The Islanders surrendered 3 special teams goals (2 power play, 1 shorthanded) and 2 empty netters in a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins last night at TD Garden.
The Islanders, who got off to a fast start behind effective special teams, have seen that efficiency desert them, and they haven’t been able to recover. Two more power play goals allowed (Boston was 2-5 on the night) and the Islanders own 0-3 mark tell a familiar tale in an all too familiar story: another Islanders loss.
The game was far closer than the final score would indicate however, as the Islanders were game opponents for the Bruins (16-8-3) for the first 59 minutes of the contest, as 2 empty net goals made up the final margin.
Boston’s Milan Lucic opened the scoring at 14: 00 in the first period on the power play. After Mark Eaton was called for holding at 11:53, Isles G Rick DiPietro was called for delay of game at 13:20 when he fired the puck over the glass. This left the Isles defending a 5-on-3 situation for 33 seconds. Just 7 seconds after the Isles managed to escape the 5-on-3 unharmed, Lucic beat DiPietro to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead in a period the Bruins dominated, outshooting the Isles 16-7. The Bruins also had 3 power play opportunities in the first period to help them control play in the Islander end.
Early in the second period it looked like more of the same, as Jack Hillen was whistled for tripping at 2:30. However, a defensive breakdown by the Bruins lead to Frans Nielsen getting through on a shorthanded breakaway. He was hauled down on the play by Patrice Bergeron, and awarded a penalty shot. Nielsen beat Bruins G Tuukka Rask to tie the game at 1.
“Any time a team scores against us short-handed, it’s a real kick in the butt. We want to make sure we do the same to them,” Bruins LW Brad Marchand said after the game. Its exactly what he did.
Later in the period, with the Islanders on the power play, Marchand blocked a clearing attempt by DiPietro, who had wandered far from the crease to play the puck. Marchand easily put it into an empty net to score a shorthanded goal and put the Bruins back on top 2-1. It was a tough goal to give up, since the Islanders had improved their play greatly in the second period, outshooting the Bruins 17-9 in the second frame.
The third period was played pretty evenly, but special teams cost the Islanders again, when at 12:17 Nielsen was called for cross checking. Michael Ryder scored on the power play to put the Bruins up 3-1.
The Islanders would continue to show resolve, however, and at 16:27, Rob Schremp’s 4th goal of the year drew the Islanders back to 3-2. The rest of the period would go back and forth without either side able to gain on the other.
With just over a minute to play, Isles coach Jack Capuano pulled DiPietro for an extra skater, but as soon as DiPietro hit the bench, Lucic intercepted a pass and fired it into the Isles empty net for his 15th goal of the season, and second of the game at 18:57. Bergeron added a second empty netter with 5 seconds remaining for the final tally.
“We really battled hard and competed hard,” Isles’ RW John Tavares said. “This game was a tough one to swallow.”
“The resilience, how we came out in the second and third against a pretty good Boston Bruins team, I thought we had some kids that played pretty good,” Isles coach Capuano noted after the game, recalling the spirit and grit his young team displayed.
The Isles effort was not lost on the Bruins, either. ”Finding a way to get up for these games is more challenging than you think, especially emotionally,” admitted Bruins defenseman and former Islander Zdeno Chara. ”Give New York credit though. They played hard and battled back in the second.”
While being recognized for their play is nice, its not any easier on the Islanders. “The frustration builds when you lose, period,” DiPietro (32 saves) said. “It doesn’t matter how close or how. One goal, 10 goals — a loss is a loss.”
The Isles look to rebound Saturday at home against the Atlanta Thrashers.
PLUS/MINUS: Minus: The Isles’ power play drought has now extended to 39 consecutive chances over 12 games. Minus: John Tavares was knocked out of the game with 8 mins remaining after being hit by a slap shot by Chara. Radek Martinek had also left the game in the first period after taking a Chara slap shot, but later returned. Minus: Isles have scored 2 goals or less in 15 of their last 17 games.
About the Author
Written by Patrick Creighton
Host of the Sportswire - Fridays from 6-7pm, on 88.1fm WCWP (NY), www.wcwp.org, and www.wcwpsports.org. Play-by-play voice for CW Post Football. Contributing writer to WCWPSports.com, ProSportsBlogging.com. Has appeared on 660 WFAN-NY and YES Network.