Craziness, just absolute craziness for the second game in a row. The New York Islanders mounted another unlikely road comeback just when things looked bad, and came away with a 5-3 victory on New Year's Eve in Boston.
Another Impressive Comeback, Believe it or Not
Another lethargic opening period for the Islanders had them down 1-0 at the first intermission, but this time they responded quickly in the second and tied it at 1-1 on Frans Nielsen's power play goal, a one-timer from John Tavares.
The Bruins had struck first on a broken play started by Jarome Iginla's shot from the right wing, where David Krejci eluded Casey Cizikas to a bouncing rebound and then won another rebound to flip the puck into an open net after Evgeni Nabokov had made two initial saves.
So things were going well -- the Isles may have even been robbed when Cal Clutterbuck swept a puck toward the goal line which appeared not to go in on video review, though MSG broadcasters insisted that it did (it was tough to tell which black spot was the puck and which was part of a stick). But some bad breaks caught the Isles in quick succession, first Calvin de Haan receiving just his second penalty (Patrice Bergeron scored on the power play), then Zdeno Chara taking advantage of Evgeni Nabokov losing his stick, turning a 1-1 game into a 3-1 Bruins lead in a 25-second span.
Nabokov lost his stick on the post while trying to play the puck behind the net, but Thomas Hickey's effort to help backfired as he merely backhanded the puck to the corner, up the boards ... to an eagerly waiting Chara.
That quick turn of events looked like another "woe, Islanders" night, but then the power play came to the rescue. First Frans Nielsen potted a Backhand of Moderation on a rebound of Thomas Vanek's attempt. On a foolish play Milan Lucic gave the Isles another power play which fell short, but then Tuukka Rask conceded yet another opportunity by clearing the puck over the glass. That one cost the Bruins.
The Isles tied it at 3-3 with just over two seconds left in the second period.
Although Kyle Okposo finished this one (well, really it was Brad Marchand), credit goes to Andrew MacDonald for rushing the puck up ice and following up all the way into the corner, recognizing that there were seconds left so he might as well go for it. Too often you'll see a frustrated team just content to let the final seconds of the period die rather than make a concerted push for the goal, but not this time.
But Wait, It Gets Better. (Enter the Tavares.)
Once the third period began, the Isles top line wasted no time stating that yes, this was their game now. John Tavares took a Thomas Vanek wing-it-to-the-net play and collected it behind the goal line, sending it off Rask's toe pad and caroming into the net. In just 35 seconds of elapsed game time, the Isles had turned the contest upside down with two goals scored from behind the Bruins net.
The Bruins pushed back, uncomfortably so, with Nabokov required to make some big saves, until another Islanders power play and another Tavares goal. This time it was scored from the faceoff dot, on a slapper after some good puck movement, and with under seven minutes remaining the Isles had a two-goal lead even they couldn't blow.
Milan Lucic helped seal the game by losing his head after being called harshly for "boarding" Travis Hamonic on a hard but clean check. (Cal Clutterbuck had similarly gotten jobbed on a clean hit in the first period.) Lucic lost his head, picked up an extra unsportsmanlike minor and an ejection, and the Isles would be on the power play for the rest of the game with a two-goal lead to do as they like. They decided to hang on to the puck and barely let the Bruins touch it.
Just like that, the Isles have won two in a row on the road after falling behind by 3-0 and 3-1 deficits. Go figure. Happy New Year.