The Boston Bruins (10-1-2, 22 pts) are back on Long Island for a second time this season and will try to avenge their only regulation loss of the season when they take on the New York Islanders (5-4-3, 13 pts) tonight (7:05 PM ET, NESN, MSG+).
The Islanders are the only team to beat the Boston Bruins in 60 minutes as they shut them out 1-0 back on Jan. 18 behind a late goal from Jean-Gabriel Pageau and a 26-save shutout from goalie Semyon Varlamov. This is a much different Bruins squad though than the one that left the Coliseum headed for home with a 1-1-1 record on their three-game road trip that started this 2021 season. The Bruins are riding a five-game win streak and ten-game point streak and are 9-0-1 since that loss to the Isles.
If the Bruins win tonight, that would be their sixth straight road win and would match the longest road winning streak (Feb. 17-26, 1972, Feb. 17-March 1, 2011), in franchise history. The Bruins are 6-1-2 away from TD Garden.
The Islanders struggled a bit after that win over the Boston Bruins but they do come into the game riding a five-game point streak, going 2-0-3 during that span.
Tuukka Rask (6-1-1, 2.31 GAA, .906 save percentage) will be back between the pipes for the Bruins tonight and Varlamov (5-2-2, 1.98 GAA, .924 save percentage) will maintain the nets for the Islanders.
– Don’t look now but Rask is molding into his usual Vezina Trophy form that made him a 2020 finalist for the trophy awarded to the best goalie in the NHL and saw him win the Vezina in 2014. The scary part is that Rask was already playing great even though his stats may have said otherwise. Rask was having slow starts to games but repeatedly coming up with the big saves when needed, especially in overtime and/or the shootout where he’s now 5-1 after another overtime win this past Wednesday.
“I think yes, maybe the stats didn’t show it for a bit but that stuff evens out as you get into the season and we’re seeing that now,” head coach Bruce Cassidy told the media Thursday. “We need timely stops and he’s given us that every game so far.”
Rask is 3-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .929 save percentage in his last three starts.
– Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore will play his first game of the season and his first since August 23 and Game 3 of the Bruins’ five-game series loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Moore went pointless in that game and finished a minus-1 in 15:39 TOI of a 7-l loss for the Bruins. Moore will take Connor Clifton – who filled in for Matt Grzelcyk last game – on the second pairing next to Brandon Carlo.
Cassidy figured the tail end of the Bruins’ first set of games on back-to-back nights was a good time to switch it up even though Clifton did a solid job himself.
“He’s been working hard, so tonight’s a good night to do it,” the reigning Jack Adams Award winner said Saturday. “We’ll go from there.”
– After not playing in the Bruins’ 1-0 win over the New York Rangers on Friday night, Grzelcyk has now missed seven of the Bruins’ last eight games with a variety of lower-body injuries. He is listed as day-to-day.
Jack Studnicka (undisclosed)remains out of the Boston Bruins lineup but has been playing for the Providence Bruins (AHL) while the big club has been on the road.
Forward Ondrej Kase (upper-body), who has been working out and is getting closer to practicing, remains on injured reserve.
– The Bruins went 0-for-4 on the powerplay Friday and are now 12-for-38 on the man advantage. They’re sixth in the NHL with a 31.6 percent success rate.
-The Boston Bruins PK was amazing Friday night, killing off all six Rangers’ powerplays. They’ve now killed 38 of 43 powerplay attempts against and are second on the PK in the NHL with a 88.4 percent success rate.
– Cue the 2015 Draft chirps tonight because islanders superstar forward Mathew Barzal is en fuego heading into this game. Barzal is riding a seven-game point streak with three goals and six assists over that span. As our friends over at NYI Hockey Now pointed out, the goals have been of the highlight reel variety.
– Speaking of our sister site from The Island, Editor-In-Chief Christian Arnold gave a quick scouting report – via text – on the current state of the Islanders:
“The Islanders are a team that’s picked up points in five straight games. The fourth line has rediscovered its game that made them so successful, but the isles are still trying to play consistently for a full 60 minutes.”
-The Islanders are 8-for-41 on the powerplay and 18th in the NHL with a 19.5 percent success rate.
– The Islanders’ penalty kill has killed off 25 of 31 powerplays and is ranked 14th in the NHL with an 80.6 percent success rate.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Nick Ritchie – David Krejci – Craig Smith
Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Trent Frederic – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Jeremy Lauzon – Charlie McAvoy
John Moore – Brandon Carlo
Jakub Zboril – Kevan Miller
New York Islanders Lines
Anders Lee – Mathew Barzal – Josh Bailey
Michael Dal Colle – Brock Nelson – Jordan Eberle
Leo Komarov – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech – Ryan Puloch
Nick Leddy – Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene – Noah Dobson