The Boston Bruins swept the New York Islanders out of Boston, winning on back-to-back nights at the T.D. Garden. The B’s took game one by a final score of 4-1 and won last night 3-0. Thursday night marked the first time the Bruins have beaten the Islanders this season. The team finally seemed to come together for the first time in what feels like a really long time and were able to outplay a physical Islanders team that has a stingy defense. The Bruins also had Tuukka Rask back in net Thursday night, his first game since exiting after the first period on March 25th. The win marked the 300th victory of Rask’s career.
The Bruins came out firing on Thursday night, putting up a season high 23 shots in the first period. They had pressure coming from all four lines, and all of the new guys seemed to be meshing well with their lines. The first goal of the night came less than two minutes in when Mike Reilly sent a shot from the point that was double deflected by both Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. It was Mike Reilly’s first point as a Bruin and it was an important goal as the Bruins jumped out to an early lead against a team that they have had trouble scoring against. The next goal came at the back end of the period, scored by Craig Smith who has been on a tear lately. The goal was his 10th of the season and his 4th in 5 games. After a stellar first period, the Bruins came back with a decent second period, but the Isles were able to get on the board with a goal from Travis Zajac. Heading into the third with a 2-1 lead, the Bruins were in position to finally defeat the Islanders. Closing out games is something the Bruins have had trouble with at times this year, but after Taylor Hall scored his first goal as a Bruin less than two minutes into the period, the Bruins were able to take all momentum away from the Islanders. Brad Marchand would add on an empty netter to complete Tuukka Rask’s 300th career victory.
Taylor Hall, who didn’t look amazing in his first game in Boston against Buffalo, put some things together on Thursday and scored a power forward style goal. He protected the puck well and took advantage of Semyon Varlamov coming out of his net by sliding the puck right through his five hole. Although Hall still looked weak on the puck at times, he clearly showed his skill and potential to do damage as a Bruin. He also seems to have solid chemistry with David Krejci on the second line, and if they can be a real factor with Craig Smith on the opposite wing, the Bruins may have finally solved the issue of having an inconsistent second line.
Friday night, the Bruins played just as complete a game as they did Thursday. They had a little more trouble scoring in the first than they did on Thursday, but were still able to take a 1-0 lead into the second after David Pastrnak scored with just 2 seconds remaining on the clock in the period. Taylor Hall would then score his second goal in as many games less than a minute into the second. Although the game was never in complete control for the Bruins, they never let the Islanders get back into the game after going up 2-0, largely thanks to terrific play in net from Jeremy Swayman. Curtis Lazar would score his first goal as a Bruin on an empty net, and the Bruins would win by a score of 3-0.
The Bruins played their best games of the season on Thursday and Friday, and it was the first time where there wasn’t a part of the team that showed any serious signs of weakness. For the first time since last season, the Bruins looked truly dominant in all aspects of the game for two full games. All three newcomers seem to have improved the team, or at least sparked something that has been missing for a while. Starting with Taylor Hall, he matched his season goal total in just 2 games. He seems as if he could be the answer to the second line wing issue that the team has struggled with for years.
Curtis Lazar seems to have sparked something in the fourth line that we haven’t seen since Noel Acciari left. Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly have largely been non-factors all year, but with Lazar bringing some energy to the center position, the line looked dominant when they were on the ice against New York. Strong fourth lines have been a staple in winning Bruins teams, so if Lazar, Wagner, and Kuraly can keep up the good play, they could be a huge factor in the Bruins being successful moving forward.
Mike Reilly has shown his playmaking ability in his first few games in Boston, at times looking almost like Torey Krug. That’s not to say that he’s as good as Krug, but if he can provide the team with strong offensive defenseman play, he can be a very valuable part of the team.
With four full lines and a defense that will hopefully be back to full health soon, the Bruins have the potential to go on a run to finish off the season. Although two good games don’t warrant saying the Bruins are Stanley Cup contenders, they have clearly taken a step in the right direction in the past week. They will look to continue their strong play and extend their winning streak to four games against the Washington Capitals tomorrow.
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