In a twist of fate, the New York Islanders played a strong second period after a recent stretch where the middle 20 minutes had been their kryptonite.
Travis Zajac had scored his first goal with the Islanders and pulled the team within a goal after being dominated by the Boston Bruins in the first period.
And the Islanders had a chance to tie up the score in the third on a 2-on-1 with the first line. Instead, it was Boston, Taylor Hall specifically, which took advantage and scored on the other end and eventually skated to a 4-1 win at TD Garden.
“That top line got us going in the second,” Barry Trotz said. “They had some chances, they had a chance to tie it up. We had a 2-on-1, we had a good look. We score there, who knows maybe it’s a different story. But I didn’t think we deserved to win this hockey game.”
That aforementioned golden opportunity came less than two minutes into the second period. Jordan Eberle was sprung into the neutral zone with Mathew Barzal with only one Boston defenseman back. With Eberle skating down the left wing and Barzal charging down the slot, Eberle flipped a pass in front of the crease right on Barzal’s tape. Barzal, who had a nifty assist on Zajac’s goal was gearing for his second point of the night.
But Barzal tapped his shot attempt wide of Tuukka Rask and the cage. The puck remained in the Islanders’ offensive zone for a few more seconds and Barzal eventually tried to feed Ryan Pulock near the blue line. But Pulock fumbled the pass right to David Pastrnak.
Using an outlet pass, Pastrnak fed Taylor Hall, who skated down the ice on a breakaway. Semyon Varlamov came out aggressively but it was now match for Hall, who potted his first goal in a Boston uniform. The newly acquired forward now has three goals this season, two of of which have come against the Islanders.
“Once they got the third goal, I thought our level of play just fell right off,” Trotz said. “Boston just stayed with it.”
Taylor Hall scores his first goal as a Boston Bruin.
3-1 game. pic.twitter.com/cV6X20aZAl
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) April 16, 2021
Indeed, Boston controlled the third period and had over 60 percent of the total shot attempts in the final stretch of the game. More than that, they kept the Islanders off the board and then added one more on Brad Marchand’s empty-netter in the closing minutes.
Despite the Islanders’ overtime heroics over the Rangers in their last outing, they’ve now lost two of three games. It was their first loss against Boston in the teams’ sixth matchup of the season.
“I don’t think we were executing as well as we need to, as hard as we need to be in some areas,” Zajac added after the loss.
The Islanders will get a chance to execute better against Boston in a rematch on Friday night.