The Bruins traveled to Long Island tonight for game 3 in their second round series against the Islanders. With the series even at a game apiece, tonight’s game was pivotal in claiming control of the series. It took extra hockey once again, but the Bruins get it done in OT to gain the upper hand in the series.
The only lineup change for either club from last game was Craig Smith back in on the David Krecji line with Karson Kuhlman back in civvies. In net it was Tuukka Rask vs. Semyan Varlamov and both goalies were dialed in from the opening face. This game had sparkling save after sparkling save on both ends of the ice and I would give both goalies one of the game’s 3 stars. But first, to the recap.
The Bruins made some adjustments to combat the Islanders fore-check and it seemed to pay off for them almost immediately. Instead of making quick passes to push the pace from the defensive end, the Bruins had a more East-West game where they worked the D-to-D passes to have a more deliberate breakout (shades of old friend Claude). It pinned them in their own zone a few times, but their sloppy puck management in the first didn’t help much either. Overall it was a good adjustment to neutralize one of the Islanders best tactics in the last game.
Craig Smith got the Bruins on the board in the first when he finished off a Taylor Hall feed to go high glove on Varlamov : 1-0 good guys. Hall’s play on this goal started 200 feet away when he broke up Barzal on the back check and fed the puck to Matt Grzelcyk coming out of the Bruins end. Grz carried the play into the NY zone and gave it over to Hall on the RW (who had caught up to the play). Hall gained the RW circle and pulled up dragging the puck back away from the NY defender before dishing to Smith in the high slot. Smith corralled the feed and took a stride to his right as Grzelcyk drove the net and then beat Varlamov over the glove with a wicked wrister.
Here’s Hallsy on the back check. Like I said when he got traded here: Just do what Bergy does.
In the 2nd the pace and physicality picked up as both teams began to work the puck out of their own ends with more speed. After being outshot in the first period, the Bruins had 11 of the last 13 shots on net in the period. The Islanders were waiting for a mistake, but the Bruins weren’t making any. Well, almost none. In the 1st, Brad Marchand took a dumb penalty in retaliation and in the 2nd, David Pastrnak did the same. After getting rubbed out on a clean hit by Pelech, Pasta gave him a 2-hander across the ankles going to the bench. Stupid selfish penalties by some of the leaders of this team; you just can’t do that, especially in a tight playoff game. Luckily, the Bruins’ best penalty killer was Rask as he shut the door again and again, keeping this a 1-goal game. Not to be outdone, Varlamov was nails at the other end.
See this absolute robbery on Krecji.
With about 13 minutes left to play in the game, Brandon Carlo had to take a Clutterbuck hit to move the puck in the Bruins’ end and his head bounced off the glass sending Carlo to the quiet room and out for the remainder of the game. Clutterbuck is a clean hard player and there was no intent on this play. On the NBC feed you could see Clutterbuck on the bench asking the trainer if he (I assume he meant Carlo) was ok. With Carlo’s concussion history, it was tough to see. As I type this, it’s being reported that Carlo told Bruce Cassidy he’s feeling fine but will be re-assessed tomorrow. The Bruins looked sloppy playing with 5 defenseman and the Islanders could clearly smell blood in the water as they poured it on in the final frame. After a big PK, the Islanders stepped it up another notch as the ice was tilted towards Rask’s net. Barzal finally got the game tied up when Conor Clifton circled the net the wrong way leaving the puck for Barzal on the wraparound and he stuffed it through Rask on his 3rd whack at it. Don’t know where Jeremy Lauzon was while Barzal was chopping away, but that’s a question for another day. The teams were tied heading to OT again.
NY continued it’s onslaught on the Boston end, and again, Rask was up to the task. With 2 minutes gone in OT, Nick Ritchie failed to clear the puck and Eberle unleashed a clapper on Rask from the slot. Rask fought off the puck with the rebound bouncing to Barzal who immediately threw it back at Rask. The speed that Barzal got that shot off was impressive, but Rask’s glove was faster and the game went on. Saw a great stat after the game: In the playoffs so far, Rask has allowed 13 goals. Of those 13 goals, 9 have hit something in front. He’s a friggin’ brick wall back there. Funny, I haven’t heard from many of the Rask-haters as of late.
Once again, coaching matters and the Bruins methodical breakout paid off as Patrice Bergeron (of course Bergy was there) deep in the Bruins’ zone reversed the puck around behind Rask to the waiting Charlie McAvoy. The Long Island native carried the puck up the left side of the ice and gained the NY zone where he handed the puck to Marchand as he curled back to the bench for a change. Marchy dropped down the LW wall to the low circle where he went far shelf to send the boys home with an OTW.
Next game is Saturday at the Coliseum, 10 wins to go.
- Mike Reilly’s ability to get pucks through traffic is unbelievable. He’s snakebitten on the scoresheet right now: but once he starts scoring, look out.
- Great to see Craig Smith back out there. He’s the engine that drives the top 6, what a beauty.
- Great job by the defense and Tuukka Rask (who was unbelievable in net tonight) to pick up Brandon Carlo’s minutes
- Sloppy puck management to open the game could have doomed the Bruins if not for Rask.
- Selfish penalties need to be a thing of the past. Marchand and Pastrnak have to play in control and not put their own petty nonsense in front of the team’s goals.
- That’s it, this was a huge win
- Bruce Cassidy is now currently second on the Bruins all time playoff wins for a head coach, passing Don Cherry (he’s only 24 wins behind Claude Julien for the top spot)
- Tonight was Brad Marchand’s second OT goal of the playoffs. Only 3 players in NHL history have more OT goals in one playoff season and they are all tied with 3 goals. Corey Perry (2017), Maurice Richard (1951) and Mel Hill (1939).
- Love to see Cassidy forcing Barry Trotz’ hand with matchups. Trotz likes to start his Clutterbuck line for every period and with the last change, he can manage the matchups. Cassidy rolls out the Bergeron line and forces Trotz to counter with Pageau’s line. Cassidy is calling the matchup in essence, great move by Butchie.
- And seriously, the Islanders have a Billy Joel banner? C’mon. I’ve heard this for years and finally saw it on the broadcast tonight. I honestly thought it was a joke. That’s just sad.