By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It was hardly a masterpiece, but the Bruins found a way to keep it rolling on Tuesday, beating the Metropolitan-best Islanders by a 3-1 final at TD Garden.
A game fittingly opened and closed by Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, skating in his 1,000th game with the Bruins.
“Nice script,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy offered after the win. “Glad it went our way.
“[Bergeron]’s a consummate pro, terrific person, terrific hockey player, terrific dad and I assume a terrific husband. All the above, so very happy things worked out well for him today, and I’m not surprised.”
Deadlocked in a scoreless affair in the second period, it was Bergeron that tucked a loose puck through the Islanders’ Robin Lehner just 2:32 into the period, good for his 17th goal of the season, and with the puck absolutely hunted down by Brad Marchand as Zombie Nation played over the Garden PA.
But in what was a heavyweight fight of a middle period as these teams traded hits and shoves all over every inch of the ice, Jordan Eberle and the Islanders responded on the power play, leaving the third period to be settled in a true grind fashion.
That advantage appeared to go to the Islanders, too, as Cal Clutterbuck appeared to struck for the go-ahead goal early in the period. It was a goal that simply came with the Islanders outworking the Black and Gold, as a lost faceoff in the N.Y. end gave the Islanders possession and the speed needed to break through into the B’s zone.
The Bruins immediately challenged the goal, however, and were granted a break as it was determined that Devon Toews was indeed offside, resetting the teams back to their 1-1 draw.
Boston used that break to their advantage, too, as Peter Cehlarik capitalized for the second goal of the night, scored just 2:40 after the would-be go-ahead goal from the Islanders was canceled out by the challenge.
Fresh off his record-breaking win over the Capitals on Sunday, it was goaltender Tuukka Rask stole the show for the Bruins, though, with stops on all but one of the 29 shots thrown his way. Boston’s calmer as their last line of defense, Rask routinely and repeatedly snuffed out countless Islander chances on net.
Rask even stood his ground in what was a four-minute penalty kill for the Black and Gold late in the third period, with huge stops on Eberle and Brock Nelson in the opening 33 seconds of the kill, and making five stellar stops in all by the end of the successful kill.
“We played pretty well in front of Tuukka,” Cassidy said. “He was there for us again, so our structure was good. Penalty kill excellent in the third. We’ve had some issues with that at home in the third, protecting leads. Tonight, we did. They did a real good job. Probably the difference in the game.”
But in a night about Bergeron, it was No. 37 that put a bow on things with his 18th goal of the season, an empty-netter dropped back from Pastrnak and with Bergeron all alone in front of a vacant New York cage.
“That’s the respect they have for Patrice I think in that particular situation and for one and other,” said Cassidy. “They’ve done it before where they try to include everybody. Sometimes they’ve messed up empty-net goals. That one would’ve been hard to, but they’ve done that in the past. And again, they play for one and other, that line, and it shows every night, how good they are.”
Winners of two in a row, the Bruins now head to New York for a Wednesday night meeting with the Rangers.