Editor’s note: I goofed the schedule and posted this quick post-game recap. Check out Jenny’s for expanded thoughts here.
The New York Islanders used two gaffes by Tuukka Rask to build a 3-0 lead and several outstanding saves by Thomas Greiss under fire to cling to a 3-2 lead on their way to a 4-2 win in Boston Wednesday night.
With the Islanders on their heels as the Bruins pushed for an equalizer, Shane Prince drew a penalty with seven minutes remaining in regulation and Anders Lee’s net-crashing goal saw the Islanders actually cash in, for once, on the ensuing power play.
That helped dodge a crushing collapse as Greiss was forced to make 48 saves.
Lee’s power play goal was his second of the night and 12th of the season, and 11th in the last month. (As Eric Hornick pointed out, that’s the most in the NHL in that span.)
He had opened scoring three minutes into the game on a hilarious exchange behind the Bruins net where Brad Marchand and Rask took each other out, leaving an alert Lee to retrieve the puck from the wreckage of Bruin legs and tuck it into an empty net.
Thomas Hickey made it 2-0 two minutes later on a heads-up counterattack after the Bruins were caught pinching. Hickey simply led the attack from his own zone, used John Tavares breaking down the slot as a decoy, and beat Rask to the near spot from the high slot.
That let the Isles enter the first intermission with a 2-0 lead, and Nikolai Kulemin’s goal six minutes into the second was another Rask gift that chased the Finnish goalie from the game.
Play was close enough through the first two periods despite the 3-0 score — though the maligned Isles penalty kill aggressively killed three discombobulated Bruins power plays — but the third period saw a concerted and escalating pushback from the Bruins. Midway through the third the Bruins had out-attempted the Isles 82-37.
Anton Blidh finally broke the seal three minutes in with his first NHL goal. After four more minutes of pressure, Dominic Moore added another when Zdeno Chara’s wide-bound shot went in off Moore’s torso.
Committed to a shooting barrage from any and all locations, the Bruins came close to tying it after that, including one extended zone pressure that clearly came off a missed offside. By the end of the frame, the Bruins had outshot the Isles 23-9 in the third period alone.
But Prince used his speed to get a turnover and draw a trip from Kevan Miller as he entered the zone. The Isles power play was actually assertive and competent. Lee got the insurance goal to relieve the pressure after good work from Josh Bailey, Nick Leddy and John Tavares.
The Isles closed the rest of the game and ended their latest winless streak.
The league goes dark the weekend heading into Christmas, but the Islanders will get one more game in Friday night for Ralph Macchio Bobblehead Night in Kyle Okposo’s return to Brooklyn with the Sabres.