B’s smoke Islanders behind Sean Kuraly’s two goals

UNIONDALE, N.Y.–The New York Islanders have shocked the hockey world this season by taking the loss of John Tavares on the chin and stunningly climbing to the top of the Metropolitan Division.

But on Tuesday night at the Nassau Coliseum, the Bruins treated the Islanders like the team everyone thought they were going to be.

In one of their most complete games of the season, the B’s smothered the Islanders from the drop of the puck to the final horn, hanging a 5-0 beat-down on the Isles. The B’s were led by Sean Kuraly’s two goal (7, 8) plus single strikes from Noel Acciari (4), Patrice Bergeron (28) and Jake DeBrusk (23), with members from all four lines scoring.

Coach Bruce Cassidy agreed it might have been the most dominant game his team has played in his two-plus years behind the bench.

“Yeah, probably, in terms of possession and the worry-meter for the coach,” said Cassidy. “Usually you see what’s happening before maybe the bad comes, but we never really got away from it. I think in the third, there were a couple of plays where we were a little soft through the neutral zone, but other than that it was for a shift or two and our guys right away said ‘Let’s get back to crisp, hard plays. It was good. You’re always concerned with if (the Islanders) just don’t have it tonight or was it just with great, great determination and decision-making. It’s probably a little bit of both, but I can only judge us and I love the way we played.”

Tuukka Rask recorded his fourth shutout of the season, but he very much shared that clean sheet with the 18 skaters in front of him. The B’s outshot the home team, 39-13. It was the lowest shots-against total of the year for them. Eight of those 13 shots were perimeter offerings from Islander defensemen.

“We played good from start to finish,” said Rask. “You strip everything away from the other team, don’t give them time and space, and that was the result. Very impressive.”

The B’s took the lead just 1:12 into the game on Kuraly’s first goal. Charlie McAvoy pinched down to keep a puck alive and Kuraly fired a shot from the right dot that goalie Robin Lehner mishandled with his glove, the puck dropping into the net behind him.

That might have been the only thing that he B’s didn’t completely earn for themselves. They outshot the Isles 14-2 in the first period and the edge in play was so tilted in the Bruins’ favor that the Isles resorted to drastic measures to snap out of it. And Matt Martin drew the short straw.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Martin challenged 6-foot-9, 260-pound Zdeno Chara at the drop of the puck to start the second period. He didn’t go in to wrestle with the B’s captain but to throw shots, but it didn’t go well for the game enforcer. Chara knocked him down early with a right and the linesmen at first jumped in to stop it, but Martin got up quickly enough for them to let it go on. And Martin did appear to land one good shot, but it did not faze Chara, who continued to feed Martin a steady stream of rights before muscling him to the ice to end it, finishing it off with an appreciative slap on Martin’s back.

“I respect him,” said Chara. “He’s obviously been in the league for a long time. He’s tough as nails. He’s doing his job for his team. Obviously, a great job by him. He takes his job very seriously and he’s one of those guys that I respect very highly. It’s not an easy job. He’s putting his name out there and he’s doing whatever he can to help his team win. So good for him. He’s one of those guys who’s very tough, very respected, so I just wanted to give him that opportunity”

But it didn’t do anything for the Isles. A few minutes after the fight, Acciari converted a Cal Clutterbuck turnover into a goal and, before the period was out, Kuraly added his second. In the third, Bergeron put a stranglehold on the game with a wrister off the rush and, finally, DeBrusk roofed a pretty breakaway goal to put the last touches on the rout.

This time last week, the B’s were in the midst of a three-game losing streak, but suddenly things are looking pretty rosy with nine games left. They are starting to get back key injured players – David Pastrnak (thumb) returned after five weeks on the shelf – and, coupled with Toronto’s loss in Nashville on Tuesday, they stretched their lead over the Maple Leafs to six points in their battle for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

But the best sign of all was the product the B’s put on the ice on Tuesday.

Original Source
Author: Steve Conroy