A thorough shutout victory Monday provided more evidence of why the Boston Bruins are the overwhelming favorites to open the playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference and win the President’s Trophy, awarded to the team with the most regular-season points in the NHL.
For the New York Islanders, a loss Monday night after holding a three-goal lead served to further complicate their path to one of the wild-card spots in the East.
The Bruins will look to maintain their season-long surge and deliver another dent to the Islanders’ playoff hopes Wednesday night, when Boston is slated to make its only regular-season visit to Elmont, N.Y.
Both teams were off Tuesday after playing at home Monday, when David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha scored twice apiece for the Bruins in a 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers and the Islanders frittered away their three-goal second-period lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals.
Boston’s win continued an impressively complete season. The Bruins’ 72 points are 10 more than the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes entering Wednesday.
The victory Monday marked the 15th time this season the Bruins have collected at least five goals in a game, tied with the Buffalo Sabres for the most in the NHL, while the shutout was their third, which is tied for fourth-most.
Boston has scored the most goals (164) and allowed the fewest (91) in the league. The most recent team to finish a season with the most goals scored and fewest goals allowed is the 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks, who fell in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Bruins.
“I’m just glad the way the team is playing — it speaks for itself,” said center David Krejci, a career-long member of the Bruins and a member of the 2011 champions who had three assists in the 1,000th game of his career. “I feel this could be a special year. We know what we have in this room. We don’t take it for granted.”
A three-goal lead is usually enough to assume a victory for the defense-oriented Islanders, who entered Tuesday tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 10th-fewest goals allowed in the NHL. New York has ranked no lower than 10th in terms of fewest goals allowed since the 2017-18 season.
But the Islanders’ hopes of earning a win in the opening game of a pivotal stretch against contenders evaporated as the Capitals scored four unanswered goals over the final 34-plus minutes Monday. Garnet Hathaway’s goal with 9:59 left in the second began the game-ending sequence, in which Washington outshot New York 25-15.
The loss marked the first time the Islanders squandered a three-goal lead since Jan. 28, 2021 — when they fell to the Capitals, 6-3 — and dropped them into a tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second and final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
Both teams have 50 points, but Pittsburgh has two games in hand on New York.
“Anytime you get a three-goal lead, you’ve got to find a way to close that out and get both points,” Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t.”
–Field Level Media