The Boston Bruins halted the New York Islanders two-game winning streak Thursday, topping the Isles 5-2 at Nassau Coliseum.
John Tavares and Michael Grabner scored, but a Kevan Miller goal in the last seconds of the middle period broke a 2-2 tie in the Bruins favor. Miller’s goal ultimately held up as the game-winner, but a Torey Krug goal at the start of the third period deflated the Islanders comeback attempt.
“When they get a goal with three seconds left, it shouldn’t be a letdown, but it is,” said Johnny Boychuk. “You have to just go into the next period – it was only 3-2 – and score the next goal and we didn’t. We just have to put this behind us.”
The Islanders outshot the Bruins 45-33, but played catch-up virtually all game. Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead in the first period, as the visitors stifled the Islanders in the neutral zone and capitalized on the Islanders 12 giveaways. Smith drove to the net, got inside position and redirected a Milan Lucic pass behind Jaroslav Halak at 13:59. Bergeron padded the lead 2:10 later, skating through the circle and snapping a wrist shot stick side on Halak.
“I don’t think we had a great start tonight and obviously they got a two-goal lead,” Tavares said. “Maybe it was coming off the Ranger game, but we’ve done a pretty good job of that this year after emotional wins, sometimes it just happens. That’s a good team in Boston and they are always ready to play.”
The Islanders regrouped in the second period, turning the momentum with two glorious scoring chances before Tavares converted on the unlikeliest of plays. Tuukka Rask laid out with his arm and made a desperation goal line save on Michael Grabner, moments before Brock Nelson hit the post on a semi-open net.
Tavares’ 23rd goal of the season started innocently enough, as the Islanders captain chipped the puck on Rask from center ice. Rask bobbled the rebound, which Tavares scooped up top shelf with a backhand at 8:25.
Tavares was in on the tying goal as well, fishing out a puck from below the red line and feeding Johnny Boychuk at the point. Michael Grabner got a stick on Boychuk’s wrister, beating Rask with 4:48 to play in the period.
The Islanders were poised to enter the third in a hard-earned 2-2 tie, before Miller beat Halak with a long-range wrister with 3.4 seconds to play. The seeing-eye shot put the visitor’s ahead 3-2 by the time of the second scrape.
Torey Krug put Boston up 4-2, 1:45 into the third period, deflecting a Lucic shot off Halak’s glove and across the line. Lucic iced the game with an empty-netter with 2:06 to play.
“We were a bit sloppy on those two goals. The end of the second period, start of the third period really put his behind the eight ball,” Tavares said.
Halak made 28 saves Thursday, but also racked up a team-high four giveaways, including a costly misplay that led to Miller’s game-winning goal. Rask made 43 saves in the win.
The Islanders travel to Detroit for a Saturday afternoon matinee against the Red Wings. The puck drops at Joe Louis Arena at 2 p.m.