The Boston Bruins couldn’t put the New York Islanders season on life support tonight, and ended up losing Game 4 by a score of 4-1. After scoring the first goal of the game, the Islanders would score four unanswered goals to put the Bruins away, and send the series back to Boston all knotted up. The Bruins were shorthanded defensively tonight, and it looked like it took a toll on them late in this one. Despite the lopsided nature of the score, the game was pretty tightly contested for the most part, with New York scoring two empty netters in the final minute of action to finish the B’s off.
The Islanders came out and implemented a physical style of play in the first period. There were hits aplenty on both sides, but it turned what had been a pretty clean series into a chippy affair early on. It started with Taylor Hall and Scott Mayfield dropping the gloves, which happened to be Hall’s first fight since 2011. It didn’t stop there, as Jarred Tinordi and Matt Martin went at it less than two minutes later. The commotion arrived due to Mathew Barzal receiving a penalty for a high stick to Curtis Lazar, sending the Bruins to the power play. Nothing was doing on the power play though, as the Bruins spent most of the first period struggling to keep the puck in the Islanders zone. They finally figured things out at the end of the period, which led to an absolutely wide open net for David Pastrnak from the right circle that he somehow missed. The Bruins had picked up the momentum by the end of the period, but couldn’t find the back of the net, and the game was scoreless heading into halftime.
Thankfully the Bruins made up for that mistake by Pasta, as they quickly went on the power play, with David Krejci finally netting his first goal of the playoffs on a loose puck in front of the net. Barry Trotz would challenge the goal for goalie interference, but lost, sending the Bruins right back to the power play. They looked lifeless this time around, and the Islanders quickly took control of the period from here on out. Lazar was set to head to the box for a penalty against Barzal, but it didn’t matter because Barzal found Kyle Palmieri right in front of net to bury a goal and tie the game back up. The rest of the period was a struggle, as the Bruins failed to generate much pressure against New York, and promptly took two more penalties from David Krejci and Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy’s came right at the end of the third period, but with the Islanders not scoring yet, the B’s would begin the third period on the kill again.
The third period was pretty back and forth to start, with both teams getting numerous chances to take the lead. It was the Islanders who would take the lead off of a deflection that found it’s way into Barzal’s path, and he buried it in the back of the net before Rask could do anything about it. The Bruins still had seven minutes to make a comeback and force overtime, but they couldn’t establish any sort of zone time against the Islanders. New York dominated a period where Boston should have been looking to make a run, but they couldn’t even manage to get Tuukka Rask out of the net until there were 90 seconds left. Once Rask was out, New York quickly won the puck back, and Casey Cizikas would bury the dagger on an empty net right after. Jean-Gabriel Pageau would pot another empty netter for good measure, and New York would tie the series at two apiece with a 4-1 win.
This wasn’t a good look for the Bruins, as they looked gassed by the end of the game. They couldn’t make any sort of push to tie the game back up after Barzal gave the Isles the lead, as New York had fully taken control of the game. Sure they were short on defenders tonight, but the Islanders finished this game off because they simply wanted it more than the Bruins, who could barely get the puck out of their zone. With the puck stuck in their zone for the most part, they couldn’t get any shots on Varlamov, and New York coasted to a victory.
As a result, the B’s intensity seemed to be lacking for large parts of the game. They were able to match the Islanders intensity in the first period, but it didn’t translate over to the rest of the contest. The Islanders forechecking and backchecking intensity caught the Bruins off guard, and they controlled play for large parts of the game. The Bruins can’t allow themselves to get outworked if they want to come out victorious in this series.
The other big issue that popped up tonight was the play of the power play unit. The power play unit has been quite wasteful for most of this series. Sure their only goal came off the power play tonight, but their laziness on their last power play allowed the Islanders to regain momentum when the Bruins could have given them a nice sucker punch with back to back power play goals. Tightening up their power play units is going to be key moving forward, as Boston can’t keep wasting their man advantages for much longer.
Overall, the Bruins got outplayed tonight, but still had a pretty decent shot to come out with a win. They picked up a much needed win against the Islanders on their home ice in Game 3, and now Boston will have home ice for the remainder of this mini three game series. There are a lot of things they need to work on, and hopefully they will have some of their injured guys back, but the Bruins will need to come out firing to pick up a win in what is now a crucial Game 5 in this series.