The New York Islanders fought back from a two-goal deficit to steal a 4-2 win from the Boston Bruins at Nassau Coliseum on Friday night, closing out a five-game homestand with a 4-0-1 record.
“This is one of the best teams in the league,” defenseman Jack Hillen said. “We didn’t get down on ourselves. We stuck together just like we’ve been doing for awhile now. It just goes to show what our team is capable of doing and its really fun to play when you have a team like this, when everyone sticks up for each other. You can really see us gelling now.”
The win singlehandedly delivered the Bruins their only regulation loss of the season which came after Boston had a two-goal lead.
“That’s huge,” goaltender Al Montoya said. “That just shows character like we’ve been talking about in this locker room. The character is huge, guys are never giving up. Going into the third period, we knew we were in the game. We just needed to get a couple more shots and that’s what we did. They didn’t really have much.”
John Tavares #91, Matt Moulson #26 and Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders celebrate Moulson's goal at 19:58 of the second period against Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins at the Nassau Coliseum on March 11, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The win also lifted the Islanders to 49 points in the standings, tying them with the Bruins and designating the two teams as the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference since Dec. 16. The Bruins have gone 22-12-5 while the Islanders are on their tail with a 22-14-5 record.
“Against a team that doesn’t give you much, against a goaltender that’s probably one of the best goalies in the league, our guys battled hard,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “In the third period we established our forecheck and we got pucks to the net.”
With two seconds left in the second period, Matt Moulson’s, power play goal, his 29th goal of the season, cut the Bruins two-goal lead in half and gave the Islanders the momentum they would need to carry them into the final 20 minutes of play.
“I think it was Bergeron or someone had the puck, I lifted his stick and was lucky he didn’t shoot it a split second later,” Moulson said. “I ended up getting it, and PA (Parenteau) yelled at me so I passed to him, he gave it to Johnny (Tavares), and Johnny made an unbelievable pass to me. And somehow it found its way in.”
Everyone on the team credited that goal to the final outcome. Despite outshooting the Bruins in each period, the Islanders didn’t seem to come alive until late in the second period when Moulson’s goal sparked a 3 goal run over six minutes.
“It turned the momentum,” Hillen said. “A 2-1 game is completely different from a 2-0 game. It gave us a lot of momentum coming out in the third and I think it showed.”
Montoya spoke of the effort the team displayed, and made it clear the Islanders were prepared for their opponent.
“We knew what they were up against tonight,” Montoya. We knew they had a couple games in a couple nights. They came back and forth a little bit in the first period, but give these guys some credit here. Our guys came out, battled, put pucks on net and didn’t get frustrated. This is phenomenal to get a win against this team in our building.”
At 1:28 in the third, Michael Grabner’s 28th goal of the season tied the score at two. He failed on his first and second attempt, but when the puck came loose in the slot after Andrew MacDonald’s slapshot from the point and Okposo’s deflection from the paint, Grabner did a spin-o-rama to free some space and net the puck past goaltender Tim Thomas.
PA Parenteau #15 of the New York Islanders is awarded a goal after he gets pulled down in front of an empty net by Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins on March 11, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
At 5:58, Jack Hillen’s snap shot from the point, which deflected off of Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and into the goal, would bring the Islanders ahead 3-2 and also give the Isles defenseman his fourth goal of the season.
“I thought (Hillen) was playing exceptional,” Capuano said. “On the two-on-one play that he made across, him coming down the wall tonight had five shots after two periods. You could sense that he was going pretty well. It nice to see guys get rewarded when they put in the effort like he did tonight.”
PA Parenteau lifted the Islanders to a 4-2 win as he was awarded an empty net goal at 19:50. It was assumed he would have scored a goal on the breakaway had he not been hooked by Bruins center Patrice Bergeron.
Nathan Horton gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 16:29 of the first period and then a 5-on-3 power play goal from Zdeno Chara at 13:02 of the second period increased the goal differential 2-0.