The Boston Bruins used a three goal third period to pull away against the New York Islanders tonight, giving them a 5-2 Game 1 victory to kick off their second round series. David Pastrnak led the way, picking up his second career playoff hat-trick, as the Bruins started off slow before taking off late in this one. It was another great performance from the Perfection Line, as they finished with six points on the night, and helped lead the team to victory.
The first period was pretty even for the most part, with the Islanders striking first off of their first power play of the series. The Bruins failed to clear the puck from their zone, and Anthony Beauvillier made them pay by deflecting a puck past Tuukka Rask. It seemed like the Bruins were going to be trailing heading into the second period, but David Pastrnak netted a power play goal of his own with only 24 seconds left in the period to tie the game back up.
Boston kept up their momentum heading into the second period, and vastly outshot the Islanders. Ilya Sorokin did a really good job of preventing Boston from scoring for the most part, but Pastrnak would eventually find the back of the net again after he picked up a rebound from Sorokin off a shot from Patrice Bergeron. The B’s first lead of the night was short lived, as Adam Pelech would fire an absolute rocket into the top right corner that Rask appeared to never see. It was tough to see the Bruins cough up a lead they worked really hard to get, but they continued to pound Sorokin with shots for the rest of the period, keeping the momentum on their side heading into the final frame.
The game flipped on it’s head in the third when the Islanders went on the power play after Boston had too many men on the ice, but not in the way you think it would have. The Bruins made the kill, and made a push out of their zone right as Nick Ritchie got out of the box. Charlie Coyle made a deep pass into New York’s zone, which Ritchie pinned and dropped back to David Krejci at the blue line. Krejci set up McAvoy for a blue line slapper, which he buried the bottom left corner of the net. Ritchie did a great job on this play, as he kept the puck in the zone, and set a nice screen on Sorokin to prevent him from ever getting a clean look at the puck.
The Islanders made a push back into the game, and the Bruins really struggled to get the puck out of their zone, and then keep it out when in the neutral zone. However, Pastrnak intercepted a pass in the middle of a New York line change, skated by the first defender into the Islanders zone, and then waited for Taylor Hall to fill his lane and screen Sorokin before netting his third goal of the game, which was the dagger tonight. Mathew Barzal would get a penalty for tripping Connor Clifton, preventing New York from making a final push in the game. Taylor Hall would score an empty netter to finish things off, as the Bruins would win by a final score of 5-2.
This is a great victory for Boston as they kick of their second round series. They struggled against the Isles for most of the season, which led some to think the now eliminated Pittsburgh Penguins would have been the better opponent to face in this round. But after coming out slow in this one, the Bruins seemed to figure things out about halfway through this one, before putting New York away in the opener of the series.
There are some concerns that need to be addressed after this one however. The Bruins did a good job of getting the puck out of their zone for the most part tonight, but when they didn’t, it came back to bite them. Both of New York’s goals came off of possessions that the Bruins failed to clear out of their zone. It nearly caused them to allow New York to tie the game again late in the third, with Pastrnak’s third goal saving the day. Figuring out how to continually get the puck out of the net, and then keeping possession of it in the neutral zone, is going to be a key fix to make as this series progresses.
Boston’s depth scoring has also vanished in their recent games. After showing up early against the Washington Capitals last series, they disappeared in the final games of that series, and only Taylor Hall netted an empty netter in this one tonight. Losing Craig Smith certainly disrupted some of the line shifts tonight, but it’s important for the secondary lines to keep stepping up. We’ve seen previous Bruins teams falter in the playoffs due to a lack of scoring depth, and this team needs to make sure that doesn’t happen again this season. The Perfection Line has done a great job of leading this team through the opening part of the playoffs, and will look to continue that in Game 2 of the series on Monday night.