Bruins

Game 2 takeaways: Costly penalties, Lauzon's mistake doom B's

Bruins

BOSTON -- The Bruins showed impressive fight to mount a third-period comeback and force overtime in Game 2 against the New York Islanders on Monday night, but a costly mistake by B's defenseman Jeremy Lauzon in the extra period resulted in this second-round series being even at one win apiece.

The Bruins had a couple unlucky bounces end up in their net, but a lack of puck luck wasn't the only factor in their 4-3 loss at TD Garden.

The Islanders gave a much better performance than they did in Game 1, while winning the special teams battle and capitalizing on their best scoring chances. New York is now 2-1 after a loss in the playoffs so far and also improved its record in overtime games to 3-0.

Here are three takeaways from Game 2. 

1) Jeremy Lauzon's struggles continue

Lauzon struggled defensively in Game 1 of the Bruins' first-round matchup against the Washington Capitals and missed the final four games of the series with an injury.

He returned to the blue line for Round 2 and has not fared much better versus the Islanders. Lauzon's mistake at the blue line in overtime proved costly for the B's. He tried to make a D-to-D pass across the ice but the puck hit Charlie Coyle's skate. The result was a fortunate bounce for Casey Cizikas, who skated in on a breakaway and beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to win the game.

 

Cassidy called Lauzon's play "ill-advised" in a Zoom call with reporters after the game.

The smarter play in that situation would've been to whip the puck around the boards and into the corner. Making a pass across the ice in that situation is often a tough play.

Lauzon has been on the ice for seven goals against (five during 5-on-5 action) in the playoffs, which is the most of any B's defenseman even though he's played in just three games and received the second-fewest minutes (58:57) of any Boston blueliner.

Despite those ugly numbers, Lauzon remains the best defenseman for that spot on the third pairing. Throwing a young and inexperienced player like Urho Vaakanainen or a less-talented veteran such as Jarred Tinordi into the lineup wouldn't make much sense. Lauzon has the ability to excel in a shutdown role, but he's way too inconsistent. The Bruins need a more stable game from him Thursday night.

2) Lack of discipline hurts Bruins

The Bruins once again controlled play at 5-on-5, tallying more shot attempts, shots on net and scoring chances than the Islanders in Game 2. Where they've struggled in this series is staying out of the penalty box and then neutralizing the ensuing Islanders power play.

New York has three power-play goals on six opportunities over two games. Both of the Islanders' power-play goals in the second period Monday night came after avoidable penalties taken by the Bruins. David Pastrnak wasn't able to skate around Semyon Varlamov and was whistled for goaltender interference. Brandon Carlo got tangled up with Leo Komarov and was penalized for cross checking.

The call on Carlo was pretty soft -- B's head coach Bruce Cassidy called it "questionable" after the game -- but the B's still have to be smarter and more disciplined than they were throughout the night.

The Bruins' penalty kill was a huge strength for them during the first-round series against the Capitals with a 17-for-20 success rate over five games. It's been a weakness in Round 2 and one of the primary reasons why the series is now tied.

3) B's killers strike again

Two players who've enjoyed plenty of success against the Bruins throughout the season are Islanders forwards Kyle Palmieri and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and they both made the B's pay Monday night.

Palmieri got just enough on a puck that bounced off the end boards in the second period to give New York its first lead of the night at 2-1. 

It was Palmieri's sixth goal against the Bruins in 2021. The previous five were scored as a member of the Devils before he was traded to the Islanders. All six of those tallies have come at TD Garden. Palmieri also tallied an assist on Josh Bailey's power-play goal in the second period, giving him eight points in 10 games against the B's including the playoffs.

Pageau tallied eight points (five goals, three assists) in eight regular season matchups versus the Bruins, and he scored on a second period power-play goal that put the Islanders up 3-1. The veteran center also assisted on Palmieri's goal.

 

The Bruins have had trouble defending Palmieri and Pageau all season, and if they don't make any adjustments against the Islanders' third line entering Game 3, we could easily see more offensive production from this group when the series shifts to New York. Palmieri and Pageau play with all kinds of confidence against this Bruins team.