Loui Eriksson scored on a backhand rebound at 12:26 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie that had stood for the previous 30 minutes, handing the New York Islanders a loss in a low-scoring but shot-happy affair in Boston.
Bruins wall Tuukka Rask stopped 39 shots in the win, but 34 saves at the other end made for one of Chad Johnson's better starts in what has been a frustrating season for the former Bruin.
John Tavares had opened scoring midway through the first period, a rebound on their only successful power play in four tries. But as he is wont to do, Patrice Bergeron erased that gain just four minutes later with a rebound power play goal of his own. The teams then exchanged plenty of shots over the next half hour of game time, but Eriksson was the only one to break through, spinning and eluding Matt Martin at the top of the crease to shovel a backhand past a prone Johnson.
The loss means the Isles miss a chance to jump back into first place in the Metropolitan Division, and makes for four regulation losses in their last five games. They have another chance early Sunday evening in Buffalo, where the Sabres will also be playing the second half of a back-to-back.
- The ceremonial opening faceoff was conducted by members of the New England Patriots, who are apparently based in Boston and recently won the "world championship" of concussion competitions contested among the worlds' 32 greatest U.S.-based handball teams.
- For the second consecutive game, the Islanders had a fight in the opening minutes, though this time the combatants were...unexpected. Ryan Strome and Torey Krug had a routine board battle along the halfboards in the Bruins zone devolve into a slugfest that ended with some sort of respectful exchange of pleasantries and probably had Jack Edwards channeling his most passionate half-remembered 4th-grade U.S. History lesson.
- Sunday the Isles will visit a Sabres team that beat the Stars 3-2 tonight despite being heavily outshot (40-24), having opened an early 3-0 lead on Anders Lindback of the Stars.
- In theory, the Isles have a schedule tonic for their current skid: The Sabres, Oilers and Leafs are next, with the latter two at home.
- Jack Capuano referenced injuries in the post-game, however, including Michael Grabner and Cal Clutterbuck (edit: and of course the cut to Calvin de Haan's face from a skate). So we'll see who's healthy Sunday.
- Speaking of which, Newsday had some quotes from Lubomir Visnovsky about being healthy scratched, saying of course he's [ticked off] but understands with his health and the way things have gone. (I don't understand, but that's neither here nor there.)
- Brad Marchand is still Brad Marchand:
Marchand with the double knee drop into Bailey's back on that play. He's an incredible piece of despicable barn animal feces.— Keith (@KeithLHHockey) February 8, 2015
Johnson looked a little more at ease out there, and said so:
My game had a little more flow to it, a little more comfortable. The more you can be in the net, the more comfortable and confident you'll be. Having a game less than a week ago helped me tonight.
"We played a solid game against a good hockey team, had some chances...we gotta find a way to score some more goals. ... You play a goaltender like that, you know he's going to make some big saves.
"There were a lot of shots on both goalies tonight, it was just theirs from Ericsson, the rebound came out and it went in. I thought Chad was excellent though, he gave us a chance to win. It's disappointing not to come out of this one with at least a point, to be honest with you."
Nothing panic-worthy about this one, really, as the Isles even got a solid performance from their backup goalie.
As the coach said, the team created chances -- a Frans Nielsen one-timer just before Bergeron's equalizer could have made it 2-0 -- but ran into the Rask Show. Two good teams, playing a close game, and this time the Isles ended up on the short end.
Quote of the Night
Glad I picked Strome in the @LHHockey FIF (first islander fight) pool.— Pach Zearce (@molemanfilms) February 8, 2015