photo credit: (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT… HOCKEY! Boston Bruins vs. New York Islanders, to be more specific. Does it get any better than this? The Bruins have dominated the Isles in recent times. However, you can always rely on a good game between these two teams. After a tough game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, the Islanders were on a mission. To beat a team like Boston and shut down their top line (perhaps the best line in hockey), a full sixty-minute effort is imperative. Except for a tough start filled with icing calls against New York, Barry Trotz got exactly that from his boys in blue and orange.
The Bruins struck first. 8:41 into the first period, Brad Marchand sniped one past Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov. His linemates Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak both notched assists. 11:36 in, the Islanders responded. Jean-Gabriel Pageau displayed his patience and determination in front of the net and picked up his third goal of the season. Ryan Pulock and Leo Komarov each earned an assist. The Isles were determined for more. 15:16 in, Jordan Eberle tallied his sixth goal of the season. Brock Nelson and Scott Mayfield were both credited with assists.
The second period was a battle, with both teams fighting for every inch of ice. The Islanders outshot the B’s 15-9 in the period, but Patrice Bergeron scored the lone goal. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak both assisted on Bergeron’s seventh of the season. It would seem to many that the Bruins would carry the momentum into their dressing room and the third period, but this wasn’t the case at all. 5:30 into the final period of regulation time, Mathew Barzal scored his sixth goal of the season on the power-play. Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle both tallied their third assists of the season. Eberle had himself a night, but New York hit a roadblock when he was called for high-sticking Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon 13:37 in.
Not only did the Isles swiftly kill off this penalty, but they scored a fantastic short-handed goal. Less than a minute into Boston’s second power-play of the night, Leo Komarov sent Jean-Gabriel Pageau in alone on a breakaway in which he beat Bruins goaltender Tuuka Rask. The beautiful pass from “Uncle Leo” resulted in a game-breaking and decisive goal. The Isles knew coming into this game how great Boston is on the power-play, and they more than shut them down. New York had the 2020 Presidents’ Trophy winners exactly where they wanted them and gave them nothing with their net empty in the final 2:45 of play. The Islanders won the hockey game 4-2. In fact, the only two Bruins regulation losses so far this season have come at the Nassau Coliseum against the Isles. The struggles against the “Big Bad Bruins” seem to have disappeared, and eight of these matchups between these evenly matched teams provide fans on both sides the treat of close, down to the wire, old-time hockey game.
New York’s penalty kill remains red hot and went 2/2 tonight. In sixty-minutes, the Isles outshot the Bruins 42-30, and Semyon Varlamov turned aside 28 Bruins shots. The three stars of the game were Pageau, Eberle, and Komarov.
There are so many positives to draw from Saturday night, and the blue and orange faithful should be more than satisfied with this bounce-back win. Semyon Varlamov improves to 6-2-2 on the year, in this time recording a 1.98 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. The 2014 Vezina Trophy finalist looks to be on pace for that type of consideration again. Mathew Barzal is above a point-per-game with 5 goals, 8 assists, and 13 points through 12 games. Anders Lee’s assist on Barzal’s power-play goal was highlight-reel worthy, and Barzy’s finish was just something else. The power-play, which has been an issue the Isles have struggled mightily with for years, is finally clicking and did so tonight. The penalty-kill continues to get the job done time after time. Overall, the Islanders are improving every game and getting to the place where they need to go.
The Isles look to stay on the right track on Monday night against Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM Eastern Time at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo.