Over the last 10 months, the New York Islanders have had the Boston Bruins number. After eliminating the Bruins in six games in the second round of the playoffs last June, the Islanders won both of the first two games this season on Long Island. Despite the struggles they have been through in 2021-22, the Islanders won both games in convincing fashion and outscored the Black and Gold 7-2. Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden, Boston was finally able to solve New York.
Boston erupted for six goals from six different players and had 10 different players record a point as the Bruins beat the Islanders, 6-3, to win their 14th game in their last 17. With the win, the Bruins move into second place in the Atlantic Division, one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning and two ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Bruins Third Line Continues to Shine
Over the past couple of seasons, the Bruins have been a top-six dominant team. That was the case until Feb. 24 when coach Bruce Cassidy moved around his lines. He put Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle, and Craig Smith together as his third line, and since being put together, they have supplied the Black and Gold with depth behind their top-six.
Saturday, the line opened the scoring when Smith scored his 15th goal of the season, his ninth since the line was put together, when a Brandon Carlo shot from the point missed the net, but the bounce off the boards came in front of the Islanders net and Smith was able to bury it into an open net. As he has been since Feb. 24, Smith was in the right place at the right time.
For the game, the line finished with 10 of the Bruins 44 shots on the net, with Smith leading the trio with five. Moving forward, if this line continues to play the way they have, they make Boston a deeper team than just their top-six.
Top-Six Combine for Five of Six Bruins Goals
As well as the third line has been playing, the top-six scored five of the six goals, with captain Patrice Bergeron being the only one not to find the back of the net. Taylor Hall scored on the power play in the first period, before David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Erik Haula, and Jake DeBrusk each scored in a four-goal second period.
Bergeron returned to the lineup after missing the last four games following surgery on his elbow for an infection and finished with an assist in his 1,200th career game. He won 11of his 19 faceoffs and led his line with Marchand and DeBrusk with four shots on the net. The Bruins’ power play has struggled mightily as of late, but looked a lot better with Bergeron back in the bumper position. Even though they did not score on their first chance, before Hall scored on the second opportunity, they kept the puck in the zone for nearly the entire two minutes and had several shots on Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov. It was the first power play since Bergeron left the lineup that was effective in their last four games.
Ullmark Makes Timely Saves
When a team wins a game 6-3, there are not many times you can say that a goalie makes some timely saves, but that was the case for Linus Ullmark Saturday. Playing for the first time in eight days since his 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on March 18, the 28-year-old made 24 saves.
Ullmark made 12 of his 24 saves in the first period, where he allowed his team to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission. He made several reactionary saves with his pads and got help from his defense in clearing the pucks. In the second period and with the Bruins clinging to a 4-2 lead, Kyle Palmieri was alone in front of the Bruins net and redirected a pass that was going inside the left post, but Ullmark made a key pad save to preserve the two-goal lead. Despite needing to make 12 saves over the final two periods, Ullmark made some timely ones.
Bruins Get Big Break in the First Period
Holding a 1-0 in the first period, the Bruins caught a break when it appeared the Islanders had tied the game with 8:14 left in the period. Palmieri redirected a shot from the point and the puck skipped past Ullmark. It was called a goal on the ice, but after reviewing the goal with the situation room in Toronto, the goal was taken off the board.
How big of a call was that? Hall scored on the power play late in the opening period for a 2-0 lead, before Brock Nelson scored with 12 seconds to cut the deficit to 2-1, 23 seconds later. It’s no guarantee that the outcome would have been different, but it was a big call in the game at the time and took some momentum away from New York.
After beating the Lightning, 3-2, Thursday night, the Bruins have won the first two games of their five-game homestand. Things will get tougher on Tuesday night when the Maple Leafs make their only regular-season trip to the TD Garden, before the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets close out the homestand. If the Bruins can continue to get scoring depth, they will continue to pick up key points in the Atlantic Division.
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.