A good test from a middle-pack team is a great way to begin the New Year. There was little opportunity to slack off; despite the New York Islanders’ defensive injuries and goaltending woes, they’re a team that can put the puck in the net with more than just one line. We could expect Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak to have their hands full with Anders Lee, John Tavares, and Josh Bailey, and Mathew Barzal on the Islanders’ second line would keep Riley Nash and company plenty busy.
It was the other way around, big time.
The first several minutes showed strong play from Bruins, pinning the Islanders deep in their own zone. Jordan Eberle tipped a shot and nearly tapped in the rebound, but Tuukka Rask held his left post. Marchand weaved some of his magic to keep the attack going, and Nash and his wingers picked up where the top line left off.
Nearing the midway point, an offensive zone faceoff win came straight to Danton Heinen, who pulled the puck close and fired a wrist shot past Jaroslav Halak. 1-0, Bruins!
Danton Heinen, just like the Bruins drew it up off of the Nash face off winhttps://t.co/vzKpBcPzUI— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) January 3, 2018
Jordan Eberle capitalized off a stumble by Brandon Carlo, who could do nothing but sun himself while Eberle froze Rask. This is the first goal at 5-on-5 allowed by the Bergeron line this season. Let that sink in, if you haven’t already. 1-1 game.
Carlo left the puck perfectly for Eberle, who waits out Rask and curls it around him to tie the gamehttps://t.co/slMteWohEK— Chris Abraham (@CrzyCanucklehed) January 3, 2018
Ryan Spooner was at his best in this period, challenging Halak with several shots, but no such luck. Brock Nelson was called for a Riley Slash. Though the B’s were able to hold the puck in the Islanders’ zone for most of the power play, they couldn’t break through.
With just over two minutes to go, Kevan Miller tipped a centering pass off the crossbar... BEHIND RASK. Stress turned to an eye-roll, as Brandon Carlo took a tripping penalty and the Islanders ended the period on the power play. Fortunately there was no more damage.
Carlo’s remaining penalty ended, and Pastrnak took another tripping penalty by hauling down Nick Leddy less than 30 seconds later. Did we say hauling? We meant waving at his feet with a light breeze. A quick kill with no stoppages finally put the game back at even strength with 3 minutes elapsed. Zdeno Chara played the ENTIRE TIME, and Nash and Bergeron racked up a decent amount of time as well.
Back at even strength, the Bruins were able to push the Islanders back to their heels. The pressure drew a penalty from Casey Cizikas. Both PP units had strong chances, with David Backes nearly tipping home a snap-pass from Spooner and another sequence of chances for the Bergeron unit. As the penalty expired, Patrice Bergeron caught a deflection of his own pass going over the crossbar, dropped it to his stick, and hammered home a bad-angle shot from below the goal line. 2-1, Bruins!
Patrice Bergeron bats his deflected pass down to himself, and scores off of Halak, technically at 5on5https://t.co/6BahGluBVI— Chris Abraham (@CrzyCanucklehed) January 3, 2018
Bratrice Bergstrnak held the puck in the Islanders zone for most of a minute, with the second and fourth line contributing to the onslaught. The second half of this period belonged to the Bruins, and the fourth line continues to impress with their play, creating several offensive zone faceoffs for the scoring lines. Desperation from the Islanders backed the Bruins up a bit, and they nearly tied the game but managed to just ring the post. PHEW.
Strong play from the Kuraly line showed early in this game, and they’ve earned the trust of the coach. Josh Bailey was called for a hold, and another power play could have been a good chance for the Bruins to ice this game. COULD HAVE. Marchand took a slashing call instead, and negated most of the PP with 4-on-4 play.
Feeling a bit remorseful, Brad would atone for his sin. With just under 11 minutes to play, Pastrnak picked off a pass in the feet of Cal Clutterbuck and helps Marchand convert it. 3-1, Bruins!
David Pastrnak sells the shot, and slides it over to Marchand, who doesnt miss. 3-1 Bruinshttps://t.co/ICPprLfHZF— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) January 3, 2018
Watch and learn, kids. Sean Kuraly would do his best Pastrnak imitation, stealing the puck and firing a hard shot that rebounded to Tim Schaller. 4-1, Boston!
Kuraly with the good backpressure in the neutral zone, gets a shot off with Schaller tapping home the reboundhttps://t.co/hBfzUOSHyS— Chris Abraham (@CrzyCanucklehed) January 3, 2018
The next five minutes would belong to the Bruins. The fourth line tacked on another goal, with Acciari icing the game on an empty-netter.
Noel Acciari from his own blue line into the empty net, 5-1 Bruins and thatll pretty much do ithttps://t.co/jDsr4l99Cm— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) January 3, 2018
With two minutes to go, that would be a wrap.
- Rask has been stellar in net for weeks now. Yes, he is also getting solid play from the skaters in front of him. Tough to say how much rest he should get from Khudobin, but don’t expect another goalie controversy.
- Ice time was down for the B’s top line; Pastrnak played just 12:40. Chara, however, was back in form, playing just over 24 minutes; Kevan Miller was second for defensemen, due in part to the second period penalties. Only Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Spooner started all of their play time in the offensive zone; both players, however, received a share of PP and PK time.
- David Backes has not only rounded into form, he’s downright reliable. His wing support for Nash has often morphed into being the center when switching along the boards, and the whole line’s chemistry is much better.
- Danton Heinen had another multipoint game, recording a goal and an assist. Schaller and Marchand had the same. Leading the movement, it would seem; he’s in the conversation (at least locally) for the Calder Trophy.
Next up - the Florida Panthers come to Boston on Thursday; puck drop shortly after 7:30pm.
See you there!