Just like they did in the first two games in Boston, the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders split their two games on Long Island in their East Division second-round Stanley Cup playoff series in Games 3 and 4. The Bruins took a 2-1 series lead in Game 3 on Thursday night with a, 2-1, overtime win. Saturday night in Game 4, the Islanders evened the series at 2-2 with a, 4-1, victory.
With the two teams heading back to Boston for Game 5 Monday night, here are three takeaways from the two games played on Long Island.
Bruins Finally Win on Long Island
The 2021 regular season was not too kind to the Bruins in terms of their four games at the Nassau Coliseum against the Islanders. Boston lost all four trips to Long Island in the regular season, three in regulation and one in a shootout. After losing Game 2 at home Monday night, if the Black and Gold have visions of advancing to the semifinals, they would have to find a way to win at least one the road.
Not only were the results not good during the season, but some of the numbers were not good either. In the four regular-season games, the Islanders outscored the Bruins, 7-0, in the third period and they scored goals in all three facets of the game, on the power play, shorthanded, and even strength. Thursday night, the Bruins got over the Islanders’ home dominance to get a victory. Brad Marchand scored 3:36 into the first overtime to give the Bruins a 2-1 win.
Saturday night in Game 2, three third-period goals from the Islanders evened the series. If you’re keeping score at home, in six games this season in the regular season and playoffs, the Bruins have been outscored 11-0 in the third period at the Nassau Coliseum. It could be worse for Boston, they could easily be coming home trailing 3-1, instead of tied 2-2.
Rask Showed No Signs of “Nagging” Injuries
One of the storylines between Games 2 and 3 was the health of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. On Tuesday, coach Bruce Cassidy said that Rask has been dealing with some ”nagging” injuries, but he would still be playing in Games 3 and 4. Following the two games in Boston, it certainly didn’t look like Boston’s top goalie was dealing with nagging injuries. It didn’t look like in Games 3 and 4 either.
In Game 3, Rask made 28 saves in the Bruins overtime win and he was a big reason why his teammates had the chance in overtime to win the game. After Craig Smith gave Boston a 1-0 lead early in the first period, Rask stopped Anthony Beauvillier on a breakaway. He gave up a third-period goal to Mathew Barzal, but he made two big saves in the overtime before Marchand’s game-winner. He stopped Barzal and Jordan Eberle on close chances before Marchand buried his third career playoff overtime goal.
In Game 4, Rask made 30 saves and in reality, kept the Bruins in the game to give them a chance to win. He was making reactionary saves, he was out challenging shots and the two goals he gave up, were not his fault. Kyle Palmieri scored on a one-timer from the slot in the second period and Barzal swatted a deflected puck out of the air late in the third period for the game-winning goal. The Islanders scored two empty-net goals to seal the win.
Bruins Penalty Kill Better Than First Two Games
All season long, one of the strengths for the Bruins was their penalty kill, which finished the 56-game regular season ranked second in the NHL. In the first two games against the Islanders, the penalty kill was not as good for Boston as it was in the regular season or even in their first-round win over the Washington Capitals in five games.
New York went 3-for-6 in the first two games at the TD Garden, which included two second-period power play goals in Game 2 during a three-goal outburst in the period that was a big part of the Islanders’ 4-3 overtime win. In Games 3 and 4, the Bruins were perfect on the kill. In Game 3, Boston killed all three Islanders opportunities, including one in the final 2:15 of regulation to force overtime.
In Game 4, the Bruins killed both Islanders’ chances, and in the third period, Boston actually had the best scoring chances on New York’s second power play. Patrice Bergeron and Marchand each had opportunities stopped by Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov, Bergeron on a tip, and Marchand on a wrap-around.
In what was expected to be a long series, it is now a best-of-three with the series shifting to Boston for Game 5. Considering the Bruins 1-5 combined record in the regular season and playoffs at the Nassau Coliseum, Game 5 is as close to a must-win for Boston as it gets. You don’t want to go back to New York Wednesday night for Game 6 needing a win to extend the series to a Game 7.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.