There was little reason for hope as the New York Islanders visited the Boston Bruins Saturday and they wasted no time in reminding us why.
The Bruins are top of the league by a large margin, the Islanders are very much not, and they were visiting after an emotional comeback win against the Penguins the night before. Worse, Mathew Barzal left this game early in the first with an apparent knock to the side of the knee, and we can only hope it’s a short-term thing.
Also of trivial note: Brock Nelson’s 12-game points streak came to an end.
Ultimately, if you’re subscribing to the possibility that the Islanders can grab a wild card spot — and certainly the Penguins and Capitals are trying to match them loss for loss — then the really important games in this busy weekend are the two against the Penguins, one of which was the regulation win at home Friday night.
But losing-by-spanking in Boston while also losing Barzal was a double-punch to the gut.
[NHL Gamecenter | Game Summary | Event Summary | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]First Period: Here we go...
The game got off to a rough start that made its outcome pretty clear within the first few minutes.
Casey Cizikas took a hooking penalty on Charlie Coyle just 1:40 in, and the Bruins power play was lethal in its puck movement to set up Jake DeBrusk for the opening goal.
The mood was really set though just 6 minutes into the game, when Barzal took a low-speed hit that seemed to hurt his knee, and caused him to leave the game.
Hit on Barzal that sent him to the room pic.twitter.com/OCm6alSYmM— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) February 18, 2023
Nick Foligno made it 2-0 at the 9:15 mark, with the Bruins well on their way to a dominant period.
Trent Frederic affirmed that by deflecting a hard Charlie McAvoy point shot to make it 3-0 with just under three minutes left. Everything was proceeding according to plan, with an injury to an essential player to really twist the knife.Second Period: Mild pulse shown
Despite the inevitability of the eventual outcome, the Islanders got a little bit of life back early in the second period. But that was undone by the Bruins scoring three goals on their only five shots of the period.
Kyle Palmieri got them on the board to make it 3-1, on a nice rush to the crease and great pass to lead him there by Anders Lee. That came soon after Palmieri, who’s missed lots of time this season with hits to the head, took another high hit. He seemed to be okay though, and hopefully that continues to be the case.
Do your thing, 21, do your thing. pic.twitter.com/5ZJfaaFsJa— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 18, 2023
Whatever boost Palmieri’s goal provided was short-lived. The defense coughed it up with some casual play behind the Isles net, and Varlamov made two close-in saves, only to have a rebound off the back glass land right on the doorstep for Patrice Bergeron.
The Islanders responded with a bit of a push, included some sustained pressure and smart puck movement at 4-on-4 after noted weasel Brad Marchand spoiled a Bruins power play by butt-ending Adam Pelech in the face on the ensuing faceoff.
But Palmieri missed the net on a clear breakaway, and the Bruins got the next goal soon afterward, a shot from distance by Frederic. That made it 5-1, misery secured just over halfway through the period.
Pavel Zacha made it 6-1 with 89 seconds left in the period on a chaotic scramble.Third Period
That set up a sleepy formality of a third period. Brock Nelson broke a lot of sticks on faceoffs but could not get a point. Matt Martin got a goal late, after some nice havoc created by Ross Johnston, to make it 6-2.
As mentioned, this road trip continues Monday night in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins appeared on their way to a loss to the Devils when this early game concluded.
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