Winless in five head-to-heads with the Islanders this year, the Bruins rightfully came out like a team with something to prove Thursday night, as they blitzed the Islanders for two goals and 23 shots in the opening period.
But by the night’s end, it was Taylor Hall’s first goal in a Bruins uniform that helped put the finishing touches on a 4-1 win over Semyon Varlamov and the Islanders at TD Garden.
Taylor Hall scores his first goal as a Boston Bruin.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) April 16, 2021
3-1 game. pic.twitter.com/cV6X20aZAl
The goal featured everything you want to see from the 29-year-old Hall, too, as he used his speed to burst through the neutral zone, held off a defender, and then beat Varlamov cleanly through the wickets with a strong look.
“Most goal scorers, especially one that aren’t doing it as much they’d like, getting one excites them,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Hall. “I thought overall he had a nice game and did a lot of good things. He’s a talent. Overall, I think he feels good about his game, and away from the puck, he did his job.”
On the way to their fourth win in their last six games, the Bruins kicked things off with a video review for a goal, as Brad Marchand beat the Isles’ Semyon Varlamov at the 1:49 mark of the game on a shot that went in and out of the New York net as played rolled on. It wasn’t until a whistle at the other end that the officials were called and took a quick look at Marchand’s shot that top-line winger’s 20th goal of the 2021 was confirmed to give the B’s an early lead.
With the goal, Marchand hit the 20-goal mark for the 10th time in his career, and for the eighth straight season. In fact, the only time Marchand has failed to reach the 20-goal mark since becoming a full-time NHLer back in 2010 came during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, and even then he came close, with 18 goals in 45 games.
The Bruins jumped out to a 2-0 edge at the 17:55 mark of the opening frame on a Craig Smith power-play rip through Varlamov for his 10th tally of the season. The tally extended what’s been a straight-up torrid stretch for the veteran wing, too, with his 16th point (6-10-16) in the last 14 games.
“Nice to see us be ready to play,” Cassidy said. “We’ve been pretty good early against this team. It’s the third periods that have killed us. A good solid game. We didn’t let our foot off the gas, and we were able to extend the lead.
“No passengers tonight. Everybody helped the team win.”
But the Islanders answered in the second period — and off a Marchand turnover — to get the Bruins swimming in their own end before Travis Zajac scored his first an Islander to bring New York within one just 2:56 into the middle period.
It would be the only tally that beat Rask, making his first start since Mar. 25 (and lasting the whole game this time around), as the 34-year-old stopped all but one of the 23 shots thrown his way en route to his 300th career victory.
Already the franchise’s winningest netminder, the victory made Rask the only goaltender in team history to hit the 300-win mark, and just the 15th goalie in league history to win at least 300 games with the same franchise. Rask is only just the fourth Finn to hit that milestone, joining Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, and Pekka Rinne.
Boston played this contest without defenseman Kevan Miller. This injury is not related to Miller’s ongoing knee issues, according to the Bruins. Jarred Tinordi also sat as a scratch on the backend, which threw Jakub Zboril and Steven Kampfer back into the mix as the Black and Gold’s third pairing.
The Bruins and Islanders will reconnect for a rematch Friday night at TD Garden.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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.