The New York Islanders may be challenged offensively but their ability to defend can give the Bruins’ high-powered attack a little trouble at times. And for 20 minutes at UBS Arena on Wednesday, it did just that.
But once the B’s got their legs going, the B’s demonstrated just how big a gap there is between them and teams like the Islanders right now. The B’s received goals from four different players and went a solid 6-for-6 on the penalty kill to grind out a 4-1 victory.
Linus Ullmark stopped 27 of 28 shots to up the B’s record to 35-5-4.
The Bruins didn’t get much going in the first period offensively, got outshot 10-6 and found themselves down 1-0 after the first 20 minutes.
Zach Parise was robbed by Ullmark early in the period when he had a clean shot from the high slot, but it was Parise who gave the Islanders the lead with 4:19 left in the first.
The Isles entered the zone on the rush and, after Jean-Gabriel Pageau dumped it in deep to Sebastian Aho in the left corner, David Pastrnak came down low in the zone to double team him. It was ill-advised decision by Pastrnak, because that left Parise all alone to step into Aho’s pass and blast a slapper past Ullmark for the 1-0 advantage.
The B’s were slow to start in the second as well, but they eventually tied off a strong, grinding shift by the third line. Matt Grzelcyk jumped down from the blue line to gather a loose, went behind the net and out the right side, surveying his options. Eventually, he sifted a pass over to to defense partner Charlie McAvoy, who ripped a one-timer past Islander goalie Semyon Varlamov at 7:48.
It was McAvoy’s third of the season and first since Nov. 23, snapping a 23-game goal-less streak for the No. 1 defenseman, who is still rounding into form. For the surging Grzelcyk, it was his fourth point in his last three games.
The B’s took the lead 3:12 later. After the B’s quickly reloaded in the neutral zone in the midst of a partial Islander change, Pastrnak fed Pavel Zacha in the slot for a shot the stayed out, but weakside defenseman Derek Forbort charged in to poke the loose puck home for his third of the season.
The lead was extended the early in the third period on a power play, but it came with a cost. Patrice Bergeron caught a puck in the face and needed to head to the room for repairs. He would soon return to the bench with his some gauze in his nose and blood smeared on his cheek. And when he returned, the B’s had a two-goal lead.
On the advantage, Pastrnak fed Brad Marchand for a one-timer and Marchand didn’t miss, recording his 15th goal at 5:03, his eighth on the man advantage.
Finally, with the Islanders ready to be put out of their misery, Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle outworked the Islanders for a loose puck. Eventually, Coyle came off the board with the puck and fed Trent Frederic for his 10th goal of the season with 4:22 left.