Coming off of a successful road trip that saw the Bruins take five of eight points, the B’s returned home on Saturday and outgunned the Flyers 6-3. With the B’s offense rolling, the team was set to continue its streak with a Monday matinee match-up with the lowly New York Islanders at TD Garden.
If only it were that simple. Boston’s offense screeched to a halt against the Islanders, and a couple of blunders in the defensive zone left the Bruins scratching their heads with that all-too-familiar “what happened?” feeling. The B’s fell apart late in the second period and were unable to pull themselves together, falling 4-0 to the Islanders. The shutout marks the first time the Islanders have ever shutout the Bruins in Boston.
The first frame saw both teams playing conservative hockey, hoping the other would make a mistake. No mistake was made, and it was a very quiet period. Defensively, the Bruins were rolling – they gave up just three shots.
Offensively, the Bruins registered seven shots in the first but lacked the ferocity up front that they possessed against the Flyers. Boston’s lack of pace in the first remained throughout the game, as the B’s struggled to create quality opportunities in all three frames.
There’s more shots in this #3MinsofFame mini game than the whole first period #Bruins #NYI
— Lady Bruins Fan (@LadyBruinsFan) January 16, 2017
The first half of the second period was similar to the first. Neither team took chances, and it seemed as though the first goal would be the only goal. Then, all of a sudden, the Islanders converted on a few of the Bs’ defensive lapses and unleashed for three unanswered goals.
Nikolay Kulemin buried his first of two to break the ice for the Islanders after sneaking into the unoccupied slot in front of the Boston net. While the Bruins puck-watched in the corner, Kulemin slid into the slot, caught a pass, out-waited Tuukka Rask and buried it for his sixth of the season.
A patient start for Kulemin, who has a pair of goals on the day. #NYIvsBOS pic.twitter.com/vXuFKttY2L
— NHL (@NHL) January 16, 2017
One minute and forty-two seconds later, Josh Bailey put an off-angle shot on net that somehow found its way through Rask, giving the Isles a two-goal advantage. Rask’s uncharacteristic slip-up was a signal of Boston’s second-period collapse, as the Bruins couldn’t get anything going in front of him.
With a minute and a half to go, Rask stuffed Casey Cizikas on the breakaway, but the Isles forward chased down his own rebound and found Kulemin who, for the second time in five minutes, had slipped behind the Boston defense. He fired his second of the game past Rask to put the Islanders up 3-0.
Kulemin makes it 3-0 on a saucy Cizikas feed pic.twitter.com/ZcMZGfuNZW
— Eyes on Isles (@eyesonislesFS) January 16, 2017
Down three goals headed into the third, Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien opted to replace Rask with Zane McIntyre, hoping to spark some life into his team. They started the third period with just over a minute of powerplay time that had rolled over from the second, but they failed to convert on the much-needed opportunity to start the third.
Halfway through the period, the B’s got a second chance to climb back into the game via the powerplay. Instead, a mishandle by Brad Marchand at the top of the zone led to a shorthanded goal by Jason Chimera, putting a dagger in any chance the Bruins had at making a comeback.
After falling 0-3, the B’s lacked the desperation needed to turn the tide. They lacked focus and drive to get the wheels turning offensively, and it showed in what was an uninspiring performance overall by the Bruins.
Heading into Monday’s afternoon contest, there was a sense that the Bruins could be hitting a turning point in the season. That feeling was lost with their embarrassing shutout loss.
NYI – Nikolay Kulemin (6) assisted by Casey Cizikas (12) and Jason Chimera (8)
NYI – Josh Bailey (6) assisted by Anders Lee (6) and Adam Pelech (3)
NYI – Nikolay Kulemin (7) assisted by Casey Cizikas (13)
NYI – Jason Chimera (8) unassisted
THW Three Stars
First: Thomas Greiss (32 saves, shutout)
Second: Nikolay Kulemin (2 Goals)
Third: Casey Cizikas (2 Assists)
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