Boston Bruins

Dec 19, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) makes a save against Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) during a shootout at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson,

The Bruins have found their new top rival, and it’s the shootout.

Sent to the shootout for the fifth time this season on Thursday night, Brad Marchand could not send action to a fourth round, as the Bruins dropped a 3-2 final to the Islanders on TD Garden ice.

In what’s been a month-long quest for stronger starts, the Bruins got exactly that behind Anders Bjork’s first goal in 12 games, scored just 1:58 into the first period, and with the assist to Charlie Coyle.

It was quality over quantity for the Bruins, too, as it would hold as their only goal of an opening frame that included just three shots on goal. (Not that the Isles had a ton more, as they finished with their just four shots of their own.)

The Islanders responded shortly into the second period, however, as Johnny Boychuk blasted a shot through Tuukka Rask for his second goal of the season, and shortly after the Bruins failed to make good on their power-play opportunity.

Back even, this time at 1-1, Bjork nearly capitalized for his second goal of the evening in the middle frame, but was denied on what was an absolute save of the year candidate stop from the Isles’ Semyon Varlamov. To put it in perspective, Bjork already had his hands over his head in celebration when he realized that the puck was very much in Varlamov’s glove and not the net.

It didn’t take long for the Islanders to build off Varlamov’s stop and jump out front, either, as Mathew Barzal finished off a great feed from Boychuk to give the Islanders a one-goal lead with just 1:34 remaining in the second period.

Staring at an 0-for-3 on the man advantage through 40 minutes of action, an Adam Pelech penalty on Brad Marchand sent the Bruins back to the power play, and a puck over the glass penalty from Brock Nelson less than a minute later put the Bruins up two men and in search of the game-tying strike.

And it was Torey Krug who delivered, as Boston’s power-play quarterback ripped a bullet through Varlamov for the equalizer just eight seconds into the 5-on-3 to bring the game back even once again, at 2-2.

Boston continued to hammer pucks on Varlamov, and despite 16 third-period shots, the Bruins found themselves off to overtime for the second straight contest, but in search of a much different result.

And the Bruins certainly got their looks (the Islanders didn’t even touch the puck until a minute and a half into the three-on-three overtime frame), and denied a Devon Toews chance, but it was off to the shootout, where Jordan Eberle and Barzal scored for New York, while David Pastrnak was the only B’s shooter to score in the three-round loss.

Rask finished with 19 saves in a losing effort, while Varlamov stopped 27-of-29 for the victory.

Patrice Bergeron led the Bruins with seven shots on goal, and won 18 of his 24 faceoffs.

The Bruins will host the Predators at the Garden on Saturday night.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.