Uniondale, NY- The New York Islanders have a return engagement with the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Finals after roundly dispatching the Boston Bruins 6-2 en route to a 4 games to 2 series win.
The Islanders controlled the action for a majority of the game as they made the Bruins look out of sorts all night. The offense was powered by Brock Nelson, two goals, while Semyon Varlamov, 23 saves, shut the door on the Bruins in goal.
“They were able to win when they didn’t have their A game,” said Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. “Much more opportunistic than us.”
The Islanders drew first blood when Travis Zajac potted his first goal of the postseason at 8:52. Zajac corralled a Noah Dobson rebound in front of Tuukka Rask and beat the Bruins goalie up high to give the Islanders the lead. Jean-Gabriel Pageau carried the puck out from behind the Bruins goal and dished to Dobson for a shot from the blue line before Zajac struck.
Back to back Tripping calls helped Boston establish their game towards the end of the first period. The Islanders killed off the first penalty on Anthony Beauvillier but Brad Marchand made sure to capitalize on the follow up call on Casey Cizikas. Marchand buried a David Pastrnak one-timer cross ice pass past Semyon Varlamov to tie the game 1-1 at 17:36. David Krejci set up the play with a fake shot attempt that drew the Islanders defense away from Pastrnak before he fired off his pass to Marchand.
The Bruins imploded during the second period. A late hit by Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri knocked Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy out of the game for a few shifts. It wasn’t the same game after that. The Islanders were all over the Bruins in the middle frame, as has been their wont all series.
“They’ve (New York) been a good second period team throughout the playoffs,” said Cassidy. “We mis-managed pucks. that could happen at any point, nevermind the second period.”
Brock Nelson stole the puck from Matt Grzelcyk in the neutral zone then raced in and beat Rask glove side to make it 2-1 Islnaders at 5:20.
McAvoy returned but looked lost. As did his teammates.
Rask tried to rim the puck from behind his net but defenseman Mike Reilly wasn’t alert to the play. The puck deflected off Reilly to Islanders forward Josh Bailey who dished to Nelson. Nelson would make it 3-1 when he back-handed a shot past Rask at 12:39.
Another Grzelcyk giveaway would make it 4-1 Islanders when Palmieri picked the Bruins defenders pocket right in front of Rask and was able to knock the puck past Rask at 16:07.
Marchand notched his second power play goal of the evening at 5:38 when he back-handed a Krejci feed down low. The goal gave the visitors a slight jump in momentum but that only lasted a few minutes as the Islanders clamped down on any further Boston third-period heroics.
A pair of empty-net goals sealed the deal for the Islanders in the final minute of play. The first by Cal Clutterbuck at 19:01 and the second by defenseman Ryan Pulock at 19:13.
“This was a team loss all the way down the line,” said Cassidy.
“I thought we battled hard,” said Bruins goalie Rask. ” We just fell a little short. Credit to the Islanders.”
The Islanders move on to face Tampa later in the week. Games one and two will be in Tampa at Amalie Arena.