Barry Trotz coached his 1,700th NHL game tonight and his team won a Trotzian game in a shootout against the Boston Bruins. The Islanders improved to 11–0–2 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, still the only team in the NHL that has not lost in regulation at home. They have also won six straight games, have points in nine straight, and have won all four against Boston—though all four have been at the Coliseum.
Leo Komarov drew back into the lineup for the first time in a while, taking the place of Michael Dal Colle on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s line. Semyon Varlamov was next up in the goalie rotation for New York. Meanwhile, old friend Jaroslav Halak, who got shellacked for five goals in the third period the last time these two teams played, got the crease for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask was hurting from Sunday’s game against the Devils.
First Period: Hot Start, Cool Finish
The Isles had some good jump to start the game. In particular, Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle cruised in on a two-on-one, similar to the Game 5 OT winner against Tampa, but Eberle hit the outside of the near post, despite a yawning cage behind Halak.
Lee tripped Charlie Coyle to send the Bruins to their first power play. For the second time in a couple of weeks, Varlamov lost his balance while the Islanders killed a penalty, as he did against the Penguins. And for the second time, the elite offensive player holding the puck recognized it and just threw the puck into the net. Last time, it was Sidney Crosby; this time, David Pastrnak. It was a little floater that he likely would not have shot had he not seen Varlamov stumble. A little weird, but Varlamov was strong the rest of the game, so we can forgive him.
Second Period: Not Great, but a Tie
Early in the period, the Isles received their first man advantage but did nothing with it. They then killed off the strangest boarding call I’ve ever seen on Oliver Wahlstrom—he did not actually hit him into the boards—but not before Varlamov absolutely robbed David Krejci with his paddle.
Not long after escaping the box, Wahlstrom went to hit Connor Clifton and Clifton caught an edge half a second before. Brad Marchand, possessing the intelligence of his nickname-namesake rodent, thought Wahlstrom played dirty and just started punching him. Wahlstrom received two minutes for boarding, but Marchand earned himself four minutes for roughing and gave the Isles a power play on which they tied the game.
Brad Marchand objects to Oliver Wahlstrom's hit on Connor Clifton. pic.twitter.com/6VXEBTxkdw— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 10, 2021
The first unit could not convert, but Mathew Barzal stayed out to take Wahlstrom’s place. He sent it to Jean-Gabriel Pageau, waiting at the blue line, who one-touched the puck to Brock Nelson in the bumper spot. Nelson dropped to one knee and swiped the puck as soon as it came to him, beating old friend Jaroslav Halak.
Take another look at Nelson's equalizer! pic.twitter.com/aLFlUJCnGz— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 10, 2021
When the period ended, Pageau gave Marchand a nice shove in the back. Then Komarov, who has a history with Marchand dating back to when he played for Toronto, put him in a headlock. That was fun to see.
Brad Marchand & Leo Komarov exchange pleasantries. pic.twitter.com/OAQjb1ZNnj— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 10, 2021
Third Period: Much Better, but No Goals
The third was all Isles. After a two-way non-icing, the Bruins gave it away in their own zone, right to Barzal. Lee cheated down and found himself wide open in front of a flailing Halak, but could not corral the bouncing puck. Also, Barzal and Eberle had a nice give-and-go that McAvoy deflected away.
On one rush into the Isles’ zone, Wahlstrom beautifully backchecked to break up a potential three-on-one. You know the coach loves to see that.
The Islanders had a great third period but no one got on the board and we went to overtime.
Unlike their previous overtimes, the Islanders actually seemed determined to put the puck on net. That, predictably, led to some firewagon hockey. But that’s what three-on-three is supposed to be.
At one point, Marchand picked Beauvillier’s pocket and went in alone on Varlamov, but Marchand rang the puck off the post.
Barzal and Pageau had two two-on-ones, the second one coming when they were dead tired. However, no goals came and we went to the shootout.
Shootout: Hey, We Won in Extra Time
Eberle went first and blew by Halak, but Pastrnak answered right back with a wrister of his own.
In Round 2, Halak stopped Barzal and Varlamov bested Coyle.
In Round 3, Anthony Beauvillier danced and backhanded a roof shot over Halak. Marchand stumbled on his way into Varlamov and the Isles goalie got just a piece of his off-balance shot. The Isles took the extra point, much to Varlamov’s delight.
the save and the celly >>>> pic.twitter.com/JcGFtQCu0g— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 10, 2021
The Islanders begin another weekend three-game set, this time with the New Jersey Devils. It differs from the one they just had with the Sabres because they will not play in only one building. Thursday night will be at the Coliseum at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday evening at 5:00 p.m. will both be at the Rock in Newark.