Varlamov, Pageau lead Islanders to 1-0 win over Bruins
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Semyon Varlamov stopped 27 shots for his 29th career shutout, Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored with 4:09 remaining, and the New York Islanders beat the Boston Bruins 1-0 in their home opener Monday.
Adam Pelech fired a shot from the left point and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron deflected the puck up in the air. Pageau batted it in past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to put the Islanders on the scoreboard.
“It was a great look by Pelly, getting the puck to the net,” Pageau said. “I think his puck could have gone in, I got a stick on it just to make sure. It was a great effort the whole game.”
Varlamov, who missed Saturday’s game against the Rangers after he took a puck off his neck in pregame warmups, got his second shutout in two starts this season. He had 24 saves in a 4-0 win against the Rangers last Thursday.
“I’ll take back-to-back shutouts, I’m not going to lie,” Varlamov said. “I’m pretty happy today. But this is just the beginning of the year, a lot of games coming. We played well today and I’m glad we scored the important goal in the end.”
Varlamov stopped consecutive chances by Nick Ritchie with about a minute remaining to keep the Bruins off the scoreboard.
“I thought early he was a big reason we got a win tonight,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said of his goalie. “He made some really good saves against a very good hockey team. He just calmed our game, gave us a chance. Second period, we got our feet moving and started to play more to our identity.”
It was a big bounce-back win for the Islanders, coming off a 5-0 loss at the Rangers two nights earlier.
Rask, who had beaten the Islanders in seven of his last eight starts against them, stopped 16 shots for the Bruins in the finale of their season-opening three-game trip. Boston won in a shootout, and then lost in OT in games at New Jersey.
“We are early in the season and we are playing really good,” Rask said. “Just have to stick with it and not hang out heads. Tough bounce. That’s how it goes sometimes.”
It was the Islanders’ first home game since last March 7, when they lost 3-2 in overtime against Carolina at Nassau Coliseum. Without fans in attendance this time because of the coronavirus pandemic, there were cardboard cutouts in the stands and crowd noise was pumped in on the speakers.
“We’re used to it,” Pelech said. “It’s a shame because we all love playing in this building when it’s full of fans. But at this point we’re used to it and it looks like it’s the way it’s going to be.”
The Islanders’ Mathew Barzal rang a shot off the crossbar during a power play less than two minutes into the third. Anthony Beauvillier was denied by Rask with a right pad save near the midpoint of the period.
After a first period in which they had few scoring chances, the Islanders picked up the pace in the second and outshot Boston 7-6. However, Varlamov and Rask didn’t let anything past them.
The Bruins outshot the Islanders 11-3 in the first period. New York had two shots on goal in the first 2:19, but then didn’t get another until Nick Leddy’s slap shot with 33 seconds remaining.
Boston’s David Krejci fired a shot off the crossbar with 4 1/2 minutes left in the opening period.
COLISEUM SWAN SONG 2
The Islanders opened their final season at the Nassau Coliseum — again. Next season, they are expected to open play at their new home, UBS Arena, adjacent to Belmont Park.
The Islanders previously left the Coliseum after the 2014-15 season for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The team returned to the Coliseum in the 2018-19 season, splitting home games between Long Island and Brooklyn the last two years. This season all their home games will be at the Coliseum.
The Islanders went 0 for 5 on the power play and are now 2 for 13 on the season. They also went 3 for 3 on the penalty kill to move to 12 for 14.
Boston, still looking for its first even-strength goal of the season, is 2 for 10 on the power play and 13 for 13 on the PK.
Bruins: Host Philadelphia on Thursday night in their home opener, the start of a four-game homestand.
Islanders: Host New Jersey on Thursday night before a stretch of five straight on the road.