By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins’ offensive struggles continued Monday, and hit their low point of their opening three games, as they were shutout by Semyon Varlamov and the New York Islanders by a 1-0 mark at Nassau Coliseum.
It felt like both sides hung on to the 0-0 draw for as long as they could, too, as the game-winning goal came off a high bat-in from New York’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau with just over four minutes left in the third period.
Boston landed 27 shots on goal in the losing effort, but were unable to land more than 11 shots on goal in a period, which came in their opening 20 minutes of action.
The Bruins’ middle frame came with two high-quality looks on Varlamov, the first on a shorthanded look from the Jack Studnicka and Sean Kuraly combo, and then another at even strength when Studnicka found Nick Ritchie for a one-timer that couldn’t squeak through the Islander netminder and into the net.
Boston’s third kicked off with another successful penalty kill, but failed to translate into quick offense the other way, and were dealt a brutal blow when Matt Grzelcyk left with an undisclosed injury following a tie-up with the Islanders’ Jordan Eberle.
Matt Grzelcyk heads to the room after getting tied up with Jordan Eberle. Not good. pic.twitter.com/2ljVDgJONJ— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 19, 2021
But it was the B’s goaltending that once again kept them in this game, with Tuukka Rask making his best save of the night on an Anthony Beauvillier breakaway with 10:28 remaining in the third.
That was until the Pageau goal with 4:09, which came on New York’s 15th shot of the game.
The Bruins then immediately complicated their issues with a Charlie McAvoy penalty drawn by Beauvillier.
Their penalty kill came through in the clutch once again, however, and set the Bruins up for a 6-on-5 opportunity with a minute and a half remaining in the third period.
That sequence came with its looks, as well, with Nick Ritchie on the doorstep for a pair of chances, and Brad Marchand unable to put it through Varlamov off Ritchie’s rebound that skittered to the right.
New York’s victory snapped what was a 10-game home losing streak to the Bruins. And with the loss, the Bruins have now gone three straight games without a five-on-five goal.
“I suspect they’ll be a bit of that [and] rightfully so,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said when asked if frustrating is beginning to creep into his team’s offensive game. “But we’re not cheating [defensively].”
Winger Ondrej Kase, hit up high by the Devils’ Miles Wood early in Saturday’s overtime loss, missed this contest due to an upper-body injury. That threw Studnicka back into the mix after he was scratched last Saturday, and in Kase’s spot on Boston’s second line, while Jake DeBrusk skated with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the first line.
The Bruins will return to Boston for what will be a four-game stretch at TD Garden beginning with Thursday’s home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers.