The Islanders came into Boston with the Bruins looking to capitalise on a surprising loss for Tampa last night and open themselves something of a lead in the Atlantic Division. Kevan Miller came back into the Bruins lineup after injury for Joe Morrow, pairing with Chara in the starting lineup – however, all other lines remained the same as the game began.
A positive start for the Bruins saw several shots on Thomas Greiss in the Isles net, but it was the physical play from the home team that was particularly notable – Chara levelling Frans Nielsen early with a big hit along the boards and a heavily-engaged Matt Beleskey walloping Travis Hamonic.
The highlight of the first ten minutes, though, was a Beleskey rocket that flew just too high after he finally found himself a little space in the zone. The Bruins fourth line of Noel Acciari, Landon Ferraro and Brett Connolly continued their good play from recent games, too, putting the Isles under strong pressure and visibly knocking them off their game early.
The Islanders, meanwhile, were offering very little in attack – Tuukka Rask being a virtual spectator as the home defence kept the likes of John Tavares and Kyle Okposo quiet, although the Isles began to come back into the game.
However, the Bruins powerplay was given their first chance of the game when Thomas Hickey was called for holding Stempniak, and they seized upon it – a shot from Krug was padded wide by Greiss to Spooner on the right-side goal-line boards and he took time to circle back out before finding Eriksspn back on the goal-line to wheel around from Greiss’s left post and slide the puck home on the wraparound for his 26th goals of the season.
A strong, engaged first period ended with the B’s deservedly leading and commentators praising their forecheck effort, particularly that of the third and fourth lines.
The second period started with a scare for the Bruins - Josh Bailey deflecting a Kyle Okposo shot off Rask's crossbar in the second minute. The Isles hit the iron again moments later - an Anders Lee breakaway after a Pastrnak giveaway saw him go forehand-to-backhand and beat Rask but not the post. Kevan Miller then had to be alert to sweep a puck off the line after it squirmed through Rask and was rolling toward the net.
The Bruins third line was again creating opportunities - Jimmy Hayes just unable to connect on a pass from Beleskey.
The period settled down into a stretch with very few clear-cut chances, although the Bruins didn't allow their level to drop like they have in previous games - notably against Carolina.
Suddenly, though,the Bruins defensive woes caught up with them. Somehow the Bruins failed to clear the zone despite having both defensemen and David Krejci facing only one Isles forechecker. Lazy play from Miller, Krejci and Chara allowed Kyle Okposo to work his way behind the net and John Tavares' 200th NHL goal from a close-in backhand was the result.
Bruins looked to respond immediately with Brad Marchand going very close and Jimmy Hayes rumbling through the zone and forcing Greiss into a save, but the B's second period woes were clear - this was a very different team from the first 20 minutes up against an Isles team with growing confidence. John Tavares nearly got his second off a rebound from a Bailey shot.
Twelve seconds from the end of a lackluster period, though, David Krejci atoned for his earlier error by showing why assists get just as many points as goals, by taking a grand tour of the Isles offensive zone before finding Pastrnak all alone in front of the net to snap one low past Greiss and give the Bruins a lead that on balance of play in the second they barely deserved.
However, hockey games aren't scored on how much you deserve to win, and the B's ended the second 20 minutes in exactly the same situation as they had the first - up by a goal.
The third period saw the Isles controlling the play for the first few minutes once again-but again, they couldn't find a way past a Bruins defense who gave up a lot of shots but no real clear chances.
Thomas Hickey then caught Bergeron with a high stick - an action that caused Chara to glove-jab Hamonic in fhe face in the aftermath and sacrifice a potential powerplay opportunity - the two minutes of four-on-four play failed to produce much more than a Seidenberg slapshot in space, however.
Moving into the final ten, the B's seemed to play a little more conservatively as they tightened up with the one goal lead - a chance for Lee Stempniak prone in front of the net was one of the few highlights as the Bruins focused on keeping the Isles as far away from their net as possible and restricting the away team's opportunities rather than creating their own.
Finally, though, the chance came for David Pastrnak, and he took it, BLASTING a slapshot past Thomas Greiss for an insurance goal and his second of the game. That would be the last significant action of the game as the Bruins took the win to go three clear at the top of the Atlantic ahead of a long road trip to the West Coast in the coming week.