Isles Get Best Of Bruins In Potential Playoff Preview
In a potential playoff preview, the Islanders came into the Garden and proved they can play with the big boys. They took advantage of a couple Bruins‘ mistakes and continued their recent surge, improving to 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Ultimately, it was a seeing-eye shot and a very late goal that led to the 21st win of the year for New York and 10th loss of the season for the Bruins.
Evgeni Nabokov made 30 saves as he led the Islanders to their third consecutive win. As the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, New York was the better one in the third period and was able to hold on to the lead despite a late push from the B’s. Nabokov improved to 4-1-0 in his last five starts and the Isles remain in the seventh spot in the East with 48 points as both they and the Senators won. Boston fell back to fourth with the loss and a win by the Canadiens.
“We kind of ran out of gas. I think it was pretty obvious as the game wore on that they had lots of energy and we had less,” said Claude Julien after the game. However, he added, “I can see our team turning the corner and we’re heading in the right direction – a lot of positive tonight.”
The first period was pretty uneventful aside from a chance from the third line halfway through, but due to a quick whistle while the puck was actually still loose in the crease, Boston couldn’t convert with Jordan Caron bidding for his second of the year. Things looked like they would be scoreless heading into the intermission, but a late mistake by Nathan Horton led to a New York goal with just 20.5 seconds left on the clock. Horton went for the steal in the offensive end, but couldn’t get his stick on the puck and it led to a four-on-two break for the Isles. Josh Bailey moved over the blue line and fired a slapper that beat Tuukka Rask over his left shoulder to make it 1-0 after the B’s controlled much of the play and led in shots, 16-9. Assists went to Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo on Bailey’s eighth of the year.
“I thought we had, uh, pretty much most of the momentum during that period and they got a good goal there in the last minute of play – something we don’t want to do but, you know, we’re in that position right now where we just can’t have our heads down and be ready for the next period,” said Daniel Paille after the first.
New York came out surging in the second and if it was not for Rask, they would certainly have extended their lead early on. They had at least three good chances on their first shift, which lasted somewhere around 90 seconds and was nearly all offensive zone time. The TD Garden crowd let out a sarcastic when when the B’s finally cleared the puck out of the zone.
The teams would go on to trade goals in the period with Tyler Seguin scoring his second goal in as many nights and 14th of the season just 3:41 into the period as former Bruin, Brad Boyes, was in the box for delay of game. He and Gregory Campbell got behind the Islanders’ penalty killers and as the puck deflected to Campbell, he fed it across the crease to Seguin for the one-timed wrister to tie the game. Jaromir Jagr got the second assist and now has six points in five games as a Bruin.
Rask kept up his strong play as he first robbed Keith Aucoin in the slot and then made a split save on Matt Moulson after a Zdeno Chara turnover. Moulson was even surprised that Tuukka got it as he had begun to raise his hands in celebration.
He couldn’t keep it up forever, however, and with 6:48 left in the second, Bailey struck again – again off a preventable mistake. He just went around Adam McQuaid, who was back after missing 11 games with a shoulder injury, in the neutral zone and outfought him for the 50-50 puck. Bailey controlled the bouncer and ripped a wrist shot on net from the left circle. Rask got most of it, but the puck trickled through him and just slid over the goal line to make it 2-1, New York.
Chris Kelly had the Bruins’ best chance in the remainder of the period as he just missed the left post off of a Chara feed down low. The Isles outshot the Bruins, 19-8, in the second due, in large part, to the opening flurry and Boston began the third period trailing by a goal.
“We had enough chances to win the game,” said Jagr. “It just didn’t happen tonight.”
Bailey’s second of the night held up as the game-winner as the B’s couldn’t get anything in the third and fell out of first place with the 2-1 loss. Despite picking up the intensity midway through the third, they couldn’t fight through the fact that it was their third game in four nights and ultimately, the turnovers in their own end and the lack of scoring in this one led to the tough loss.
“Playing three games in four days does take its toll. We had a great start…but I guess that [late goal] put us down a little bit,” said Matt Bartkowski after the game. “We couldn’t score; we didn’t have the scoring we had the last [few] games.”
The three stars of the game were Bailey, Nabokov and Rask.
The Bruins fell to 2-4 in the second of back-to-backs this season and will be back at it on Saturday night as they visit the Hurricanes (16-22-2) for a rematch of last week’s contest.
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