same for Tampa, since Brayden Point was not in the lineup due to injury.

Yes, the Lightning did not have the services of their leading scorer and head coach, Jon Cooper, wouldn’t provide much of an update (if even an update at all, really) ahead of Friday night’s action.

4. Nikita Kucherov has his moments. Don’t take the bait.

Kucherov hooked and slashed Pageau while skating towards and immediately as/after he shot the rubber biscuit into the empty twine to secure the, 5-3, win for the Isles.

Pageau took exception to what Kucherov was already going to be penalized for had Pageau inexplicably missed the open net and caused a scrum instead of a proper goal celebration at 19:24 of the third period.

Kucherov has been suspended in the past– specifically for an illegal hit to the head last postseason– and shouldn’t distract the Islanders from stooping to his level when he crosses a line.

The goal should always be to get your revenge on the scoreboard– especially if the officials on the ice are making the right call in accordance with the rule book.

Otherwise, the Islanders don’t need to amass any retaliation penalties for what’s either an invite to the descent into an ugly outing or simply the overt frustrations of a player that has shown an intent to injure and should be reprimanded as such.

None of that takes away from Kucherov’s ability to score, as long as he isn’t out of the lineup due to his own on-ice behavior.

5. Is somebody getting the best, the best, the best of you?

Don’t let emotions get in the way of the game.

You could argue this goes hand-in-hand with the takeaway above, but 1) all five takeaways are pretty similar after Game 3 and 2) this one has more to do with the toughness of each team’s lineup.

For the Islanders, there’s no need to fear Tampa’s tough guys. New York didn’t need to add any toughness at the trade deadline– they already had Martin, Komarov and crew.

The Lightning did.

They got Blake Coleman and Goodrow, which makes them tougher, but cannot negate the cohesion that Islanders General Manager, Lou Lamoriello, has planned since day one.

As long as the Isles play their cards right, Tampa’s style might take them over the edge and into undisciplined turmoil.

As always, make them pay on the scoreboard and in good, clean, hits.

That goes for both teams, in case Lightning fans were thinking this was solely about New York.