Life is Riley; Nash playing role of unlikely savior
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Entering Saturday’s game with the Islanders, the Bruins really needed a victory and for some important players to come through. The usual suspects, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, David Pastrnak and David Krejci all needed to provide a spark and lead by example.
Not to go unnoticed are Dominic Moore and Riley Nash, who have been a consistent presence on the fourth line and playing a 200-foot game with each and every shift. The latter arguably became the Bruins savior at the Barclays Center on Saturday.
Nash’s pair of goals were the only ones the Bruins needed. Including his two-point effort against the Lightning, the fourth line energy producer has four points in the last two games. His three goals over that span has nearly doubled his goal total from four prior to Thursday’s loss versus Tampa to seven.
“It’s quite the output compared to my season so far, so I’ll take it,” Nash said with a chuckle after the Bruins’ 2-1 win over the Islanders. “I’m glad they finally came.”
The Bruins are glad they got the offensive production from Nash.
In a tight-checking game where the two teams combined for only 37 shots on goal, the Bruins’ fourth line grabbed the spotlight again.
Unlike the previous two years, the B’s fourth line has done more good than harm this season. The addition of Noel Acciari has really given Bruce Cassidy and company a formidable trio.
He may not provide the leadership in the offensive department, but make no mistake, Nash’s importance as a veteran in the locker room can only be a good thing. On Saturday, the former Cornell forward led by example.
“Like I said before, your leaders lead and your followers follow, and he did a real good job,” Cassidy said about Nash. “And he’s got a real good shot so hopefully he uses that a little bit more. But, you can’t say enough about those goals – we needed them tonight.”
“He’s finding his stride and playing with confidence, and it’s great to see,” Moore added about his fellow linemate. “You know, he’s been working hard and he’s been a reliable player for us.”
Nash’s game-winner early in the third period was a perfect example of sticking with the play. After getting bumped along the boards, Nash stayed closer to the blue-line while Moore was battling for positioning. Moore won that battle and Nash and found some space in the slot before sniping his second of the night past Thomas Greiss for the game-winner.
“I was just trying to stay above [the ‘D] and I knew Dom [Moore] was in a tight spot there on the blue-line, so if he turns it over we’re going to have to have a third guy high,” Nash said about the sequence that led to his second of the night at 4:12 of the final stanza.
“So, I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to join the play, I was just wondering if he was going to put it deep or not. But [Moore] obviously made a heck of a turn and found me late.”
Fittingly enough, Nash and the fourth line took center stage in a grinding affair on Saturday as the Bruins sit in sole possession of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Any loss would have put another flame in their postseason hopes if they suffered their fourth straight loss.
For a team that’s been playing playoff-type hockey over the past few months, Saturday was undoubtedly another example of the ‘biggest game of the season.’
“I think everyone in here knew that this was the biggest game of the season. It was really going to be an uphill battle if we lost this one,” Nash said. “We came out desperate, and I think both teams came out and played a pretty tight playoff style game. That’s how it kind of has to be the rest of the way, so we got to hunker down and try to take it one game at a time as the old cliche goes.”
Their next biggest game of the season – and a chance for Nash to pad his stats for a third straight game – is Tuesday night against the Predators at TD Garden.