Despite a pair of Keith Aucoin goals, and a 2-1 lead midway through the game, the Islanders fell 4-2 to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden Friday night. Rick DiPietro made 23 saves for the Islanders in his first start since Dec. 3, 2011 while Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 24-of-26 shots in a winning effort.
Following the game, Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano refused to accept the theory that his team tired down the stretch after winning in Toronto the night before.
“I think every team has to go through that,” Capuano said of playing two games in two nights. “It’s a mindset. You can say that, but we came ready to play tonight. I thought we did a good job fighting back after falling behind early but it wasn’t good enough.”
With the game tied 2-2 in the third period, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara broke the stalemate with the eventual game-winning goal. Milan Lucic passed the puck from the goal line to Chara at the top of the slot, who snapped a shot through traffic and beat DiPietro glove side at the 7:07 mark.
Patrice Bergeron doubled Boston’s advantage six minutes later on a breakaway goal. Brad Marchand fed him a pass through the neutral zone, while the Islanders defensemen were spread wide. Bergeron deked to his forehand and swept the puck past DiPietro.
The Islanders had a couple of chances late, but were unable to even the score. John Tavares stickhandled his way through the Bruins defense and forehanded a shot from close range on Rask, but the Boston netminder turned it aside. Kyle Okposo had another strong opportunity with one minute left, but the puck trickled wide of the goal post.
After the game, Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald let his emotions be heard.
“It’s pretty frustrating because we played a pretty solid game and we thought it was a winnable game,” he said. “Maybe we ran out of gas a little bit in the third, but we still expect a lot more.”
Early in the opening stanza, the Bruins took a 1-0 lead thanks to Shawn Thornton’s first goal of the season. Dougie Hamilton’s slap shot from the right point found its way to the Bruins winger who redirected it past DiPietro at 4:52.
Midway through the first frame, Aucoin knotted the contest at 1-1 with his second goal in as many games. David Ullstrom cycled the puck between his legs and behind the net to Colin McDonald, who found Aucoin streaking to the front of the crease. Aucoin slid the puck past Rask on a one-timer at 11:13.
Aucoin’s third tally of the season gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead midway through the second period. McDonald’s forecheck deep in the Boston zone forced a turnover before Aucoin met the drifting puck near the top of the right circle and blasted a slap shot behind Rask.
Despite the end result, Aucoin, who grew up in nearby Waltham, MA, couldn’t hold back a little excitement about his first career two-goal game in his hometown.
“It’s pretty cool,” Aucoin said. “That was my first time scoring here at the Garden, in front of my family. I played a lot of games here last year, especially in the playoffs, so to get on the board tonight - it was a pretty cool feeling to do it in front of my family and friends.”
Four minutes later, the Bruins evened the score on Gregory Campbell’s first tally of the season. David Krejci threw the puck to the net, where it bounced off Joe Finley’s skate and headed straight to Campbell’s stick just outside the crease, where the center buried his shot at 13:50.
Both teams went 0-for-3 on the man advantage. After tonight’s game, the Islanders (13/13) and the Bruins (17/17) remain the only teams in the NHL with a perfect penalty-kill percentage.
The Islanders return back to Canada for the third game of their current five-game road trip when they take on the Winnipeg Jets Sunday. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern time.
New York Islanders
63 Brad Marchand - 37 Patrice Bergeron - 19 Tyler Seguin
17 Milan Lucic - 46 David Krejci - 18 Nathan Horton
48 Chris Bourque - 23 Chris Kelly - 49 Rich Peverley
20 Daniel Paille - 11 Gregory Campbell - 22 Shawn Thornton
33 Zdeno Chara - 55 Johnny Boychuk
44 Dennis Seidenberg - 27 Dougie Hamilton
21 Andrew Ference - 54 Adam McQuaid
40 Tuukka Rask
35 Anton Khudobin