Bruins sink Islanders, 6-3
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Six different Boston Bruins players scored Monday night, when the Bruins broke open a close game with three unanswered goals over a nine-minute span bridging the second and third periods on their way to a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
Left winger Loui Eriksson scored in the first period for Boston, center Brad Marchand, right winger Reilly Smith and center Carl Soderberg scored in the second and center Patrice Bergeron and defenseman Zdeno Chara scored in the third.
With their third straight win, the Bruins (33-15-3) broke a tie with Tampa Bay atop the Atlantic Division and avoided being swept by the Islanders in the season series for just the second time ever. New York went 4-0-0 against Boston in 2005-06.
Goaltender Chad Johnson made 34 saves for the Bruins.
Center Frans Nielsen and right wingers Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo scored for the Islanders, who tied the game three times but could not take the lead. The Islanders (21-26-8) have lost three in a row and fell seven points out of a playoff spot by virtue of Carolina’s win over Columbus.
Goaltender Kevin Poulin made 30 saves for the Islanders before he was pulled for Evgeni Nabokov, who was activated from the injured list earlier Monday. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky also returned to the Islanders Monday night after missing 46 games with a concussion suffered Oct. 19.
The Bruins dominated the opening minutes of the first period and took the lead when Eriksson, stationed to the right of the net, took a pass from left winger Daniel Paille and fired a shot past Poulin that bounced off the upper left corner of the net and into the net.
The Bruins outshot the Islanders 18-2 before defenseman Johnny Boychuck was whistled for interference 12:10 into the period. The subsequent power play woke up the Islanders, who got the final 10 shots of the period and tied the game with 4:31 left, when Nielsen intercepted the puck deep in the Bruins’ zone and put back a rebound of his own shot seconds later.
The Islanders had five of the first six shots of the second, but the Bruins made their second shot count when Marchand fielded a pass from center Patrice Bergeron, caught Poulin leaning the other way and beat him in the left corner of the net for a goal 4:50 into the period.
A hustle play by Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey led to the Islanders’ tying goal less than four minutes later. During a scrum in the Bruins’ zone, Hickey made a diving pass to Okposo, who fed Grabner from behind the net for the goal.
The Bruins needed just 4:01 to re-take the lead when Smith got wide open behind Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner and fired a point-blank shot past Poulin.
Grabner finally had some good fortune on a breakaway when the Islanders tied it again with 4:52 remaining. After Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton failed to grab a loose puck out of the air, Grabner picked it up at center ice and raced in toward Johnson.
But Grabner, who has been stymied numerous times this season on breakaways — including by Johnson in the first period — waited for Okposo to catch up and exchanged two passes with him before Okposo tucked the puck into the right corner.
Soderberg capped the wild back-and-forth period with 32.7 seconds left, when he took a clearing pass from left winger Milan Lucic in stride, sprinted past Hickey and maneuvered the puck past Poulin with one hand.
The Bruins extended the lead to 5-3 following a frantic flurry behind the Islanders’ net 2:17 into the third. Islanders left winger Matt Martin almost poked the puck into the Islanders’ net shortly before Marchand stole the puck from defenseman Brian Strait. Marchand passed to Bergeron, who took a shot as he was falling to the ice from a hit delivered by Visnovsky. Martin’s attempt to block the shot failed as the puck sailed past Poulin.
Chara, who began his career with the Islanders in 1997 and spent four years with the team, notched his 500th career point a little less than six minutes later, when he fired a shot from the blue line past Poulin. That goal chased Poulin, who was replaced by Nabokov.
Notes: To make room for Visnovsky and Nabokov on the active roster, the Islanders sent defenseman Matt Donovan and goalie Anders Nilsson to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. ... The Islanders scratched left wing Eric Boulton, defenseman Travis Hamonic and defenseman Radek Martinek. Hamonic, who has missed the last eight games with concussion symptoms, skated Monday morning. ... The Bruins scratched center Ryan Spooner, defenseman Adam McQuaid and defenseman Zach Trotman. McQuaid has missed the last three games with a leg injury. ... Center Chris Kelly, who has been out since suffering a broken ankle Dec. 7, is expected to return to the Bruins when they host Florida tonight. ... Goalie Chad Johnson has made eight of his 12 starts on the road this season for the Bruins, including six of his last seven.