Given all the Islanders’ COVID-related struggles this year, I just don’t feel that bad for the Boston Bruins, who couldn’t ice an 18 skater roster and were without key players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. The Islanders needed to get the win here against a weakened opponent, just like all the teams who came here did, and they did the job tonight.
For the Islanders, who haven’t been able to get a fully healthy roster together for basically the entire season (Ryan Pulock is still out), there’s another injury - Kyle Palmieri left the game with what was revealed post-game to be a day to day lower body injury. The hardest part of this season has really been the fact that we don’t even know for sure what a settled into the season, full strength Islanders team looks like. And it may still be too late for the season before we get to see.
The Islanders started the period strong, but Kyle Palmieri took an offensive zone penalty for slashing. The Islanders killed that penalty, and then picked up where they left off, with an extended zone shift ending with a Scott Mayfield shot saved by Linus Ullmark.
But it would be a TBFLIH goal to start the scoring, with Cal Clutterbuck scoring up in the toy department. It went down as an unassisted goal, but the puck battle behind the net of Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas against Charlie Coyle and Brandon Carlo is what led to the puck popping out in front for Clutterbuck, giving the Isles a 1-0 lead.
Cal and the boys doin their thing pic.twitter.com/z7UJz2z4am— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) December 17, 2021
Erik Haula went to the box for high sticking shortly after the goal, and the best shot on the power play was an Oliver Wahlstrom shot that hit Anders Lee in front. The Bruins killed the penalty.
Tomas Novek had a good shot, but Semyon Varlamov made the save, and Scott Mayfield rushed to make a huge defensive play to stop a Karson Kuhlman chance. Jake DeBrusk also had a good shot on goal after an Isles faceoff loss in the defensive zone. Varlamov stood tall to keep the 1-0 lead.
Derek Forbort went to the box just 6 seconds in for high sticking, and Anthony Beauvillier would break his point-less streak that earned him a seat in the press box with a power play goal to extend the lead to 2-0.
Tito on the PPG YES YES YES pic.twitter.com/0tmBmz6PIh— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) December 17, 2021
Varlamov made a big save on Kuhlman, whose shot miraculously stayed out of the net. It was all Bruins following the goal, with the Islanders’ best chance coming on a Lee and Wahlstrom 2 on 1. Lee held onto the puck for way too long, though, and then passed the puck to Wahlstrom, who couldn’t get to the pass.
After a faceoff, Nick Foligno and Matt Martin fought, but while many of these fights are staged, it seems that Martin might not have been aware that was going to happen? He and Foligno had a pretty lengthy conversation from the penalty boxes after the fight.
Foligno got an instigator on that fight, sending the Islanders to the power play, but they couldn’t convert on the man advantage.
Varlamov had to turn away 20 shots from the Bruins that period in total, and some of them were big ones, the kind of nice run of play he’s needed in what had been a winless season for him so far.
Kyle Palmieri had left the game near the end of the second and did not return for the third, though there were no updates on why during the game.
Wahlstrom cut through the Boston defense all by himself and nearly got a great shot on goal but couldn’t quite get it on net. Austin Czarnik, filling in at center, tipped a one timer wide.
Then, Zdeno Chara went to the penalty box for a weak tripping call, but a minute into the Bruins’ power play, Charlie McAvoy was called for crosschecking. With just 22 seconds left in the 4 on 4, Brock Nelson took a hooking penalty, so then we had some more 4 on 4 plus another minute of Boston’s power play. The Islanders killed that, with Chara tying up Foligno in front to neutralize their best chance of the man advantage.
Later, Matt Grzelcyk was called for interference on JG Pageau, and there were some good shots on Linus Ullmark but nothing got through.
After the power play, Nelson had a great shot in the slot that was partially blocked. At the other end of the ice, Varlamov made a huge save on a Taylor Hall attempt to keep it 2-0.
With about three minutes left following the Islanders icing the puck, the Bruins pulled Ullmark for an extra skater, and Cal Clutterbuck scored into the empty net to make it 3-0.
Mike Reilly would break Varlamov’s shutout with a shot that deflected off Scott Mayfield’s stick and knuckled past him, so the Bruins would pull Ullmark again, and Clutterbuck’s hat trick effort was stopped by the post. A win’s a win, though, and the Isles collected a 3-1 victory.
- Good to see Beau get back on the scoresheet after his healthy scratch a couple of games ago. We need him to produce and he’s a streaky player, so hopefully that goal will get him going again.
- With Palmieri out, it’ll be Josh Bailey on the hot seat for points production. He got a secondary assist on the Beauvillier goal but he just hasn’t been enough of a factor.
- Robin Salo picked up his first NHL point tonight, so congrats to him!
- And great to see Varlamov getting his first win of the season with the best game he’s had all season. Too bad about the shutout.
Next, assuming that the NHL won’t stop due to the massive amounts of COVID cases going around, the Vegas Golden Knights will come to UBS Arena for the first and only time this season. For a while, Vegas was the last win the Islanders had in the US in over a month. Bailey had the game winner there, so... maybe he’ll make it two?