Frankly, it felt like Boston did not know what they were getting into here.
Oh sure, they got zone time...but they ran into the Barry Trotz school of backchecking, a form of backchecking they have infamously been quite poor at handling since his days at Washington. And when the Islanders turned up ice it was like they teleported directly in front of Rask.
Anyway, the Bruins let up the first goal of the game as Mat Barzal was allowed to go on a tour of the offensive zone, and was able to get a pass from behind the net to Scott Mayfield, who was able to take advantage of the screen being created and put it right past Rask. 1-0 Islanders.
What happened next? Saves. Lots and lots of saves. Tuukka Rask made 13 saves in the first after his team apparently decided that they were going to puckwatch for a vast majority of the period. That the B’s managed to survive it is a credit to their goaltender.
Thankfully, the Bruins showed up and played a lot better in the 2nd, dragging the Islanders into a much slower game that played against their strengths. And they managed to counter the Islanders with a little speed of their own, and knotted the score at 1-1 with Jake DeBrusk scoring on a rebound as they came flying into the offensive zone!
Could not have come at a better time, because this was in many ways a turning point. The B’s began to throw their weight around, get blocks, get opportunities in front of Varlamov more. It made for an excellent period of hockey.
Of course, that had to come to an end, and the third would begin to really kick this one into gear.
The period started great, with the Bruins coming out swinging, and it would be John Moore who cashed in after a great little shift by the Coyle line who helped set up an eerily similar goal to the first of the night, and put the B’s up 2-1!
And that would hold for quite awhile, as the Isle got pretty desperate to get even, but Rask was there to send them all away.
All of them except...regrettably...
This one. As a lofted pass got knocked down by Chara at the worst possible angle to drop right in front of Josh Bailey, who passed to He-Who-Was-Not-Drafted and well...
There are a litany of reasons this could’ve ended poorly. The B’s 3-on-3 play lately has been lacking. The fact that only a few players could realistically played with the intent of winning and getting a goal. Rask has never been exceptional with dealing with breakaways. Hockey is like that, sometimes.
Thankfully, Hockey can also throw you a bone in Brock Nelson getting called for tripping, and with the man advantage, Torey Krug suckered a pair of Islanders over to him, and Patrice Bergeron did what Patrice Bergeron does. Be perfect.
Bruins win 3-2!
- I don’t give a heck what NHL.com thinks: Tuukka Rask saved this game for the Bruins and absolutely deserved the first star ahead of Bergeron. They started flat against one of the teams most likely to punish you for doing that, he held the Isle to one goal for most of the game and only let up the 2nd after a terrible bounce, and held the fort down against an offense seemingly tailor made to making goalies look foolish. He played beautifully and earned every bit of his .946% tonight.
- Torey Krug’s assist on the OT goal put him firmly in second place for most points scored by a defenseman in their first 500 games with 319, only bested by Erik Karlsson. May our tiny king bless us with more beautiful passing for years to come.
- Matt Grzelcyk was whacked in the Leg and had to leave the game early in the first, which means we must change the workplace safety timer to “0 days since Bruins player got injured”.
- Noted penalties aside, this was a fairly clean game minus some infractions that may not have been seen along the boards. B’s could’ve easily lost their PPG streak tonight and were lucky that they kept it going.
- While they had their struggles (who didn’t?), the B’s young defensemen (particularly McAvoy and Carlo) showed some absolutely fantastic work on their parts, stopping what could’ve been key odd-man rushes on multiple occasions throughout this game. Kudos to them on a strong game in the situations where it mattered.
- While many hailed this as a potentially great playoff matchup, I can say with confidence towards my own heart health that I never want to see the Islanders and Bruins in a postseason series ever in my life.
A day off for travel, then it’s on to face the Flyers in Philly for the first part of a back-to-back. The puck drop is at 7pm EST.
We’ll see you there!