GOLD STAR: They weren’t rewarded until late in the game with actual points, but Tim Schaller and his fourth line cohorts were dominant throughout the game. They consistently pounded the offensive zone with long puck possession shifts and continued wearing down the New York Islanders defense before it finally broke in the third period. Schaller finally got on the board through a nice play by Sean Kuraly that his linemate popped in on the rebound. He finished with a goal and two points, and a plus-2 in 11:54 of ice time along with four shots on net. While it’s clear that the Bruins third line has been really productive over the last few weeks, the fourth line has also been serving notice that they’re going to be an impact energy group as well. Tuesday night might have been the fourth line’s best night of the season, and it was easily one of Schaller’s best games of the year.
BLACK EYE: John Tavares had a forgettable night as he was dominated by just about every line the Bruins threw at them. The Isles franchise cornerstone finished with minus-3 and just one shot on net in 19 minutes of ice time, and also lost 8-of-14 face-offs while getting worked by Boston’s down-the-middle crew. It was Tavares that was beaten cleanly by Riley Nash for a goal in the first period off the draw. Perhaps that threw Tavares off for the rest of the night, it was certainly a poor game on his part.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins worked to get a 2-1 lead entering the third period, and they truly dominated the middle 20 minutes by outshooting the Isles by a 17-4 margin despite getting just a single goal of separation. So the Bruins could have buckled holding a small lead, and almost did at the end of the second period when Mat Barzal went end-to-end through the Bruins defense in a play that ended with Nick Leddy jacking a ripped point shot off the post. After escaping that segment, the Bruins came out and scored three unanswered goals in the third period to take home an eventual 5-1 win over the Islanders. The Bruins have shown an ability to finish strong and they did it once again against the Islanders after physically grinding them through the opening 40 minutes.
HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron only needed to play 14:22 of ice time, but he made it count while snapping home the game-winner in the second period when it was still a tightly-contested game. Bergeron batted a puck out of mid-air at the Islanders net, guided it toward his stick and then fired a puck at the skates of Jaroslav Halak in an incredibly heady play. In all Bergeron finished with a goal, a plus-1 rating, two shots on net, two hits and 12-of-17 face-off wins in a game where he got to rest a bit in the third period. But No. 37 was right where he needed to be during the money portion of the game before they run away with it late.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – The Bruins line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were finally on ice for their first 5-on-5 goal against this season when Brandon Carlo fell down with the puck right in front of the B’s net after a Bergeron D-zone face-off win. They deserved a better fate, but it doesn’t take away any of the dominant even-strength play they’ve had this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “[The Bruins] are a good offensive team and they don’t give up a whole lot. But it’s not good enough for our group starting with myself. We need to set the tone the right way and start playing to expectations.” –John Tavares, who paid the Bruins plenty of complements while taking responsibility for an Islanders team that didn’t play well.
GOLD STAR: Alex Chiasson really didn’t get going until about midway through the game, but he made a huge impact once he began making plays in the third period. It's worth mentioning he is a former Boston University Terrier so he made himself comfortable in TD Garden. He gave the Capitals a two-goal cushion in the third period when he followed his own shot and outmuscled Brandon Carlo for a bid right in front of the Bruins net. Then four minutes later, Chiasson blocked a Torey Krug shot on the penalty kill and raced down to finish off a breakaway for the game-winning goal. The former Terrier finished with two goals, a plus-2 rating, three shots on net, five takeaways and a couple of blocked shots in just 12:46 of ice time. Just add Chiasson to the long list of skilled big bodies for the Caps that have done damage to the B’s over the years.
BLACK EYE: Anders Bjork is going through a very quiet patch offensively since coming back from injury, and was benched for stretches of the game while totaling a team-low 6:47 of ice time for the Bruins. Bjork finished with a minus-1 rating and zero shots on net, and now has one point and just two shots on goal in six games since coming back from a concussion. It will be interesting to see what the Bruins do with Bjork, who may be a prime candidate to watch a game up in the press box with Ryan Spooner pushing to get back into the B’s lineup. Either way it looks like Bjork is going through one of those rookie valleys right now. Perhaps he simply needs more time to recover from his concussion.
