It's as I mentioned the last time I was on recap duty: this season is going to be more full of ups and downs any one in recent memory, and some nights that makes for pretty exciting hockey, even when the Brooklyn ice is a bit choppy.
The second trip to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Bruins was a redux of the first, result-wise, but it was a much different game than October 23rd's 5-3 victory. This became the old "score a couple and let Rask shut down the opposition," model of victory, which has been largely missing this year, and it was good to see. Heck, it was good to see any kind of victory, given the circumstances; the Bruins were coming in on the second half of a road back-to-back, playing their third game in four days, against an Islanders squad on a more normal schedule.
Signs of fatigue would eventually appear, but there was no such thing in the first. The Bruins and Islanders played a rather frenetic first, each team pouring eleven shots on goal, with the only marker being Ryan Spooner's PPG which gave the good guys the lead at [time]. Rask stopped all eleven of the Islanders shots, which would be a theme for most of the night.
As mentioned in the preview, the Bruins really could use a shot in the arm from their third unit, which has been struggling of late. In this one, it ended up that a member of that line provided the vaccine from the man-advantage, with Spooner snapping a shot home from the right side to finish a tic-tac-toe play on the 5-on-3.
The Islanders are a good team, and they came out firing to start the second. Sadly for the Isles and happily for Boston, the all-important "next goal" went to Patrice Bergeron, who flung a shot that deflected off Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy, who was about to make Brad Marchand couldn't deflect it in, and by Jaroslav Halak at 14:13 of the second. 2-0 Bruins, and things were made worse for the Isles when one of the few shots that actually beat Rask on the night rang harmlessly off the post. Compounding this, Rask also robbed Cal Clutterbuck on a shorthanded chance. Did I mention that Tuukka Rask played well?
The third was a penalty parade for Boston that still makes it feel somewhat surreal that the Bruins managed to win without overtime being involved. Thank Tuukka. Here's what the penalty summary for third period was like:
Given the ineffectiveness of the Bruins Penalty Kill to date, you might expect a 2-0 advantage to evaporate rather quickly. Yet somehow, the Isles ended up 1-for-7 on the night (1-for-6 if you discount Beleskey putting them on a two-second Power Play at the end of the game).
Well, we said "1-for-7," and the score is in the post title, so sorry for the spoilers. But when the Isles finally did get on the board, it came in the form of a totally unstoppable 5-on-3 rocket from old pal Johnny Boychuk. While Rask has had his own struggles this year, it's worth noting that there have been some absolutely ridiculous goals scored against him and the Bruins. This one might have been near the top of the list in terms of shrug-worthy goals allowed. Boychuk was set up by Kyle Okposo for a 5-on-3 one-timer after Kevan Miller (a rather ticky-tacky high sticking) and Joonas Kemppainen (a totally brainless face-off violation) went off, and Johnny absolutely killed it off the post and in. That made it 2-1, since this Bruins team doesn't do "easy," particularly well, with seven minutes to go.
Rask and the Bruins would hold out, though, with the only other noteworthy chance in the third being an earlier quick whistle that may have stopped Frans Nielsen from roofing one
- The Bruins improved to 7-6-1. With most of the Atlantic struggling to put winning streaks together out of the gate, this is good for a tie for 4th with Detroit, and only two points back of 3rd-place Tampa (with two games in hand).
- It has to be said: the Bruins were not really rolling four lines in this one, as the fourth line barely played in the third period. I'm all for shortening the bench if you have an ineffective unit and you're trying to hold the lead, but it's worth noting that Julien et al picked this current fourth line. If it's not effective to roll for a couple shifts on the third game on four days, on a back-to-back, to give the big guns more of a breather, than it's not effective enough to be an NHL fourth line.
- Rask has a shutout on the season, but in my estimatedion this 36-saves-on-37-shots performance topped that. The Isles were the fresher team, and showed it down the stretch. This is absolutely one of those games where you get out of town and thank your goalie for securing the two points.
- Remember Jaroslav Halak? Yeah, he played extremely well too, stopping 25 of 27. The Bruins two goals were off a 5-on-3 and a deflection off an Islander, yet he took the loss. This is known as "being Tuukka'd."
- The Bruins defense had some rough moments, but generally didn't hang Rask out to dry until the third. This actually wasn't that great of a game for the Zdeno Chara-Colin Miller pairing in terms of getting the play going in the right direction, though they held their own defensively. In addition, Zach Trotman looked solid again. Can we keep him?