By Kerry Gwydir and Francis Rizzo III
A 51-shot onslaught by the Islanders, a 41-save effort by Rick DiPietro and three third-period goals helped the Islanders win a second-straight game, downing the Bruins 4-3, Saturday night in Boston.
Both teams started out cautiously in the opening period - dumping-and chasing the puck while working hard in front of each other's net. However, a giveaway by Brent Sopel inside his own zone at the midway point of the first was the first quality chance of the night as it allowed Boston's Marco Sturm to race in on a breakaway. But it was Rick DiPietro, back between the pipes, who foiled the Bruins' top left wing with a pad rejection.
With Kevin Colley in the box five minutes later, DiPietro bailed out his mates again. Again, it was Sturm for the Bruins, who was inexplicably left alone in front of the Islander net to re-direct a pass on net. The Islander goaltender butterflied along the ice to e reject that opportunity.
The Bruins continued to pressure, and wound up with a 17-second 5-on-3 when Brad Lukowich broke Wayne Primeaus stick as a dump in took an errant hop and wound up in front of a vacated Islander net.
A late powerplay for the Isles provided the first quality chance against the Bruins. As the buzzer sounded, Chris Campoli whisked off a shot that forced Tim Thomas to make stellar left pad stop. He then quickly followed that up with a left catch glove denial as time expired.
Still with the man-advantage to begin the second period, Mike York opened the scoring when he jammed home a loose puck in front of Thomas. On the play, Radek Martinek started the sequence by snapping the puck toward the Bruins' net. Trent Hunter wound up taking a second try shot that pinged in the crease before being converted.
Penalties still continued to pile up for the Isles five minutes later when the hosts went on another 5-on-3 powerplay, this time for 27 seconds when Sopel and Martinek were shipped to the sin bin. DiPietro and the Isles' penalty killers thwarted that opportunity, and eventually wound up with a 4-on-4 situation.
But, the Bruins finally found the twine at the 6:24 mark when Patrice Bergeron notched his 15th of the season when he was left unchecked in front of DiPietro to pot Sturm's centering feed.
Playing with the remainder of a powerplay to start the third period, the Islanders put quick pressure on the Bruins. Thought they couldn't capitalize on the situation, a moment after the powerplay expired, York took advantage of a stick-less Hal Gill to feed Hunter down-low for a quick shot that beat Thomas through the legs. Bruins defenseman Nick Boynton stopped the puck just behind the goal line and whipped it out, but referee Stephane Auger indicated the goal counted.
Once again though, Boston came back to tie things up about four minutes later, this time with the man-advantage. Controlling the puck in the corner of the Islanders' zone, Sergei Samsonov threw a pass up to Brad Stuart at the point, who put a hard shot on goal, toward a maze of bodies. Just before it reached DiPietro, PJ Axelsson got a stick on it, and redirected it into the goal.
Boston took its first lead of the game a moment later when Brad Boyes made it 3-2. Streaking down the right boards, Boyes fired a long-range wrister from the top of the right circle to the far side of the net, under DiPietro's catching glove. Second later, Bergeron nearly gave his team a two-goal lead, getting a breakaway that ended up clinking off the post.
The Isles certainly didn't spend any time feeling sorry for themselves, as they came right back and scored a pair of goals in 20 seconds. A face-off win by Mike York in the Bruins' zone set up a slapshot by Alexei Zhitnik, which beat Thomas over the shoulder to his stick-side, just before hometown boy Shawn Bates won a faceoff forward, recollected it from David Tanabe and tapped it across the crease to Parrish, who backhanded it past a diving Thomas for the game-winning goal.
With six minutes left in the third, penalties to Miro Satan and Joel Bouchard gave the Bruins their third 5-on-3 situation of the night, but a strong penalty kill kept the Isles ahead by a goal. The score could have been much different, as Thomas made an excellent stop on a shorthanded rush by Satan, while the ref waved off an apparent goal by Arron Asham at the 17-minute mark.
Brad Shaw used the same forward and defense pairings from Thursday night's victory over Pittsburgh. That meant Tomi Pettinen and John Erskine were healthy scratches. Brian Leetch returned to the Boston lineup after missing the past three weeks with a groin pull.
THREE STARS OF THE NIGHT: 1. Trent Hunter, 2. Patrice Bergeron, 3. Mike York.
(55) Jason Blake-(79) Alexei Yashin-(45) Arron Asham
(81) Miroslav Satan-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(12) Oleg Kvasha-(17) Shawn Bates-(37) Mark Parrish
(11) Mattias Weinhandl-(62) Kevin Colley-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(6) Joel Bouchard-(25) Brad Lukowich
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(39) Rick DiPietro
(34) Wade Dubielewicz
(16) Marco Sturm-(37) Patrice Bergeron-(26) Brad Boyes
(14) Sergei Samsonov-(20) Wayne Primeau-(11) PJ Axelsson
(47) Eric Nicklaus-(39) Travis Green-(12) Tom Fitzgerald
(83) Pat Leahy, (47) Eric Nicklaus
(22) Brian Leetch-(55) David Tanabe
(6) Brad Stuart-(68) Milan Jurcina
(25) Hal Gill-(44) Nick Boynton
(41) Andrew Alberts
(30) Tim Thomas
(31) Craig Andersson