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RECAP: Bruins again struggle to solve Islanders, despite scoring first; lose 2-1 in shootout

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This game started out SO poorly, but a consistent middle-to-late game effort offered hope.

Boston Bruins v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

First Period

Things started off ‘meh’ for Boston; the Islanders challenged early and often, and controlled the early going. Boston didn’t get an offensive zone faceoff until almost 5 minutes into the period.

Though the B’s recovered a bit, Connor Clifton put what felt like the first true chance on net with about six minutes to go, and then a second shot on the same shift. On the next, Urho Vaakanainen took the puck right to the feet of Islanders G Semyon Varlamov, giving Boston an icing call and another O-zone faceoff.

Just when it appeared Boston had its legs and would make this a game, the Islanders stomped Boston’s defensive zone coverage. Several chances, including a WIDE OPEN chance by Jordan Eberle, were frighteningly close to goals. New York smelled blood behind the Boston net and did not let up, and many zone exit attempts by Boston failed. Hell, they hemmed the Perfection Line for an entire shift. The ONLY consolation out of this stretch was that the next scoring chance came off of a strong exit and possession shift by the old-look third line of Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle, and Craig Smith. DEEEEEP breath... and a TV timeout for a new beer.

When play resumed, shifts took much more of a back-and-forth nature. The Perfection Line had a Perfection Shift, along with support from the very-good-looking Matt Grzelcyk - Charlie McAvoy pair. Connor Clifton and Jarred Tinordi turned in a battle-winning shift behind 11-13-12, with special note to Smith showing jam in tight. The Islanders’ chances were turning into short attacking shifts, instead of stopwatch-inducing madness. There were still four minutes left!

Play stayed fast, and with about two minutes left, Nick Ritchie rang metal, and then Anders Lee tripped Charlie Coyle with just over a minute left. Naturally, David Pastrnak scored. What an awkward way to end a period that had evolved so drastically in the latter half.

Second Period

WHAT a change. Boston came out firing, a solid possession shift by the fourth line, who Bruce Cassidy started for the second period in a row. As he worked his way in reverse order up the roster, the Bruins weathered a Coyle penalty that saw them with a couple shorthanded chances (one, admittedly, was a long shot by Anders Bjork before a line change). Past the PK, Boston struggled a little to regain possession from the Islanders, and the Tinordi-Vaak pair was completely caved in. Most of the first half of the frame was uninterrupted skating, so that was a bad way to get stuck - when the Isles were in full rythym.

Boston then received their own power play, and quickly saw first Isles defender Scott Mayfield block a shot and barely be able to skate, and THEN the other defenseman broke their stick, leaving a forward without one after offering the swap. NO substantial attempt to score despite those circumstances and many shots from a distance. New York killed the rest and we saw Mayfield testing his foot before a commercial break.

An awkward fall by Connor Clifton followed by a planned, yet kind of poorly executed hit by NYI Oliver Wahlstrom, gave the latter a minor penalty. Then, Marchand took exception and dropped his gloves, not just roughing but actively punching Wahlstrom wherever he could. Marchy got a double minor, on which the Islanders tied the game at 1 with a few minutes left in the second. The Isles held the puck for much of the rest of the period.

Third Period

Starts off a little jostled, as both teams were coming out of a special-teams-plus-scrum end of a period. They just needed to learn how to hockey again.

The Islanders figured it out first. It wasn’t quite as bad as the start of the first; Boston was OK at disrupting rushes, but awful at pouncing on the turnovers they created. Jaro Halak did come to play, poking away an errant chance in close and short-circuiting the Isles’ attack with stoppages.

So, New York played into that, and stopped aggressively attacking Halak. Sure, there were shots, but the bulk of their play was attacking around the edges and looking for the most efficient way to score, and they absolutely had their chances, outshooting Boston through most of the period. They also transitioned defensively - Boston’s neutral zone play got a bit more efficient, so they backed off and were content with playing defense in their own zone. With less time and space, and higher stakes for the B’s offense, the Bruins’ attack evaporated.

As time wound low, the opposite became readily apparent: the Islanders seemed determined to win in regulation. Four or five prime scoring chances in a row with under five minutes to play saw a few deflections go wide and a sparkling glove save by Halak, fortunately from a distance. Boston tried to counter, but still couldn’t sustain pressure for long, the forecheck ineffective against the gap offered by the Isles. ....until the last minute, when Boston managed to get close to Varlamov and fire three late shots on net. Alas, no goal.

OVERTIME

Dizzying. Boston had a couple rushes to start, and the given with overtime is that it just stretches out play. Halak had a great sprawling save, timely if not totally necessary.

Then, pace picked up quickly, and the last two minutes or so were absolutely breakneck chances back and forth. The B’s were fortunate in the waning seconds to be able to protect the puck and wind out the clock.

SHOOTOUT

Islanders win. womp womp. Pastrnak scored to keep the first round tied, but Marchand couldn’t meet the sudden death pressure after Anthony Beauvillier scored in the third and final round.

We’ll see you in Boston in short order, Islanders....