The Boston Bruins sat and waited as the New York Islanders retired Butch Goring’s No. 91 in a pregame ceremony at the renovated Nassau Coliseum (now known as NYCB Live). It didn’t take them long to find their groove, however.
David Pastrnak added his league-leading 47th goal of the season to get the Bruins up and running just 4:30 in. Bruce Cassidy’s squad built off of that tally behind one of their better defensive efforts of the season as goals from Matt Grzelcyk (at 13:10 of the opening stanza), Brad Marchand (at 11:06 of the third) and Charlie McAvoy (5:20 after Marchand’s tally) and Tuukka Rask’s 25-save outing capped off the well-rounded 4-0 victory in Long Island.
“We had everyone involved,” Marchand told NESN’s Sophia Jurkstowicz postgame. “We didn’t just rely on the forwards or just rely on the ‘D’ — we had everyone involved moving in and out of the zone. So it just made it very difficult for them to contain us, and we just had a very good game.
The league-leading Bruins kept their seven-point lead intact over the Lightning — following Tampa’s win over Calgary — heading into Tuesday’s showdown in Central Florida. Here’s what we learned from Boston’s 10th straight road win over the Islanders.
Boston’s D thrived on both ends of the ice
The Bruins only allowed 25 shots on goal, yet they still had their work cut out for them. Their lone critique from Saturday’s tilt, if you want to call it that, was their frequent trips to the penalty box.
Yet, the Bruins shorthanded unit only allowed seven power-play shots on net and killed off all six of the Isles’ power play opportunities. On top of that, they rarely allowed secondary scoring chances both on special teams and even-strength play.
This allowed Boston’s blue-liners to quickly transition the puck down the ice for their offensive setup. They also thrived in their puck possessions down the other end of the ice. Four of Boston’s six defensemen recorded a point in the victory led by McAvoy’s three-point outing — on a goal and two assists — and Torey Krug’s two helpers.
“When you play solid defensively, you get more chances offensively — not only for us but [also] the forwards. You’re able to push the puck forward and you’re able to be the second wave of attack,” Krug told reporters. “I think we all just focused on our end of the ice first and then we were lucky enough to contribute on the other end.”
They still received some fortunate bounces, including Grzelcyk’s tally bouncing off of Johnny Boychuk’s chest before en route to the puck hitting the net. But Boston’s D created their own breaks with one of their better defensive outings this year.
Marchand and Leo Komarov renewed acquaintances
Remember when Marchand licked players just two short years ago? Well, Leo Komarov had a firsthand account of that on more than one occasion, including the Bruins-Leafs first-round series two years ago.
The league put an end to Marchand’s licking antics the following round. Komarov signed with the Islanders in the 2018 off-season and avoided any incident with Marchand for the most part over the last two years.
That was until Saturday. And no, Marchand didn’t land a smooch on Komarov this time, but he agitated the veteran forward enough during the third period.
As the 20-minute stretch progressed, Komarov took a run at Patrice Bergeron, Marchand’s longtime linemate. Pastrnak even came in to protect the duo only to receive a two-minute minor for roughing.
The Islanders entered Saturday holding the top wild-card spot in the East. The Bruins will likely face the conference’s second wild-card squad barring a collapse.
The two teams finished their regular season series Saturday, yet could very well see each other again in the spring. And we’re sure Marchand and Komarov will have a few exchanges in any potential matchup.
Bruins quickly turn things around following two-game skid
Over the last week, Cassidy started tinkering with his lineup with Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase arriving from Anaheim. He’ll likely make more adjustments in before settling on his four forward trios and three defensive pairs between now and mid-April.
Even with all the lineup changes, including sitting Anders Bjork in favor of Karson Kuhlman Saturday, the Bruins have bounced back nicely over the last two games.
David Krejci — now skating with Ritchie and Kase — sparked the Bruins against the Stars after his rare fight two nights ago. Cassidy’s squad followed that up with a stellar effort against a defensively sound Islanders.
“I think they realized they weren’ playing their best on those two nights [against Vancouver and Calgary],” Cassidy told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley. “We got back at it against Dallas in a good, hard heavy game, and we knew we were getting a good defensive team [in the Islanders] and we responded again.”
The bounce-back efforts are a testament to Cassidy’s success behind the Boston bench. The Bruins have strung together some impressive wins following a loss — singular or consecutive — and hope to keep this trend going heading into a tough three-game week with a pair of matchups against the Lightning and another with a desperate Florida Panthers bunch.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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