They had one good period but couldn’t break through against a guy making his fifth NHL start, gave up a brutal goal right at the end of that period, and then melted like an ice cube in the sun.
This team better get their act together soon because they’re going to run out of standings breathing room.
Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck, both hurt in last night’s game—Clutterbuck returned, but Bailey did not—missed tonight’s contest. In their stead rode Michael Dal Colle and Leo Komarov.
Dal Colle lined up at LW2 next to Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri (playing his natural RW for the first time as an Islander) while Anthony Beauvillier lined up at LW3 next to Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom. Komarov took Clutterbuck’s spot at RW4.
Casey Cizikas and Nick Leddy wore the ‘A’s that had been worn by Bailey and Clutterbuck.
Also, Ilya Sorokin manned the crease on the second half of this back-to-back.
First Period: Great Period, with One Costly Mistake
Only a minute into the game, Jeremy Swayman left a large rebound off a point shot and Nelson was there to retrieve it. Unfortunately, he lifted the puck right over the wide-open net.
A couple of minutes later, Nelson took a stretch pass at the Bruins’ blue line and flicked it ahead to Dal Colle, who had a chance all alone in front of Swayman but put it off the Boston goalie’s shoulder.
Mathew Barzal took a lazy high-sticking penalty against David Krejci. But the best opportunity of the man-advantage when Nelson and Beauvillier escaped on a two-on-one. Beauvillier tried to go low stick-side but Swayman made the stop on that shot and the rebound try by Nelson.
Later in the period, Cizikas forced a turnover in the Isles’ zone and challenged Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy got back in time but the Islanders generated some nice chances over two shifts.
Shortly thereafter, Sean Kuraly legally crushed Noah Dobson in the Isles’ zone but slashed Dobson’s stick in half as he got to his skates. The first unit didn’t do much, but the second unit had some juice. Beauvillier skated east-west through the offensive zone and dished to Palmieri. Palmieri went for the wraparound try and Swayman just barely got over. The puck kicked out to Beauvillier but Swayman crossed the crease to stop it.
Back at even strength, Jordan Eberle and Travis Zajac hung out in front of the net and Barzal found Zajac, who tried for the cross-crease pass to Eberle. But Jeremy Lauzon got his stick on it and Swayman stopped. A skirmish ensued because McAvoy did not like the way Zajac poked at Swayman.
The Islanders played an excellent period but just could not score. So, as you might expect, Boston took the lead before the period ended. With the seconds ticking off the clock, the Islanders struggled to clear the zone and Scott Mayfield chased Mike Reilly, a defenseman, behind the net, leaving David Pastrnak wide open in front of Sorokin. Frustrating.
Second Period: Predictable
As so often happens, a goal late in one period begets success for the scoring team in the following period. Less than a minute into the second, the Bruins carried play, and Taylor Hall scored again. Mayfield completely missed him and let him walk right by him to catch a pass from Krejci. Two straight horrendous shifts from Mayfield.
The Isles had a chance when McAvoy flubbed the puck at the Isles’ blue line. Beauvillier escaped but could not get a full breakaway and McAvoy lifted Beauvillier’s stick at the last second.
The Islanders had one of their typically weak second periods but managed to kill off a garbage penalty called against Eberle—not long after the referees apparently missed a call against Barzal, who had to go to the locker room for repairs.
Eberle took a high-stick right after leaving the box, but the Islanders' power play was pathetic, honestly. The Bruins have the league’s best penalty kill, but they barely had to work to kill off that power play. And then the Isles went right back on the kill after Matt Martin tripped McAvoy.
The Islanders ended the period on a power play after Kuraly threw the puck over the glass, but they failed to do much with it.
Third Period: Gross
They also failed to do much with the half of the power play with which they began the period. The only chance that they had was a point shot that Eberle tipped, but it missed just wide.
The Isles received another power play when Brad Marchand was called for a weak slash. They, again, did nothing with it.
Kuraly tried to crush Dobson as he did in the first period, but saw numbers all the way and took a boarding penalty. The only dangerous chance came for Boston after a flubbed play at the blue line, which sent the Bruins away on a two-on-one.
From there it was just a comedy of errors. Couldn’t get through the neutral zone, and when they did, they couldn’t get to the middle of the ice. They pulled the goalie but couldn’t get away from the perimeter. Curtis Lazar scored the empty-netter. Swayman gets a shutout.
Notes and Thoughts
- Mayfield has not been very good this year. He’s not the same player he was the last two years under Trotz. Not sure what’s going on with him. Maybe Devon Toews covered his ass even more than we already thought.
- The power play is atrocious. But what else is new?
- I had a feeling that Hall would score in one of these two games. But in both? Even I’m not that cynical.
- The Isles had a good first period and didn’t get rewarded for it, but then they folded like a house of cards. Haven’t been this worried about this team in a while. They’ve looked like garbage for most of every game since the 1–0 win over the Washington Capitals. Not sure what’s happened to this team. We thought it might be exhaustion, but they just had three full days off from gameplay and came out looking even worse. Extremely frustrating.
- Oh, and don’t look now, but the Bruins are now four points back of the Isles with two games-in-hand. So that’s fun.
The Islanders mercifully finish up their road trip against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night. The game will be on NBCSN and it starts at 6:30 p.m. ET. Brendan Burke hinted that he’ll have the call, and I’d guess that A.J. Mleczko will join him. Let’s hope they figure out how to stop embarrassing themselves before going on national TV.