TURNING POINT: The turning point came in the third period when the Capitals scored three goals on six shots and pulled away from the Bruins. The Black and Gold had been closely trailing the Caps until that point in the game. Washington was outshot 37-21 by Boston, but they proved to have more quality chances, scoring five goals despite a lower quantity of shots. The Bruins are now 1-9-1 when trailing after two periods, and can’t pull the same kind of comeback magic against a stronger team like the Capitals. It’s too bad because the Bruins had their chances in the game, but just couldn't get over the hump.
HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron was the best Bruins player, burying a couple of goals, finishing with nine shot attempts, a few hits, a blocked shot and 15-of-20 face-off wins. Patrice got both of his goals on the power play, but he also finished with a minus-2 rating. If Bergeron is a minus player, it doesn't bode well for this team. But he also deserves some credit for emptying the tank on a night when the Bruins got back in from Detroit at 3 a.m. and play one of the best teams in the conference on a back-to-back.
BY THE NUMBERS: 11 – the consecutive number of losses for the Bruins against the Washington Capitals in a woeful stretch of hockey that dates back to March of 2014.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We shot a lot of pucks and it just didn't go our way. When the black cat cross your road, it's just a black cat crossing the road." –Anton Khudobin on the loss to the Capitals, where I think he’s referring to the B’s hitting three posts.
GOLD STAR: Mitch Marner finished with a goal and two points, a plus-2 and 10 shot attempts in 13:57 of ice time, and helped the Leafs get out to a fast lead with both teams looking to get off to a quick start. It was Marner that picked off an errant Brandon Carlo outlet pass, and immediately snapped a shot over the shoulder of Tuukka Rask to give Toronto a quick lead. Marner was again part of the combination that pushed the third goal past Rask in the third period as well, and that score essentially iced the game for Toronto. Marner has struggled for Toronto for large portions of the still-young season, but his game got healthy pretty quickly against the Bruins.
BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo called himself the “Achilles Heel” after the game was over, and while it might have been a bit overly harsh, it certainly wasn’t wrong. Carlo blew the outlet pass up the middle on a gift-wrapped turnover that Mitch Marner turned into Toronto’s first goal, and it was his hooking call that almost immediately led to Toronto’s power play strike. To top it all off, Carlo screened Tuukka Rask on Toronto’s third goal before unintentionally redirecting the puck past the Bruins goaltender on a truly bad luck play. Carlo finished with a minus-2 rating in 15:17 of ice time, and should just be focused on bouncing back from a rough couple of nights against Toronto as quickly as possible.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins outshot the Maple Leafs by a 13-11 margin in the second period and were only down by a 2-1 score at that point, but they couldn’t get anything past Toronto backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney during the barrage. The best chance was a Patrice Bergeron lead pass to Brad Marchand in front of the net, but McElhinney was able to stuff Marchand’s backhanded bid and get the puck out of danger. Once the Maple Leafs managed to survive Boston’s big push in the second period, they snapped back with a third insurance goal that sealed any chances the Bruins had of getting back into the game.
HONORABLE MENTION: Frank Vatrano was one of the few bright spots for the Bruins. He scored the team’s only goal in the first period, he threw three hits including a big one on Toronto D-man Nikita Zaitsev against the side boards and he even blocked a couple of shots while playing the 200-foot game for the Black and Gold. Vatrano also drew an interference call on Tyler Bozak in the third period to set up a Bruins power play that they weren’t able to score on. It all started with Vatrano scoring the goal and his confidence growing from there in the first game where he appeared to be truly engaged this season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0-3-3 – the Bruins record against Eastern Conference teams this season after dropping both ends of the home-and-home against Toronto.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Around the net they were better than us. So, we’re frustrated, but not...we’re not discouraged. I mean, we’re playing hard, just you go through these lulls where you need to be a little bit better." –Bruce Cassidy, of a Bruins team that’s lost three in a row for the first time all season and lost six of their last eight games.