Islanders aim for better showing in Bruins rematch

NHL Hockey

The New York Islanders had three days off before Thursday’s series opener against the Boston Bruins. They won’t have to wait nearly as long to try to bounce back from one of the most discouraging efforts of the season.

The Islanders will look to mount a quick recovery Friday night when they visit the Bruins in the finale of the two-game series.

Brad Marchand scored the first of his two goals 1:49 into the first period Thursday night for the host Bruins, who never trailed in a 4-1 win.

The Bruins had 23 shots in the first period, the most the Islanders have allowed in a single period this season, and finished with 45 shots — eight more than New York had allowed in any game this season.

“It was unacceptable — we came out slow, Boston’s desperate, they know it’s a big game, they’re focused on us and they came out and set the tone and we’ve got some guys that didn’t want to accept the challenge,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said.

The Islanders, who are two points behind the first-place Washington Capitals in the East Division, lost by more than two goals for just the sixth time this season.

“I didn’t think we deserved to win this hockey game and obviously we didn’t,” Trotz said.

The win was the most lopsided in almost a month for the Bruins, who hadn’t won by more than two goals since beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on March 18. The 45 shots were the most for Boston in a game decided in regulation since it posted 51 shots in a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 14, 2018.

“A good, solid game,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I thought we didn’t let our foot off the gas. We really had no passengers tonight. That’s always what you’re looking for, everyone kind of helping the team win.”

The Bruins got a glimpse at the template they hope to employ in the race for the East’s final playoff spot. With the victory, Boston remained four points ahead of the fifth-place New York Rangers, who beat the New Jersey Devils, 4-0, on Thursday night.

Goalie Tuukka Rask returned from an upper-body injury that’s limited him to two games since March 7 and recorded 22 saves for his 300th career win. With Rask and Jaroslav Halak (COVID-19) each sidelined, the Bruins’ previous six games were started by rookie goalies Daniel Vladar and Jeremy Swayman.

Taylor Hall snapped a 17-game goal scoring drought by putting the Bruins up 3-1 in the third period with his first goal for the club. He was acquired from the Sabres on Monday in hopes he could bolster an offense that entered Thursday with the fewest goals of any team occupying a playoff spot.

“I suspect we’ll see more of what we saw tonight from Taylor in the offensive zone,” Cassidy said. “This year he didn’t put up the numbers he wanted (with Buffalo). But that’s behind and he’s got a fresh start.”

–Field Level Media

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