Milan Lucic (center) celebrates with linemates David Krejci (46) and Nathan Horton (18) as Johnny Boychuck (55) looks on following an insurance goal from Krejci in the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Islanders on Tuesday.
For the second time on this young season, the Bruins put up four goals on their way to beating the struggling Islanders in what almost had the feel of a home game with the random breaking out of “Let’s go Bruins!” chants from some of the 12,788 fans in attendance. Four different B’s scored in this one as the Black and Gold continued their torrid start to the season with an impressive 4-1 victory on Long Island.
Brad Marchand‘s team-leading 10th goal of the season 38 seconds into the second period stood up as the game-winner as Tuukka Rask stopped nearly everything that came at him in the game, leading Boston to their fourth straight win. He improved to 6-1-0 in his career against the Isles with his second win of the year over the team that ended his season in 2012.
“You get a chance to play, you always try to enjoy it,” said Rask, who made a season-high 36 saves in his fourth consecutive start for the Bruins. “It’s good to get the win, but I don’t think we were at our best today.”
Adam McQuaid got the scoring started for the road team with his first of the year and first in 46 games 6:43 into the first period, but it was the effort of Tyler Seguin, who has really been playing well in all phases of the game lately, that led to the McQuaid score. He beat the defender to the puck in the corner while keeping his body composed then made a move around another Islander in the slot before finding the wide-open McQuaid at the point since he had drawn three players in blue toward him.
Marchand supplied the traffic in front and the puck slid between the arm and chest of Evgeni Nabokov. Assists went to Seguin and Patrice Bergeron, but it was Marchand who controlled the puck in deep in their own zone and made a simple pass to Johnny Boychuk that started the break. The assist was the 100th career point for Seguin, who is in the midst of a five-game point streak.
“[Seguin] made a great play. He drew a few guys in and was able to find me,” said McQuaid after the first period. “I just shot and luckily it went in.” The McQuaid goal leaves Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference as the only regulars without a tally on the year.
While they did put up four goals for the third consecutive game to complete their five-game road trip at 4-1-0, their play in the defensive zone is what cost them the lone goal they would surrender on the night. Late in the first, McQuaid was beaten to the puck by Josh Bailey in the neutral zone. Bergeron lost a faceoff in the offensive end and was late getting back to pick up the goal scorer, Casey Cizikas, who tied the game at one with 4:11 remaining in the opening period. Bailey made a beautiful move down low to get around Seidenberg and feed the backhand pass to the front where Cizikas eventually tipped it home for his second of the year. New York did a good job to temporarily come back in the game after Boston had gotten off to their third straight strong start.
The score would remain 1-1 through the end of the first despite the Islanders holding a slight 11-10 shots advantage of the Bruins due, in large part to the play of Rask, who slid to his right to stop a breakaway bid from Michael Grabner in the latter stages of the period. The B’s also continued their dominating penalty killing against the fifth-ranked power-play unit in the league, killing all three on the night, including one in the first with one of their most productive penalty killers, Gregory Campbell, in the box for tripping. They have now killed off 24 straight power plays since P.K. Subban scored in the Feb. 6 meeting against the Canadiens.
Shortly after the start of the second, Marchand would put the B’s ahead to stay as he cleaned up the rebound from a Ference shot and backhanded it by Nabokov. Bergeron won the faceoff in the offensive zone and won a one-on-one battle in the corner to get the puck back to Ference for the shot that led to the game-winner. Boston has now won three straight over the Islanders, who fell to 8-11-1 in the 11th spot in the East.
It was another pretty, well-executed play that extended the Bruins’ lead at 5:16 of the second. In what Jack Edwards described as “a gorgeous goal,” Zdeno Chara made another good move to start the break from the defensive zone before making a long pass to Nathan Horton through the neutral zone. Horton then found Milan Lucic, who settled in between the Islander defenders and made a nifty backhand feed to David Krejci. Nabokov had no chance as Krejci ripped the one-timed snap-shot top-shelf to give Boston the 3-1 lead. Jack might have made mention about one of those triangle things working to perfection again, if I recall correctly.
Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara congratulates Tuukka Rask following the win.
“It was a great breakout pass. I was going wide with the puck. Both defenders came to me,” said Horton on the Bruins’ third goal of the night. “It was a beautiful shot [by Krejci]. That’s what we’re trying to do,” he added.
Krejci’s fifth of the year gave him eight goals to go along with 12 assists in 19 career games against the Islanders. This one made it 3-1 before Campbell added an empty netter from right inside the red line – his second of the year – with just over a minute remaining in the game.
The game would have been a lot more lopsided if the Bruins could have put the nail in the coffin by converting on the power play, but all in all, it was quite a successful road trip for the B’s, who picked up eight of a possible 10 points while going 4-1-0. They also improved to 8-0-0 on the season when scoring first.
The Islanders fell to a league-worst 2-8-0 at home this year and have not won a game in which they have scored less than four goals, though they were just the third team this season to out-shoot Boston and they did so, 37-34. Nabokov fell to 4-5-1 in 10 career games against the Bruins. Keith Aucoin, who scored both Islander goals in the team’s last meeting was inactive for this one.
Ten Bruins had at least one point on the night while Bergeron and Seguin led the way with two assists apiece as the B’s reached their first four-game winning streak of the season and longest since they won seven straight in December of last year. They did an exceptional job of shutting down the Isles’ top performer, John Tavares, as he registered just four shots on goal with no points and finished with a minus-3 rating on the night. Like they did with Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek recently, they did not let the opponent’s best player beat them.
Claude Julien won his 240th game as coach of the Bruins.
The three stars of the game were Rask, Marchand and Bergeron.
The 12-2-2 B’s continue their thick stretch of games on Thursday as they return home to take on the 12-6-2 Senators for the first of five times this season at 7 p.m.
Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.