I would assume that throwaway games against the team from Siberia aren't supposed to end this way.
Chad Johnson reintroduced himself to the TD Garden crowd, saving 30 shots and holding down the fort in the third period, leading the Islanders to a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins.
Hi, I'm STILL Chad Johnson.
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The Isles struck first in the battle of the backup tendies, capitalizing on a stellar shift by Frans Nielsen, Nikolay Kulemin, and Josh Bailey.
Kulemin did a great job keeping the puck in the Boston zone, and then feathered a pass to Calvin de Haan between two Boston players. Nielsen and Bailey then played back and forth with the puck, with Bailey's pass deflecting off Dougie Hamilton towards the net, allowing Nielsen to stretch his stick for the easy tap in.
The Bruins were able to get the equalizer in the closing minutes of the first period. Seth Griffith made a nice play along the boards and made an even better centering pass towards Milan Lucic. Lucic deflected the puck as he barreled towards the net, putting it past Johnson for a 1-1 tie.
Boston lost Zdeno Chara after the first period, and that was bad news for a Bruins team who were trying to slow down a buzzing Islanders team in the second period. Brian Strait one-timed a John Tavares pass, and Kyle Okposo managed to deflect it on net. The first try didn't go in, but Okposo batted the rebound out of the air and past Niklas Svedberg, giving the Islanders a 2-1 lead a minute and a half into the second.
The Isles continued to own the second. Ex-Bruin Johnny Boychuk rang a slapshot off the post, and the fourth line grabbed the rebound, with Matt Martin eventually backhanding a beautiful centering pass to Cal Clutterbuck. Clutterbuck wristed the puck past Svedberg and into the B's net, putting the Islanders up 2 goals.
So after two periods, the Islanders controlled play, so much so, that the game's Fenwick chart was something to behold:
This is a pretty great 40 minutes. pic.twitter.com/Y2FMQdxr6O— garik16 (@garik16) October 24, 2014
The Bruins made a strong push in the third period, as you would expect they would. Halfway through the period, Loui Eriksson would steal the puck from Brian Strait, and the puck would find Chris Kelly. Kelly had half the net open to bury the puck into, and he did so, cutting the Islanders lead in half to 3-2.
Boston continued to pour it on afterwards, and Chad Johnson was up to the task. The Bruins at one point had the puck in the Islanders zone for 1:36 straight against the fourth line, but Johnson was strong, and the Islanders were able to hang on to the lead.
- Nikolay Kulemin. I'll admit that when the Islanders signed Mikhail Grabovski on July 2nd, I though of Kulemin as more or less an add-on with the signing. But each game, Kulemin impresses me more and more, and it seems he may be impressing Jack Capuano as well. Kulemin found himself getting another promotion to the Tavares line in the second half of tonight's game.
- The Fourth Line. It hurts me a little to say this, but the fourth line has been playing better than I expected this early season. No, the possession numbers weren't all that good, but the line has some offensive push to them. Cal Clutterbuck is the standout, but Matt Martin looked pretty good in this game as well.
- Chad Johnson. I've mentioned him plenty already, but he's probably the biggest reason the Islanders walk away with two points tonight. 32 Bruins shots, 30 saves, with almost half the saves coming in the final 20 minutes.
- The Referees. What?!?! Hear me out. The refs called all of two penalties, one for each team, both in the first period. I like when the flow of the game isn't interrupted with special teams battle after special teams battle. I also like when the refs let the players decide the game. They did that tonight.
- The Debutants. The Islanders welcomed back Lubomir Visnovsky and Anders Lee to the lineup for the first time in 2014-15. Neither were stellar, neither were particularly bad either. But it's nice to have them playing and getting back up to speed.
- Josh Bailey's injury. Bailey left the second period with a broken hand and is out indefinitely. I'm quite hard on Bailey, but he has found a home on the Islanders third line, and seeing him go down for an extended period of time hurts...no pun intended.