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PREVIEW: Bruins and Islanders face off in Game 3

Headin’ to the island, gonna have ourselves a beer! And, maybe a hockey game.

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

Just the facts

When: Tonight, 7:30 PM

Where: Nassau Coliseum - Uniondale, NY

How to follow: NBCSN, TVAS, CBC, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Rival SBN site: Lighthouse Hockey

Know your enemy

  • Playoff Leaders:
    Scoring - Anthony Beauvillier: 7GP, 4G, 4A, 8PTS; Jean-Gabriel Pageau: 7GP, 1G, 6A, 7PTS; Josh Bailey: 7GP, 3G, 3A, 6PTS; Brock Nelson: 7GP, 3G, 3A, 6PTS
    Goalies - Ilya Sorokin kicked things off in Game 1: 4-1-0, 2.32 GAA, .934 save percentage;
    Semyon Varlamov earned his first win thus far this postseason in Game 2 to get to: 1-2-0, 3.14 GAA, .912 save percentage
  • Regular season leaders: Mathew Barzal: 17G, 28A, 45PTS; Josh Bailey: 8G, 27A, 35PTS; Brock Nelson: 18G, 15A, 33PTS; Jordan Eberle: 16G, 17A, 33PTS

Game notes

  • After two games, Boston and New York (but, more New Jersey, really) are tied in the series at one game apiece. First, the Boston Bruins soundly defeated the New York Islanders by a 5-2 tally and on the back of a David Pastrnak hat trick (#neverendingplayoffpasta), only to be outmatched to a man in Game 2 despite the third-period rally by the Bruins to force OT. An unfortunate turnover left Jeremy Lauzon holding the bag, but not empirically responsible. (No, it’s not Tuukka’s fault, either, nor Charlie Coyle’s. Several miscues left the puck in a vulnerable position.)
  • As the series shifts to Long Island, the Isles now get a chance to play in front of their largest crowd of the season. The capacity at Nassau Coliseum has increased to 12,000 – 2,500 fans short of a full house for them.
  • Despite looking somewhat hapless in Game 2, the Bruins were ahead on the fancystats front - controlling the majority of play in periods 1 and 3, which passed the eye test for sure. Boston actually did LOOK in control. The challenge with the eye test is that if you are holding the puck but not in the offensive zone, you’re not actually getting scoring chances. Boston’s chances were astronomical in Game 1, and pretty damn good in periods 1 and 3 of Game 2, but ABYSMAL in the second period. Once again, they’re falling into a lull when they think they have the game in hand - not a unique weakness to successful teams, but one that needs addressing now.
  • Not surprisingly, Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy has relied heavily on his star players. While there is some understanding there - and yes, Charlie McAvoy can play 30 minutes a night if needed -one can’t expect to extract a lucky victory from 19 minutes of Charlie Coyle, or if you have to force Patrice Bergeron to play over 24 minutes. David Krejci and Pastrnak each played about 23 minutes total. Overtime or not, that’s a lot of leaning on your workhorses, and even Clydesdales get tired.
  • Injury updates: Craig Smith skated during yesterday’s practice in a regular jersey. If he’s good to go for today, he’ll slot back into the second line. Smith has been out since the second period of Game 1 with a lower-body injury. Jake DeBrusk would likely move to the third line if he’s back, as Cassidy said he will stay in the lineup. Karson Kuhlman would likely draw out. Kevan Miller won’t be available for Game 3.
  • Rask is, and should be, the starter. The Bruins’ No. 1 netminder was struggling with a nagging injury during Game 2’s loss and there was lingering speculation on whether he’d be good to go for Game 3. Rask fully participated in yesterday’s skate and Cassidy expects him to be healthy for tonight. Until he has to be carted away, this guy is and should be between the pipes. Get over it.