Boston Bruins

Dec 16, 2021; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) shoots the puck against Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) in front of Bruins defenseman Mike Reilly (6) during the second period at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins couldn’t even get through a pregame warmup without losing yet another player to the league’s COVID protocols Thursday.

Already down to a skeleton crew with six players unavailable, the Bruins made it seven when Oskar Steen was a late pull from Boston’s lineup. Steen was not the only scratch from the Boston room either, as the Bruins lost another staffer in addition to Steen, which brought the total number of positives up to nine, with seven players and two team staffers officially unavailable to the Black and Gold ahead of the team’s 3-1 loss to the Islanders at Belmont Park’s UBS Arena.

But it was a loss that came with the best effort the Bruins could’ve hoped for from an 11-forward group down half of its top six (including its top one-two punch up top), with 41 shots hammered on the Isles’ Semyon Varlamov in a losing effort.

“I have no issue with the effort,” B’s coach Bruce Cassidy said after the loss. “I think our guys came to play tonight.

“All in all, I thought the guys competed hard, tried to play the right way, got better as the game went on. I thought we played a more assertive north-south game, which we’ve been trying to preach. Other than the first few minutes, we started buying into that and I thought we were attacking better.”

But unfortunately for the Bruins, that effort failed to result in much of anything, as the Bruins didn’t beat Varlamov for a goal until Mike Reilly’s garbage-time tally with 54 seconds remaining in the game and New York already up by three.

At the other end, meanwhile, the Islanders opened the scoring at the 11:47 mark of the first period. Engaged in a battle behind Linus Ullmark’s net, Brandon Carlo outmuscled Matt Martin for a loose puck and sent a backhand away from his reach, but without a Bruin able to pick up the puck, Cal Clutterbuck jumped on it and beat Ullmark for the unassisted tally.

The Islanders then built on that one-goal edge and doubled it with a second-period power-play marker from Anthony Beauvillier, and it was Clutterbuck who iced the game with an empty-net marker in the third period before Reilly’s tally.

Ullmark stopped 25-of-27 in the loss, while Bruins forward Jesper Froden made his NHL debut in the losing effort and finished with two shots, three hits, and one blocked shot in 12:59 of time on ice.

The Bruins will remain in New York and practice on Long Island on Friday before traveling to Canada, where an empty-arena game could be awaiting them Saturday night in Montreal.

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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.