The Boston Bruins went to overtime for the fifth time in just eight games this postseason, and managed to come out victorious, with a final score of 2-1. Brad Marchand sniped in a tough angle shot to win the game for Boston in overtime, while Craig Smith added the Bruins other goal in the first period to lead the Bruins to victory. Boston now has a 2-1 lead on the series, and can really look to take control of the series if they can snatch a victory in Game 4.
The first period was a tale of two halves. The B’s came out and generally controlled the proceedings, and did a good job keeping the puck out of their zone and in the Islanders. The pressure paid off when Craig Smith marked his return to lineup with a beautiful finish off an equally beautiful pass from Taylor Hall. The Isles responded by upping the pressure, and typically controlled the rest of the period after Smith’s opener. The Islanders forecheck made it tough for Boston to get the puck out of their zone, and that’s usually when they get most of their chances. Mike Reilly would hit the crossbar for the Bruins later on, but the score was set at 1-0 heading into the second period.
The second period was basically the opposite of the first. The Isles came out and kept the momentum they grabbed at the end of the first period, and forced Tuukka Rask into some tough saves. It felt like things had come to a head when David Pastrnak was sent to the box for a slashing penalty. But the Bruins made the kill, and then tilted the ice in their favor for the rest of the period. There were some great chances for the B’s, with Krejci getting denied on a beautiful chance from the left side of the ice, and Nick Ritchie missing a point blank shot right in front of Semyon Varlamov. Either way, the Bruins grabbed the momentum back with a good close out to the second period, and maintained a one goal lead heading into the third period.
Things didn’t go the Bruins way in the third period, despite them controlling play for most of the time. They unloaded on Varlamov for most of the period, but just couldn’t break through. They would go to the power play twice as well making matters even worse, but the Islanders survived. That proved to be costly, as the Islanders would tie the game up shortly after their second penalty kill, with Mathew Barzal just finding enough room to push a wrap around shot past Rask’s skate. The B’s looked like they were going to be able to make a final push, but Sean Kuraly got sent to the box putting the B’s on the kill for what amounted to the last 2:15 of the game. Fortunately, the Bruins made the kill, and were able to force overtime in the process.
The overtime period didn’t start out too hot for the Bruins, as the Islanders dominated possession, but Rask bailed the team out with some really good saves. The B’s finally broke out of their own zone through Charlie McAvoy, who skated it all the way into the Isles zone, before dumping it off to Brad Marchand. Marchand skated down to the bottom of left circle, before unleashing a tough angle snipe that hit the top right corner of the pipe and bounced down, giving the Bruins the win just 3:36 into overtime.
Simply put, this is a huge win for the Boston Bruins. They started off slow in this one, but as the game rolled on, they picked up steam, but were stifled by Varlamov for the most part. The Islanders goal certainly wasn’t a great look for Rask and the Bruins defense, and it seemed like they weren’t even going to be able to force overtime for the last five minutes of the third period. Even beginning overtime, the team struggled to get much going, but they stuck with it, and ultimately their persistence paid off, and they got a victory as a result.
Whereas the Perfection Line has dominated for most of the postseason for Boston, it was the second line that stepped up tonight. Craig Smith’s return from a one game absence clearly had a big effect on that line, and it was never more evident than on his goal. Taylor Hall was a bundle of energy on both sides of the ice, and Krejci was the conductor of everything. Eventually the top line took over towards the end of the game, but the second line stepped up in a big way over the first two periods tonight.
Unfortunately, it seems like Bruins defense took another hit tonight, as Brandon Carlo was forced out of action after taking a big hit into the boards. For those who missed it, Carlo didn’t look to good after the hit, and needed assistance getting off the ice. Carlo has had his struggles with concussions this season, and it would be a big blow if Carlo was forced to miss time this series, especially with Kevan Miller already out as well. Hopefully there’s some good news with Carlo, but the Bruins should expect to be shorthanded on defense when Game 4 rolls around on Saturday night.