Bruins score 3 in third, pull away to beat Islanders 5-1
NEW YORK (AP) — Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask helped the Boston Bruins keep up their winning ways to start the new year.
Bergeron had the go-ahead goal in the second period and the surging Bruins scored three times in the third to pull away for a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots as Boston improved to 7-0-2 in their last nine, the longest streak of games with at least a point this season.
Danton Heinen, Brad Marchand, Tim Schaller and Noel Acciari also scored for the Bruins,
“We knew it was coming this year,” Marchand said. “We had a lot of injuries and we knew we just needed some time to come together a bit, but you see the way some young guys are stepping up. It just seems like everyone is connecting. Every line has that chemistry.”
Jordan Eberle had New York’s goal and Jaroslav Halak finished with 33 saves as the Islanders lost their third straight. Josh Bailey was held without a point, ending his career-high streak at 11 games.
New York was 5-8-2 in December and the latest loss pushed the Islanders out of a playoff position with Carolina picking up a point in a shootout loss to Washington and having a game in hand.
“Adversity is hitting us between the eyes right now as a group, as a staff, as players,” Islanders coach Doug Weight said. “We’ve got to find a way. If you’re going to use words like flat or a little sluggish at times in the second or third it’s concerning, but it’s not going away.
“We have three really big games and we have to figure it out.”
After being outshot 12-9 in the first period, the Bruins held the Islanders to just 14 shots through the final 40 minutes and beat them for the second time in two meetings this season.
“We just tried to stick to our game plan and our systems,” Boston’s Sean Kuraly said. “Be quick through the neutral zone and hold onto pucks down low, and be a good puck possession team. I think for most of the game we did that.”
It was a fluky goal from Bergeron that put the Bruins ahead 2-1 in the second. A centering pass to Marchand took a funny deflection right to Bergeron on the side of the net and the Bruins’ forward banked it in off Halak at 8:28. Marchand got his 200th career assist on the play.
Marchand then got his 16th goal at 9:04 of the third after the Islanders turned over the puck and David Pastrnak led an odd-man rush to make it 3-1.
Schaller deflected the puck out of the air to give the Bruins a three-goal lead with just under five minutes left in the game, and Accaiari added an empty-netter with 2:13 remaining.
“We know they’re down a few guys, so you have to force those young kids to make plays,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I don’t think we turned it over much. If we did we reloaded pretty well. That was a bit of the game plan, force them to break out and go 200 feet.
“When we get buzzing we’re a decent forechecking team. We have some heavy lines and even our skilled lines are good at handling the puck.”
The Bruins extended their record to 12-1-2 in their last 15 contests against Eastern Conference opponents.
Boston opened the scoring with a goal off a draw in the middle of the first period. Riley Nash won the faceoff and the puck went right to Heninen, who fired the puck past Halak at 8:17.
Eberle evened the score just over a minute later after he forced a turnover in front of the net and slid the puck past the extended leg of Rask for his 14th.
NOTES: The NHL announced Tuesday that Rask was named first star for December and Bailey was the second star. ... The Bruins scratched forwards Anders Bjork and Paul Postma and defenseman Frank Vatrano. ... Forward Tanner Fritz made his NHL debut against Boston after the Islanders called him up from the AHL on Monday. ... Forward Alan Quine and defenseman Dennis Seidenberg were scratched for New York.
Bruins: Host Florida on Thursday night.
Islanders: At Philadelphia on Thursday night.